Birmingham's Barry Ferguson tries a spectacular effort against Hull
By Phil Dawkes
Relegation-threatened Hull were unable to gain the victory they desperately needed as they were held to a goalless draw at Birmingham.
The Tigers' display was full of effort but, tellingly, they offered little in attack to claim the vital three points.
Birmingham fashioned the better chances with Lee Bowyer putting a header just over and seeing a 25-yard shot saved.
Hull's best chance came from a Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink header but Blues keeper Joe Hart was equal to it.
Hull boss Iain Dowie had called for a "response" from his side after last weekend's abject 4-1 defeat to fellow-strugglers Burnley, which left the Tigers four points from safety.
And he got a reaction as Hull produced a committed and hard-working performance that for long periods frustrated their hosts.
McLeish eyes 50-point target
Vennegoor of Hesselink's near-post glancing header was the closest Hull came to scoring, but England keeper Hart made a one-handed save that demonstrated his international class.
Even as things became more desperate for Hull late on, they were only able to fashion half-chances with Jimmy Bullard shooting straight at Hart from 25 yards and Craig Fagan firing a volley wide from a similar distance.
The points mattered less to the home side - whose successful first season back in the Premier League has already defied expectation - and their performance lacked the ruthlessness of some of their early-season displays.
However, Birmingham have now gone seven matches without a victory and will be looking for greater return from their remaining three games if they are to secure their highest top-flight finish since 1959, when they claimed ninth place.
They fashioned the better opportunities but were too often wasteful, or denied by Hull's recalled keeper Matt Duke.
Early on, James McFadden found space on the right before cutting inside and unleashing a left-foot shot from 25-yards which flew past the far corner of the goal, and then later Bowyer had two good opportunities, the first a header just over from six yards and the second a long-range drive which was saved by Duke.
Draw provides valuable point - Dowie
These all came in the first half, which was not flush with action, but was infinitely more entertaining than the second.
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish will be happy with his side's commitment to secure their first clean sheet in eight matches at the end of what has been a difficult week.
Investment bank Seymour Pierce have warned it could sell the St Andrews club to recover a £2.2m fee owed to them by owner Carson Yeung for the role they played in his takeover last November.
The Blues may have some off-the-field concerns but all the on-pitch problems belong to Hull, who are now three points from safety and have seen an opportunity to gain significant ground on 17th-placed West Ham slip through their fingers.
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
"After the five breakaway goals from City last week, I wanted a clean sheet and I'm proud of the lads and the way we bounced back.
"Maybe we didn't have the imagination or creativity in the final third but we still showed a lot of professionalism.
"We have proved time and time again that we can bounce back. You have bad performances from time to time but the players have got it in their character to respond."
Hull manager Iain Dowie:
"I had a conversation this week with the players, ramming home what Premier League survival means to the area, the people who work at the club, and the fans.
"I asked for a response in training, then I wanted a positive performance today - and I got it.
"Given Birmingham's home record, it was a display to be proud of."
90:00+3:23 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+1:51 Jimmy Bullard produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.
90:00+0:41 Effort from the edge of the box by Craig Fagan goes wide of the right-hand upright.
90:00+0:26 The ball is delivered by Cameron Jerome, Andy Dawson manages to make a clearance.
88:03 Cameron Jerome challenges Steven Mouyokolo unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Matt Duke.
87:34 Shot from outside the area by Tom Cairney misses to the left of the goal.
86:27 Craig Gardner concedes a free kick for a foul on Paul McShane. Matt Duke restarts play with the free kick.
85:17 Lee Bowyer fouled by Jozy Altidore, the ref awards a free kick. Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
84:30 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Tom Cairney by Sebastian Larsson. Direct free kick taken by George Boateng.
84:13 Jimmy Bullard takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
81:24 Stephen Carr fouled by Jozy Altidore, the ref awards a free kick. Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
80:41 Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson.
80:29 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Paul McShane.
78:53 Jimmy Bullard takes a long range shot harmlessly clearing the crossbar.
77:54 Unfair challenge on Steven Mouyokolo by Kevin Phillips results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Andy Dawson.
76:04 Jozy Altidore is caught offside. Stephen Carr restarts play with the free kick.
74:34 Free kick taken by Jimmy Bullard.
74:34 Substitution Jozy Altidore is brought on as a substitute for Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
74:34 Foul by Sebastian Larsson on Jimmy Bullard, free kick awarded.
72:35 George Boateng concedes a free kick for a foul on Barry Ferguson. Direct free kick taken by Sebastian Larsson.
71:07 Corner taken left-footed by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line, clearance by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
70:56 Sebastian Larsson takes a shot. Steven Mouyokolo gets a block in.
69:18 Unfair challenge on Kevin Kilbane by Cameron Jerome results in a free kick. Matt Duke restarts play with the free kick.
