MATCH REPORTS

Point For United - Blues For Brum

St Andrew's, home of Birmingham City

BIRMINGHAM CITY 0
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0

St. Andrew's
Barclays Premiership
Saturday April 29, 2006
Kick-off 3pm

Gary Oliver reports

NEWCASTLE United couldn't extend their winning run to six games as they were forced to settle for a goalless draw against a Birmingham City side, who were relegated as a result of Portsmouth's win at Wigan.

With both teams needing the points for different reasons it was a very tense afternoon at St. Andrew's and there were few clear-cut chances in the game.

Indeed, all the drama came in the final moments of the game.

Firstly, Shay Given produced a brilliant double save to thwart Mikael Forssell and Emile Heskey, and then with Blues committed to piling forward, the Magpies had a chance to win it three minutes into stoppage time when Titus Bramble powered upfield only for his heavy touch at a crucial moment allow Maik Taylor to clear.

Michael Owen made his return to action shortly after the hour mark and came close with a header, but home fans were left as blue as their shirts as relegation from the Premiership was confirmed.

SECOND-HALF ACTION UPDATES

90min+3 - A wayward Nolberto Solano header gives Birmingham a corner at the death. It is cleared and suddenly Titus Bramble powers forward unchecked only to overhit his touch and allow Maik Taylor to come from his box and make a clearance.

90min - Shay Given makes a brilliant double save to keep the scores level. First he blocks from Mikael Forssell with his legs and then shows amazing reactions to palm away Emile Heskey's follow-up.

89min - Stephen Carr is booked and can have no complaints after a cynical trip on DJ Campbell 30 yards from goal.

88min - Blues replace Kenny Cunningham with Stephen Clemence.

87min - Glenn Roeder makes a final change as Amady Faye comes off and Jean Alain Boumsong is introduced.

86min - The home fans are getting increasingly agitated as their team try to force some pressure.

81min - Birmingham have a free-kick midway inside the Newcastle half after Nolberto Solano fouls Mat Sadler. Kenny Cunningham delivers it into a crowded box and Shay Given gets enough on his punch to put the ball behind for a corner, which is then cleared.

80min - Stephen Carr gets the break of a ball on the right and crosses low from the right, but the ball flashes across goal with no one able to get the required touch to score.

79min - Jermaine Penannt delivers a long ball forward from the right and for a moment it looks as though Emile Heskey will go clear. But he cannot control the ball and Shay Given comes to collect.

77min - Charles N'Zogbia delivers a cross from the left, but no black and white shirt can reach it.

76min - Damien Johnson is penalised for a foul on Michael Owen and is then booked for a show of dissent.

74min - Mario Melchiot goes into the book for a deliberate handball on halfway.

72min - Steve Bruce sends on another striker for Birmingham. On comes DJ Campbell and Julian Gray is the man to make way.

70min - Michael Owen is only inches away from a great comeback goal. Nolberto Solano releases Stephen Carr down the right and his cross is headed narrowly over by the England striker.

68min - Glenn Roeder makes a second change as Lee Clark takes over from Matty Pattison. United have a free-kick on the right but Charles N'Zogbia's delivery is weak and easily dealt with by the hosts.

63min - Blues have a right-wing corner that Jiri Jarosik heads over. A minute later they have a free-kick on the same side that Jermaine Pennant delivers to the far post where Martin Taylor's header is booted clear by Amady Faye.

62min - The moment has come for the return of Michael Owen to action for the first time since New Year's Eve. Michael Chopra makes way.

60min - Matty Pattison gives the ball away cheaply to Jiri Jarosik on halfway, but the Blues midfielder cannot find the pass to release Mikael Forssell. At the other end, Martin Taylor hooks the ball away from Shola Ameobi.

56min - There is almost a sniff of goal for Michael Chopra but he fails to control a Nolberto Solano ball 35 yards from goal. At the other end, Mikael Forssell turns Stephen Carr on the edge of the Magpies' box, but his shot lacks power.

53min - Newcastle appeal for a penalty when Nolberto Solano plays a delicate ball to Charles N'Zogbia and the Frenchman goes down under a Mario Melchiot challenge just as he is about to shoot. Referee Martin Atkinson rules the tackle a fair one and awards United a corner, but N'Zogbia needs treatment from Derek Wright before it can be taken. When it comes in from Solano on the left, Melchiot clears at the near post.

50min - Amady Faye catches Jiri Jarosik and Birmingham get a free-kick on the corner of the Newcastle box. Jermaine Pennant delivers from the left but Nolberto Solano charges it down with his hand and is booked by Martin Atkinson. From the retake, Pennant overhits his cross.

48min - Blues have a free-kick on halfway that Kenny Cunningham launches into the Newcastle box. Emile Heskey nods it back to Jermaine Pennant, but he sees his angled drive flash high into the stand.

47min - Michael Chopra plays a low ball to Nolberto Solano but his low cross from the right is behind Shola Ameobi. Birmingham only half-clear the threat but when the ball drops to Charles N'Zogbia on the edge of the box he makes a mess of his attempted shot.

46min - Newcastle are first to threaten after the break when Nolberto Solano plays a ball up to Michael Chopra, but he is blocked on the edge of the box by Martin Taylor and Damien Johnson.

