In an end-to-end match at St Andrew's, Cardiff City and Birmingham City shared the points in a goal-less draw.
With City fans having superbly observed a minute’s silence in memory of the fallen, the Bluebirds set about taking the game to their hosts at a very soggy St. Andrew’s. Russell Slade’s men began to find early joy down the Birmingham left, with two Aron Gunnarsson long throws inside the opening five minutes causing early problems.
A Peter Whittingham corner brought about an unwelcome reception for the midfielder as he made his way towards the corner flag, based on his former Aston Villa allegiances. City’s talisman delivered a wicked corner though, forcing a punch away from Randolph and two efforts on distance from goal – firstly from John Brayford and then, Anthony Pilkington.
Cardiff started much the better side, and had their best chance after 15 minutes. A terrible clearance from the Blues defence allowed Pilkington to play Adam Le Fondre into the penalty area; the striker took a superb first touch on to his left foot, though despite a good connextion, Randolph got down well to force a corner.
The game lulled after this good opportunity, with Blues coming back into the game more without really threatening David Marshall’s goal. City’s best opportunity of these period saw Birmingham fortunate not to concede, good link up play between Pilkington and Federico Macheda saw the latter rifle the ball across goal only for it to bobble into the hands of Randolph after a deflection off Paul Robinson, two yards from the line.
Two minutes from the break and with most in the Stadium stood still, Macheda spurned the half’s best chance. A pinpoint Whittingham ball was brought down superbly by the forward who had deftly broken the Blues offside trap, only for him to draw out a fantastic save from Randolph from a one on one position. It would be the last notable action of the opening 45.
HALF TIME: BIRMINGHAM CITY 0-0 CARDIFF CITY
Cardiff came firing out of the blocks in the second-half and twice had opportunities to go ahead inside the first five minutes, each time through Macheda. Firstly, the Italian made reasonable contact with a Le Fondre cross that drifted wide (and was later flagged for offside), before slotting into the back of the net after a penalty area melee, only to be ruled out by the official’s flag for a second time.
Substitution Birmingham City: Andy Shinnie replaced by Wes Thomas (52 minutes)
Substitution Birmingham City: Toby Arthur replaced by Demarai Gray (52 minutes)
In the 65th minute, St. Andrew’s erupted – but their cheers were premature. Good play down the right hand side by substutitute Gray saw the midfielder play the perfect ball across goal; Thomas was on hand at the far post to rifle home, but amidst the celebrations, was flagged offside by the assistant on the far touchline. It was one apiece for disallowed goals.
Substitution Cardiff City: Federico Macheda replaced by Nicky Maynard (65 minutes)
Gray continued to be Birmingham’s best attacking threat and with ten minutes left to play, had two chances in front of goal. The first of those was blocked superbly on the edge of the area by Ben Turner, before the second effort found the palms of David Marshall, despite the midfielder’s good connection.
Substitution Cardiff City: Craig Noone replaced by Fabio (87 minutes)
With a minute left to play, Birmingham substitute Wes Thomas saw red. In a seemingly innocuous incident, with the referee calling back play from the City 18 yard box for a Blues free kick up field, the striker swiped towards the face of Sean Morrison due to the frustration of not seeing the ball soon enough. It was a silly moment for the striker and made for a tense finish at St. Andrew’s. It would be the last significant moment of the contest.
RED CARD: Wes Thomas (Birmingham City, 89 minutes)
Substitution Cardiff City: Sean Morrison replaced by Danny Gabbidon (90 minutes)
FULL TIME: BIRMINGHAM CITY 0-0 CARDIFF CITY
Birmingham City: Randolph, Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds, Davis, Gleeson, Cotterill, Shinnie, Arthur, Donaldson. Subs: Doyle, Eardley, Edgar, Reilly, Gray, Shea, Thomas.
Cardiff City: Marshall, Brayford, Turner, S. Morrison, Connolly, Pilkington, Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Noone, Le Fondre, Macheda. Subs: Moore, Fabio, Gabbidon, Ralls, Adeyemi, Kim, Maynard.