Blues battle back to hold Hammers

The bottom-placed Hammers looked set for a first away success of

the campaign after Frederic Piquionne and Valon Behrami had put

them in command. But City substitute Jerome and Ridgewell rescued a

point for Alex McLeish’s side. Hammers co-owner Sullivan looked on

impassively against his former club but at least he was able to

witness proceedings at first hand after former Blues chairman David

Gold had been banned after comments about the Midlands club. West

Ham looked to have the points in the bag after playing with a

confidence that belied their lowly position. Carlton Cole impressed

as the lone striker and his occupying of the City defenders allowed

Victor Obinna to find space to exploit. In contrast Blues

struggling for long periods to pose any sort of threat – until they

went 2-0 down. Birmingham, operating with the 4-3-1-2 formation

which had been successful against Blackpool in their previous home

game, found plenty of room down the flanks in the early stages

There was a brief delay when the pitch sprinklers suddenly burst

into life. But West Ham started to look threatening and it needed a

brilliant save from Foster to deny Cole the opening goal after 17

minutes. Cole’s close-range shot from Obinna’s low centre looked

destined for the corner of the net, but Foster somehow

finger-tipped the ball onto the post at full stretch and it

rebounded out. Scott Dann blocked a shot on the turn from Piquionne

and Roger Johnson did a similar job to deny Luis Boa Morte. In a

rare Birmingham attack Alexander Hleb picked out the run of Keith

Fahey but he was crowded out as he prepared to shoot. Scott Parker

was forced to cut out one dangerous cross after good play by Hleb.

Cole should have done better after turning Dann inside the

Birmingham box. But he failed to make proper contact on his shot

and Foster was able to gather at the foot of a post. West Ham

needed only three minutes of the second half to break the deadlock

through Piquionne’s fourth goal of the campaign. Boa Morte picked

out the run of Piquionne in between Ridgewell and Johnson and he

drilled his shot across Foster into the far corner of the net.

Blues tried to retaliate and Ferguson’s angled ball almost picked

out Larsson’s well-timed surge into box. But the Sweden

international failed to make contact and Robert Green was able to

collect. Cole came close to making it 2-0 when his glancing header

was only just too high from Obinna’s corner. It came as no surprise

when Behrami doubled the Hammers lead after 57 minutes. Cole had

time to tee up the run into the box of Behrami and his first-time

shot flew past Foster from 12 yards. City manager McLeish responded

by bringing on Jean Beausejour and Craig Garner in place of Hleb

and Fahey. The woodwork denied Boa Morte when his shot crashed

against the woodwork. Jerome gave Birmingham a life-line by

reducing the arrears after 63 minutes. Zigic headed a cross from

Larsson into his path and the former England Under-21 striker made

no mistake from close range. After 73 minutes Ridgewell equalised

and a question mark has to be placed against Green. He only

succeeded in pushing a free-kick from Larsson straight into the

path of Ridgewell who made no mistake from eight yards out.

Birmingham came close to taking the lead when Jerome burst into the

area and saw his shot deflect off West Ham defender Daniel Gabbidon

onto his own crossbar. Obinna was yellow carded after a late

challenge on Larsson as West Ham held on for a point.