FIRST-HALF ACTION UPDATES

Half-time comes with the score still goalless on a very tense afternoon at St. Andrew's.

45min - As the half draws to a close Emile Heskey needs treatment after a clash of heads with Titus Bramble.

44min - Craig Moore blocks a shot from Mikael Forssell before Nolberto Solano then hacks clear a cross from Jermaine Pennant as the hosts try and exert late first-half pressure.

43min - Emile Heskey fires high and wide from 25 yards.

39min - Birmingham get a left-wing corner as Nolberto Solano puts the ball behind under pressure from Mat Sadler. From Jermaine Pennant's delivery, Titus Bramble heads clear.

37min - Jermaine Pennant crosses low from the right and the ball is collected by Emile Heskey, who turns and fires in a low drive that Shay Given saves down to his left. In Blues' next attack, Craig Moore is alert to stop Mikael Forssell getting on the end of another Pennant through ball.

33min - Jiri Jarosik appeals optimistically for a penalty after being challenged by Stephen Carr. Referee Martin Atkinson is distinctly unimpressed and when the ball rolls to Mikael Forssell he fires tamely wide from 18 yards.

32min - Good defending in the air by Craig Moore sees him head behind a Julian Gray right-wing cross ahead of Emile Heskey. From the corner Martin Taylor sees a close range effort blocked by Titus Bramble.

31min - Jiri Jarosik has a weaving run into the Newcastle box before his progress is halted at the expense of a corner.

28min - Shola Ameobi controls a long forward punt and lays it into the path of Nolberto Solano, who shoots wide from 20 yards.

26min - A long clearance by Shay Given is headed clear by Kenny Cunningham only as far as Nolberto Solano, but his low angled drive is well off target.

25min - Birmingham's best chance of the game so far sees a Jermaine Pennant cross flicked on by Emile Heskey into the path of Mikael Forssell, but he shoots over.

22min - Newcastle win a right-wing corner that sees Mario Melchiot head away Nolberto Solano's inswinging delivery at the near post.

21min - Jermaine Penannt sees his cross headed clear only as far as Jiri Jarosik who then fires narrowly wide from 20 yards.

17min - Jermaine Pennant and Mario Melchiot combine down the right before the latter crosses from the byline. There is a moment of panic before the ball finally drops for Shay Given to collect. At the other end, Celestine Babayaro has a cross headed clear by Kenny Cunningham before Charles N'Zogbia is flagged for offside in United's next raid.

15min - Nolberto Solano looks to play in Michael Chopra, but again the Peruvian's touch is too heavy and the ball runs safely through to Maik Taylor.

12min - Michael Chopra plays a ball into the Birmingham penalty area and Mario Melchiot and Maik Taylor get in a real tangle, almost letting in Shola Ameobi before the full-back recovers to block out the danger

11min - Birmingham break from deep through Damien Johnson, but when he crosses from the right it is just behind Jermaine Pennant and the chance goes begging.

9min - Mario Melchiot swings over a deep cross from the right that Emile Heskey heads over from 12 yards.

6min - Shola Ameobi robs Mario Melchiot on United's left flank and advances into the Blues half before he is brought down by the backtracking defender. It's a free-kick to the Magpies, but Nolberto Solano overhits his delivery, much to the delight of the home fans who have jeered him as a former Aston Villa player.

4min - Jermaine Pennant delivers a left-wing free-kick to the far post and when it drops for Jiri Jarosik he turns and fires over from eight yards.

Birmingham City get the game underway with Newcastle United - wearing their traditional black and white stripes - defending the end where the travelling Geordie support is housed.

TEAM NEWS

MICHAEL Owen was back on the bench for Saturday's crucial Premiership game with Birmingham City at St. Andrew's.

Owen has missed the last 21 matches since limping out of the New Year's Eve defeat at Tottenham with a broken metatarsal, though caretaker boss Glenn Roeder resisted the temptation to throw him in from the start as he opted to stick with the same starting XI that beat West Bromwich Albion at St. James' Park last Saturday.

Roeder knew that a win for his side would lift them into sixth spot, with Blackburn not playing until later in the day and Bolton having to wait until Sunday for their game at Spurs.

His opposite number Steve Bruce needed the points for different reasons, with his side facing the possibility of dropping out of the top flight if they lost today.

TEAMS

NEWCASTLE UTD: Shay Given, Stephen Carr, Craig Moore, Titus Bramble, Celestine Babayaro, Nobby Solano, Charles N'Zogbia, Amady Faye (Jean Alain Boumsong 86m), Matty Pattison (Lee Clark 68m), Shola Ameobi, Michael Chopra (Michael Owen 62m).
Subs not used: Robbie Elliott, Steve Harper.

BIRMINGHAM CITY: Maik Taylor, Mario Melchiot, Kenny Cunningham (Stephen Clemence 87m), Martin Taylor, Matthew Sadler, Jermaine Pennant, Damien Johnson, Jari Jarosik, Julian Gray (DJ Campbell 72m), Emile Heskey, Mikael Forsell
Subs not used: Nico Vaesen, Alex Bruce, Oliver Tebily.l

Referee: Martin Atkinson
Attendance: 28,331

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