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Page last updated at 21:58 GMT, Monday, 17 March 2008

Birmingham 1-1 Newcastle

By Chris Bevan

Michael Owen and Mark Viduka celebrate Newcastle's equaliser
Owen and Viduka celebrate Newcastle's equaliser

Michael Owen's opportunistic strike earned Newcastle a vital point against fellow strugglers Birmingham and ended his side's four-game losing streak.

James McFadden put the Blues ahead when he latched on to David Murphy's cross and slotted past Steve Harper.

The Magpies were poor early on but they came back to dominate the second half.

Owen was denied by a brilliant Maik Taylor save but found the net soon after, converting the rebound after Taylor parried an Obafemi Martins shot.

Both sides remain in trouble at the bottom of the Premier League table, with Birmingham two points above the drop zone and Newcastle just two points better off.

Magpies boss Kevin Keegan also remains winless, nine games into his second stint in charge at St James' Park.

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And his team are still without a league victory since their success at Fulham on 15 December.

But Keegan will at least be encouraged by the way his players responded in the second half after they made an unimpressive start.

His attacking trio of Owen, Martins and Mark Viduka initially failed to spark and it was Birmingham who did all the early pressing.

Fabrice Muamba and McFadden fired over before Mikael Forssell went close with a shot on the turn from just outside the area.

The Blues continued to threaten and Radhi Jaidi headed wastefully wide before McFadden found the net after 33 minutes.

There seemed little danger when Murphy lifted a deep cross into the penalty area but, with Abdoulaye Faye dozing, McFadden was able to muscle him off the ball and calmly fire home.

Harper was livid at his back-line's lethargy, yet they were almost punished again early in the second half.

Some hesitant defending from Faye and Steven Taylor allowed Forssell in and his effort required a brave block from Harper.

Things looked grim for the visitors, who had only forced Taylor into one save at this stage - and that a sliced clearance from his own defender Stephen Kelly.

But, belatedly, Newcastle's midfield of Joey Barton and Nicky Butt began to stamp their authority on the game and a series of chances followed.

The Magpies should have levelled when the ball broke for Owen inside the box but Taylor saved brilliantly from close range as the England striker looked to clip his shot over the keeper.

Owen did not have to wait long to find the net, however, gobbling up the rebound after Martins' first shot was parried by Taylor and burying the ball into the back of the net.

His goal was a deserved reward for his industry, which will have impressed watching England coach Fabio Capello.

By now Newcastle had taken charge and Birmingham were struggling to get out of their own half.

Taylor was tested by Jose Enqrique from 30 yards and then made an even better save to keep out Martins's low shot and ensure his side picked up a point.

A draw was an unsatisfactory result for both sides but it maintains Birmingham's record of just one defeat at St Andrews since the end of November.

And the way they finished the game means Newcastle will go into Saturday's home clash with second-bottom Fulham full of confidence that they can end Keegan's long wait for a win.


Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell, Murphy, Larsson (Parnaby 46), Muamba, Johnson, McSheffrey, Forssell (Jerome 71), McFadden (Zarate 86).
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Nafti.

Booked: Kelly, Parnaby.

Goals: McFadden 33.

Newcastle: Harper, Beye, Faye, Taylor, Jose Enrique, Barton, Geremi, Butt, Martins (N'Zogbia 80), Owen, Viduka.
Subs Not Used: Forster, Cacapa, Smith, Carroll.

Booked: Geremi, Taylor.

Goals: Owen 56.

Att: 25,777

Ref: Howard Webb (S Yorkshire).


BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Birmingham's James McFadden 8.53 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.



see also
Owen can keep us up, says Keegan
17 Mar 08 |  Newcastle United
Monday's football photos
17 Mar 08 |  Football
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day


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