REPORT: TOWN 1-1 BIRMINGHAM CITYA frantic five-minute second half period ensured that both Huddersfield Town and Birmingham City would take home a share of the spoils on a chilly afternoon at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Elias Kachunga’s sixth goal of the season nudged Town ahead, but the lead was to be short lived as ex-Town loan man Lukas Jutkiewicz headed home from close range to level up the scores.
Head Coach David Wagner made three changes from last week’s defeat to Fulham as Michael Hefele, Sean Scannell and Jonathan Hogg replaced Mark Hudson, Dean Whitehead and Harry Bunn respectively. Tommy Smith captained the side, which once again reverted to its usual 4-2-3-1 set up.
With Blues setting up to see less of the ball, Town knew that the match was going to be a test of manoeuvring the ball about with purpose to be able to penetrate Gary Rowett’s well drilled outfit.
An early chance fell the way of Elias Kachunga; neat build up led to a Kasey Palmer corner, who’s delivery found the German at the far post, only to find his goal-bound effort deflected over by Ryan Shotton. Nahki Wells could’ve provided the opener moments later, only for Thomas Kuszczak to palm away his long range effort.
Tommy Smith nearly reached Chris Löwe’s delivery, but the full-back was inches away from prodding Town into what would’ve been a deserved lead.
The battle in midfield was key with Aaron Mooy dictating the play as usual with nice touches and a wide range of passing; however, the key battle was to be at the back for Town, with fan favourite Michael Hefele not letting Blues talisman Clayton Donaldson get the better of him throughout the opening stages.
Kasey Palmer used his skill and flair to send Smith behind the visiting backline, only for the ball to trickle out of play beyond reach.
Birmingham showed their offensive capabilities nonetheless; David Cotterill crossed for the looming Lukas Jutkiewicz who could only send his header wide.
However, Town finished the half strongly. Palmer again causing panic amongst the Blues backline, bringing the ball positively over the halfway line before finding Wells, who yet again found the target but didn’t overly trouble the experienced Kuszczak.
The fireworks started early as the second half got underway; David Davis opening the proceedings, before the energetic Jonathan Hogg fizzled an effort straight to the visiting keeper from distance.
The game started to open up as both sides looked to grab the elusive opener; Town signalling their intent by introducing Jack Payne and Rajiv Van La Parra. The positive introductions paid dividends shortly after as Town intensity heightened.
Aaron Mooy picked out a superb cross field ball to find Elias Kachunga who in turn poked home his sixth goal of the season after taking advantage of a Jonathan Grounds slip.
Jack Payne spectacularly aimed to double the advantage, but his attempted bicycle kick almost returned to where it came from.
As ‘The Yorkshire Club’ looked to capitalised on their slender lead, the side from St Andrew’s levelled in the blink of an eye as a left footed free kick somehow found its way to an arriving Lukas Jutkiewicz who duly nodded past a helpless Danny Ward.
Both sets of supporters anticipated a nervous finish as the pendulum could’ve swung either way, but the tensions of the visiting supporters would’ve have been shredded late on as Nahki Wells took a tumble in the penalty area; the referee waved away the Bermudian’s protests after a neat touch and control to wriggle away from Maikel Kieftenbeld.
It was to be one last chance in favour of the away side as Lukas Jutkiewicz raced clear of Christopher Schindler, only to be denied by a superb covering slide tackle by the impressive Jonathan Hogg.
Town’s team vs Birmingham City (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith (c); Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg; Elias Kachunga, Kasey Palmer (Jack Payne, 59’), Sean Scannell (Rajiv van La Parra, 59’); Nahki Wells
Joel Coleman, Dean Whitehead, Mark Hudson, Philip Billing, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis
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