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Saturday, 18 January, 2003, 16:58 GMT
Birmingham hold Blackburn
The Birmingham players mob goalscorer Stern John
Birmingham deserved their late equaliser
Blackburn 1-1 Birmingham

Stern John's late equaliser earned Birmingham City a draw in a stormy encounter at Blackburn Rovers.

Blackburn looked on course for victory after Damien Duff gave Graeme Souness' side the lead.

But the Blues received fresh impetus after Andy Todd was sent off following a clash with Christophe Dugarry in the 28th minute.

It's an outrage for someone to kick out like that and I have never seen anything like that

Birmingham boss Steve Bruce

The dismissal gave Steve Bruce's men renewed hope - and substitute Stern John disappointed brave Blackburn and cheered Birmingham with an 83rd minute leveller.

Birmingham had all four of their recent signings on display, with France World Cup star Christophe Dugarry in the thick of the action.

But it was Blackburn who took the lead after 19 minutes after a fluent passing move.

David Thompson was the creator with a delightful reverse pass to Dwight Yorke, whose cross found Duff to leave Ian Bennett no chance.

19 mins: Duff puts Blackburn ahead
28 mins: Todd is shown red card
64 mins: John grabs Birmingham's equaliser

But Blackburn suffered a setback nine minutes later when Todd was senselessly sent off.

He clashed with Dugarry, then lashed out needlessly and left referee Clive Wilkes with no option other than to show the red card.

The dismissal forced Blackburn boss Souness into a tactical reshuffle, removing a clearly disgruntled Yorke for Nils Eric Johansson.

Birmimgham were hoping to take their chance against weakened Blackburn - and they pushed forward with renewed ambition after the break.

Dugarry sent a header whistling inches wide after Jamie Clapham's cross before Aliou Cisse was wayward from the edge of the box.

What could have been an easy afternoon became very difficult but our players did very well

Blackburn boss Graeme Souness

With 25 minutes left Bruce brought on Jovan Kirovski for Johnson, and soon afterwards Dugarry was denied again when Friedel flung himself to tip the Frenchman's header around the post.

Birmingham pressed forward, only to find Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel in defiant mood.

But John grabbed the equaliser seven minutes from time after good work by Stan Lazaridis.

Blackburn: Friedel, Neill, Todd, Taylor, McEveley, Thompson, Flitcroft, Tugay, Duff, Cole (Jansen 73), Yorke (Johansson 35).
Subs Not Used: Gillespie, Ostenstad, Kelly.

Sent Off: Todd (28).
Booked: Neill, Tugay.

Birmingham: Bennett, Kenna (John 75), Vickers (Devlin 35), Michael Johnson (Kirovski 65), Clapham, Damien Johnson, Cisse, Savage, Lazaridis, Dugarry, Morrison.
Subs Not Used: Coly, Vaesen.

Booked: Dugarry, Clapham, Lazaridis.

Attendance: 23,331

Referee: C Wilkes (Gloucestershire).

BBC Five Live's Stuart Hall
"Blackburn's poise evaporated"
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