Town and Birmingham City will have to do it all over again a week on Tuesday at St Andrews for a place in the Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round after being unable to be separated over 90 minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Lukas Jutkiewicz pounced on a defensive mishap to earn the Blues the replay after cancelling out Steve Mounié’s first-half opener in a game of a high-tempo, but few clear cut chances.
The result saw the visitors replicate the score of their last visit to HD1, which concluded in a 1-1 Sky Bet Championship stalemate back in November of 2016.
Jonathan Hogg retained his place in the starting side from last week’s defeat at Stoke to make his 150th Huddersfield Town appearance, along with Steve Mounié, Florent Hadergjonaj and Rajiv van La Parra, who also kept their spots. There was a welcome return for Philip Billing on his return from injury, and was named amongst the substitutes. Joe Lolley, a former Birmingham City academy graduate, was another player to earn a re-call to the bench having missed the previous outing with a hamstring problem.
And it was Town who initiated an early offensive intent. Danny Williams set Hadergjonaj down the right flank and the Swiss full-back delivered a teasing ball across the face towards Steve Mounié. Visiting ‘skipper Michael Morrison was equal to the danger, and timely slid in to produce a clearance to eradicate the threat.
Backed by a healthy following from the West Midlands, Steve Cotterill’s men weren’t planning on sitting back and soaking up pressure. Terence Kongolo and Michael Hefele, the central defensive partnership on the afternoon for the Terriers, had to be alert to cover round as the presence of Che Adams and playmaker Jota probed an opening deep inside the Blue and Whites’ territory.
In a game of few chances, the visitors fashioned a good opening 15 minutes in. A positive drive from wing-back Carl Jenkinson resulted in the former Arsenal man delivering to the near post aiming for Lukas Jutkiewicz, who had made a quick dart beyond his marker. The finish was to be desired from the physical striker, who prodded narrowly wide under pressure from Michael Hefele.
Terence Kongolo showed excellent recovery skills to mop up and deny Jutkiewicz from having a clear shot on goal from range after Rajiv van La Parra had lost possession just inside his own half.
Despite rarely venturing into Birmingham’s penalty area, Steve Mounié capped a patient move to give Town the lead.
Clever work from Collin Quaner saw the big man lay a perfectly weighted pass to Florent Hadergjonaj, who had taken up a position in a generous amount of space on his native right side. Flo continued to deliver a pinpoint cross towards the penalty spot, to which Steve Mounié leapt highest to bury a powerful header, handing Town an advantage in the tie.
David Wagner would have pleased with the urgency his team had now began to display.
Chris Löwe surged down the left beyond Jenkinson and seeked goalscorer Mounié in the box once more, before Collin Quaner’s left-footed curler was valiantly blocked by Marc Roberts’ flailing header and Abdelhamid Sabiri’s follow-up attempt drifting wide of the post without posing an issue to visiting ‘keeper David Stockdale.
At the other end, Joel Coleman commanded his six-yard box well to palm away Cohen Bramall’s pacey, low cross after he’d managed to out-pace Hadergjonaj en route to the by-line.
Billing made an earlier than expected introduction as a result of Danny Williams’ suffering an issue from a Cheikh N’Doye challenge, and it wouldn’t be long after Phil’s entrance that Town would work Stockdale on another occasion.
Chris Löwe’s floated free-kick found Steve Mounié, and continuing a theme of aerial domination, the Benin front-man cushioned a header downwards towards the far corner which had Stockdale scrambling to smother.
The second period carried on where the first left off, as Collin Quaner latched onto Abdelhamid Sabiri’s through ball to centre for Mounié. Stockdale clawed away the cross, only at the second time of asking nonetheless as Sabiri lurked to tap home a potential rebound.
Kongolo had so far produced a magnificently solid defensive display, and the on-loan Monaco man timed a sliding tackle to perfection as the visitors broke through Jota’s direct run down the middle. If the tackle hadn’t have been made, Che Adams was just a yard away from bearing down on goal un-challenged.
Largely against the run of play, a mistake from Michael Hefele allowed Lukas Jutkiewicz to gain possession and ultimately equalise for the away side with a shot into the far corner from the edge of the area.
Back came Town in the search to go back ahead, firstly with Terence Kongolo seeing an effort blocked heroically by a red shirt as a result of a rebound, coming before Philip Billing unleashed a rasping drive which forced a smart diving save from Stockdale.
Birmingham were also looking to play on the front foot, and they were very nearly rewarded after attacking midfielder Jota bent an effort agonisingly wide of Joel Coleman’s back-post.
The visitors would then have a goal disallowed as the linesman’s flag on the Revell Ward stand side came to Town’s rescue. Jutkiewicz was denied his second of the afternoon despite heading in Jenkinson’s deep cross.
The tie had really opened up by now, and Phil Billing drove forward with hunger before finding an advancing Joe Lolley down the left. Joe set himself to release a shot, but Stockdale made himself big to thwart. A goalmouth scramble was to follow, but neither Collin Quaner or Michael Hefele could scramble home after Birmingham hesitantly rushed to clear their lines.
Abdelhamid Sabiri was the next man to try his luck, but the Moroccan flashed wide after a neat touch from Joe Lolley’s inventive centre.
The pattern of openness ploughed on. Jutkiewicz was proving to be the focal point of the away side’s attacks. The well-travelled visiting number 10 turned creatively on the edge of the box, but found a resilient Joel Coleman in the way to divert away for a corner.
Town were playing some good football, but the final ball in the second half had eluded them to a substantial extent. The Championship side were giving a decent account of themselves, and looked sharp on the counter.
As added on time ticked away, Joe Lolley had a golden chance to send the Terriers through to the fifth round at the first opportunity. Collin Quaner beat his marker Jenkinson and softly played in Joe Lolley who was free on the penalty spot, but the latter crucially fired way into the Fantastic Media stand which would inevitably mean a replay in the second city in 10 days time (February 6).
TOWN (4-2-3-1): Joel Coleman; Chris Löwe (Scott Malone, 82’), Terence Kongolo, Michael Hefele, Florent Hadergjonaj; Jonathan Hogg, Danny Williams (Philip Billing, 36’); Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley, 57’), Abdelhamid Sabiri, Collin Quaner; Steve Mounié
UNUSED SUBS: Jonas Lössl, Christopher Schindler, Tommy Smith, Laurent Depoitre
BIRMINGHAM CITY: David Stockdale; Cohen Bramall, Marc Roberts, Harlee Dean (Jonathan Grounds, 46’), Michael Morrison (c), Carl Jenkinson; Jason Lowe (Craig Gardner, 88’), Jota, Cheikh N’Doye; Lukas Jutkiewicz, Che Adams (Jérémie Boga, 76’)
UNUSED SUBS: Connal Trueman, Josh Dacres-Cogley, Steve Seddon, Charlie Lakin
REFEREE: Neil Swarbrick
ATTENDANCE: 13,047 (2,473 Birmingham City fans)