68:18 Jimmy Bullard delivers the ball, Liam Ridgewell makes a clearance.
66:30 The ball is sent over by Craig Gardner, Cameron Jerome concedes a free kick for a foul on Matt Duke. Direct free kick taken
by Matt Duke.
66:08 Corner from right by-line crossed in by Lee Bowyer, Ibrahima Sonko makes a clearance.
63:16 Centre by Craig Gardner.
Correction - 62:22 Substitution Keith Fahey leaves the field to be replaced by Sebastian Larsson.
Correction - 62:22 Scott Dann fouled by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink, the ref awards a free kick.
62:22 Joe Hart takes the direct free kick.
62:22 Substitution Sebastian Larsson comes on in place of Keith Fahey.
62:22 awarded for an unfair challenge on Scott Dann by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
61:57 The referee penalises Kevin Phillips for handball. Direct free kick taken by Matt Duke.
61:07 Shot by Tom Cairney from outside the box goes high over the crossbar.
59:16 Substitution Kevin Phillips on for James McFadden.
58:28 Unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson by Craig Fagan results in a free kick. James McFadden crosses the ball from the free kick
left-footed from right wing.
56:49 Foul by Paul McShane on Cameron Jerome, free kick awarded. Barry Ferguson takes the direct free kick.
56:09 Foul by Lee Bowyer on Kevin Kilbane, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Andy Dawson.
55:05 Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink is ruled offside. Indirect free kick taken by Joe Hart.
53:54 The assistant referee signals for offside against Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Joe Hart takes the indirect free kick.
53:12 Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink is adjudged to have handled the ball. Free kick taken by Lee Bowyer.
52:55 A cross is delivered by James McFadden, save by Matt Duke.
48:01 Inswinging corner taken by Jimmy Bullard, Shot from just outside the box by George Boateng goes over the bar.
47:22 Craig Fagan sends in a cross, Craig Gardner makes a clearance.
46:44 Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Matt Duke makes a save.
45:01 The referee blows his whistle to start the second half.
45:00+2:10 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+1:48 The ball is swung over by Keith Fahey.
45:00+1:00 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Keith Fahey, clearance made by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.
42:50 Foul by Craig Gardner on Andy Dawson, free kick awarded. Andy Dawson restarts play with the free kick.
41:11 Keith Fahey takes a shot. Matt Duke makes a save.
40:04 Andy Dawson delivers the ball, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink takes a shot. Matt Duke makes a save.
38:48 Lee Bowyer takes a shot. Matt Duke makes a save.
38:12 Shot by Jimmy Bullard from outside the box goes over the target.
33:45 Lee Bowyer has a header from close in and clears the crossbar.
33:01 Inswinging corner taken by Keith Fahey, Matt Duke manages to make a clearance.
32:42 Keith Fahey takes a shot. Ibrahima Sonko gets a block in.
31:38 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephen Carr by Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. Roger Johnson restarts play with
the free kick.
30:36 James McFadden takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance by Andy Dawson.
30:24 James McFadden takes a shot. George Boateng gets a block in.
28:53 The ball is crossed by Kevin Kilbane, clearance made by Liam Ridgewell.
27:58 Jimmy Bullard takes a shot. Blocked by Craig Gardner.
23:19 Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink concedes a free kick for a foul on Scott Dann. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
21:34 Jimmy Bullard takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
20:57 Keith Fahey takes a inswinging corner to the near post, clearance made by George Boateng.
20:52 Craig Gardner crosses the ball, Paul McShane manages to make a clearance.
19:34 James McFadden delivers the ball.
19:06 Unfair challenge on James McFadden by Andy Dawson results in a free kick. Stephen Carr takes the free kick.
16:52 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer by George Boateng. Barry Ferguson takes the direct free kick.
16:12 Unfair challenge on Jimmy Bullard by Lee Bowyer results in a free kick. Jimmy Bullard takes the direct free kick.
15:45 The ball is crossed by Kevin Kilbane, clearance by Scott Dann.
14:45 Kevin Kilbane delivers the ball, clearance by Liam Ridgewell.
12:42 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Craig Gardner by Steven Mouyokolo. Centre by Craig Gardner, Scott Dann has a
headed effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the left of the target.
10:41 George Boateng concedes a free kick for a foul on Cameron Jerome. Stephen Carr takes the free kick.
10:13 Ibrahima Sonko sends in a cross, Scott Dann makes a clearance.
8:25 James McFadden concedes a free kick for a foul on Tom Cairney. Andy Dawson takes the free kick.
6:13 Corner from the right by-line taken by James McFadden, Paul McShane makes a clearance.
3:53 James McFadden produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that goes wide left of the goal.
Correction - 3:13 Inswinging corner taken left-footed by James McFadden, clearance made by Paul McShane.
0:00 The referee gets the game underway.
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