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Wolves force replay at Birmingham

Wolves force replay at Birmingham
By Eurosport

08/01/2012 at 01:36Updated 08/01/2012 at 14:48

It will take a replay to see who out of Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers goes into the FA Cup fourth-round draw after the two sides drew 0-0 at St Andrew's.

The most exciting moment came right at the end of second-half stoppage time when substitutes Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher both went close, but they could not avoid taking this tie to a replay at Molineux that both sides could have done without.

    Both clubs have decent pedigree in the FA Cup in recent years. Birmingham have made it to the quarter-finals in each of the last two seasons while Wolves have made it past the third round in each of the last nine seasons, but one of those runs will end.

    Before the match there was a touching tribute to Gary Ablett, who died earlier in the week, but the reception for another former Birmingham defender was decidedly mixed.

    Wolves captain Roger Johnson received the odd boo from the home crowd upon his return to the club he left in the summer following Birmingham's relegation from the Premier League last season.

    The centre-back was jeered when he sent a header from a corner over the bar midway through the half, although he was treated more sympathetically when he turned his ankle after landing awkwardly with 10 minutes to go until half-time and had to be replaced by Kevin Foley.

    In a game of few chances, Johnson's header was one of the better opportunities. Sylvan Ebanks-Blake toe-poked an effort on target after turning past his marker in the box, but the prodded shot was aimed right at goalkeeper Colin Doyle who made the save.

    Moments later, Ebanks-Blake fed striker Kevin Doyle in the box with a canny reverse pass. Doyle tried to pick out Michael Kightly, making a rare start for Wolves, but the pass was intercepted by Liam Ridgewell. The Birmingham defender dithered in making his clearance and Kightly almost pounced to rob him of the ball, but in the end only knocked it out for a goal kick.

    Birmingham saw marginally more of the ball in the first half, but they struggled to test Wolves reserve keeper Dorus de Vries. Jordan Mutch sent one half-volley over the bar and fired a long-range effort along the turf and right at De Vries, while highly-rated young winger Nathan Redmond also hit a low effort too close to the keeper. That was as endangered as the Wolves goal got before half-time.

    Wolves emerged from the break seemingly with renewed determination to reach the next round, or at least avoid the inconvenience of a replay.

    Ebanks-Blake should have earned Wolves reward for their increased possession in the second half just before the hour mark. Kightly was played into plenty of space down the right and his square pass found the striker unmarked in the box. Ebanks-Blake had time to take a touch, but instead fired his first-time strike over the bar.

    Ten minutes later Stephen Hunt made a bid for a classic FA Cup goal from a free-kick when Karl Henry tapped the dead ball back to him and he flicked it up and volleyed a strike for goal. The effort was dipping but not enough to hit the target.

    Both managers made offensive changes with 20 minutes remaining. Chris Hughton introduced Jean Beausejour while Mick McCarthy brought on Jarvis and then top scorer Fletcher.

    Redmond and Stephen Ward both hit chances in injury time too close to the keeper, but there was still time for some late drama when Jarvis cut in from the right and bent a curling strike past Doyle only for it to rebound off the post. Fletcher was quickest to react with a close-range header, but Doyle made an excellent instinctive save and these two Midlands rivals will have to do it all again at Molineux.