Match Report: Birmingham City 1 Doncaster Rovers 1

David Cotterill celebrates after his great equaliser
David Cotterill celebrates after his great equaliser
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Substitute David Cotterill rescued a point with a thunderbolt to cancel out Lee Novak’s first half strike in a 1-1 draw at St Andrews.

Rovers were looking to end a miserable jinx hanging over them in their meetings with Birmingham City which has seen them without a win in their last eight games.

City looked the more dangerous in the opening stages of the game with Novak and Jesse Lingard, on loan from Manchester United, seeing plenty of the ball in the first half exchanges.

Birmingham created a half chance when Nikola Zigic connected with a searching Lingard cross in the 13th minute but the Serbian striker saw his header deflected for a corner.

Rovers hit back seven minutes later when Mark Duffy capitalised on some sleepy City defending to fire in a short corner and eventually find Richie Wellens.

However, the Doncaster skipper’s first time effort was blocked at the near post.

The dangerous Novak then found a bit of space to send a dipping volley goalbound as the former Huddersfield Town forward spotted Ross Turnbull off his line, forcing the Doncaster shot-stopper into a parry over the bar.

A minute after Enda Stevens’ half chance, in which the full-back drilled in an effort with his right foot, City pounced at the other end to fire themselves into the lead.

The goal came when Novak worked the space on the right and steadied himself to collect a sublime Mitch Hancox delivery before rifling the ball into the roof of the net past the despairing Turnbull in the 29th minute.

That opener was no more than the hosts deserved on the balance of play, but Lee Clark’s men could have been pegged back to 1-1 moments later as Duffy tested Darren Randolph from distance with a rasping strike which the City number one was equal to.

Zigic may have been grateful to be called offside after he latched onto a Novak scissor-kick pass,with the unmarked striker sending his effort wide of Turnbull’s left-hand post and the flag was raised.

Paul Dickov made his first change of the game, bringing on the returning Martin Woods for Wellens as Rovers attempted to get back into this Championship encounter.

However, very little action ensued in the early stages of the second half as both sides failed to create the clinical chances in the final third.

Coppinger later made way for Cotterill in a like-for-like substitution - and ultimately a game-changing switch - as Clark brought on Chris Burke for Mclean minutes later.

Federico Macheda was a frustrated figure up front with strike partner Theo Robinson as he first drilled a low shot into the feet of Randolph before sending a far post header wide.

Dickov made his final substitution as he switched to a 4-3-3 and introduced Billy Paynter for Duffy.

With little happening, substitute Cotterill announced his arrival in style with a stunning strike from some distance to level proceedings.

The Welshman’s 78th minute goal was certainly something out of nothing as Randolph was helpless to stop the clinical strike.

Cotterill, out on the left, cracked in a terrific right foot shot into the corner.

Tom Adeyemi tried to restore City’s advantage when he worked his way into the box. However, his shot was well saved by Turnbull and the follow-up header sailed tamely into his hands.

Birmingham set up a frantic finish as they piled on the pressure in the Rovers half, but the away side defended stoically as City appeared frustrated and lacking a clinical edge when it mattered - much like Doncaster.

The home side’s fans certainly made their feelings heard from the stands as Birmingham ran out of ideas and Rovers struggled to string together the required passes in a tale of two sides suffering similar fates in the Championship as the Midlands match ended all-square.

Birmingham: Randolph 6, Robinson 6, Burn 6, Lingard 7 (Shinnie 85 - rating 6), Novak 7, Reilly 6 (Elliott 79 - rating 6), Hancox 7, Zigic 6, Adeyemi 6, Caddis 6, Mclean 6 (Burke 69 - rating 6)

Rovers: Turnbull 6, Quinn 6, Furman 6, Duffy 6 (Paynter 71 - rating 6), Macheda 6, McCullough 6, Khumalo 6, Wellens 6 (Woods 45 - rating 6), Robinson 6, Coppinger 6 (Cotterill 58 - rating 7), Stevens 6.

Subs not used: Maxted, Wakefield, De Val, Peterson.

Referee: Brendan Malone ( Wiltshire)

Attendance: 12,663