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  • Birmingham 1-1 Tottenham: Bassong great-finish, Gardner great-header

    Birmingham City came from a goal down to secure a 1-1 draw with Tottenham Hotspur in their Premier League meeting at St Andrew's.

    Sebastien Bassong scored his first goal since August to give in-form Spurs a first-half lead, before Craig Gardner claimed a deserved leveller for the Blues with 10 minutes remaining after a tactical switch from Alex McLeish saw him revert to 4-4-2 and introduce big target man Nikola Zigic.

    The sharing of the points does little for either side, however, with Birmingham and Spurs remaining 14th and fifth in the table respectively.

    Despite defender Michael Dawson returning to the Spurs squad for the first time since August after long-term injury, Bassong remained in the side after replacing the injured Younes Kaboul against Liverpool last Sunday, while Gardner was making his return from injury after a substitute appearance in the midweek Carling Cup win over local rivals Aston Villa.

    Considering the conservative nature of McLeish's side - just 12 goals had been scored in the league at St Andrew's this season ahead of the visit of Spurs - the opening quarter of the match was very open.

    Aaron Lennon - whose late winner against Liverpool typified his recent resurgence in form - skipped past Liam Ridgewell to the byline as early as the fourth minute. The winger's dinked cross found Peter Crouch, and the England striker's chest-and-volleyed effort was turned round the near post by Ben Foster.

    Former Tottenham full-back Stephen Carr had an early sighter for Birmingham after Lee Bowyer found him inside the area, but the Irishman sent his effort over the bar.

    As time wore on, Tottenham began to assert their control over proceedings, and when Gareth Bale popped up on the right wing, drawing a foul from Ridgewell with a skilful turn, Spurs took their chance from the dead ball.

    Bale swung the 19th-minute free-kick to the far post, where goalkeeper Foster dived in front of Crouch to punch clear. The ball only went as far as Bassong, who fired home from close range. It was the defender's first goal since he scored in the Champions League qualifier at Young Boys back in August.

    Gardner lost Luka Modric on the edge of the box and flashed a strike wide, but Spurs went into the break very much on top.

    That all changed at the start of the second half, when Birmingham emerged with renewed purpose.

    Gardner had a header saved by Heurelho Gomes before Cameron Jerome had an effort blocked by William Gallas.

    Jerome had spent much of the first half in isolation, save for the occasional support of promising winger Jean Beausejour, and he looked grateful to see Zigic replace Carr on the hour-mark.

    Jermain Defoe drilled a shot wide and Bale had a solid strike from an angle parried by Foster, but there was plenty of uncertainty creeping into the Spurs back line as a buoyed Blues side continued to press for the equaliser.

    Gomes spread himself well to block a Ridgewell effort, but then went down in understandably theatrical fashion and required treatment after blocking the strike with his nether regions.

    Moments later Birmingham were level, when the six-foot-eight Zigic headed a high ball from deep back across goal for Gardner to head home his fifth goal of the season.

    Either or both of Alan Hutton and substitute David Murphy could have seen red in injury time when Hutton retaliated to a late challenge by shoving his aggressor over, but referee Kevin Friend decided words were the best tools at his disposal, and soon enough the match ended with each side winning a half and claiming a point.
    Tony Mabert / Eurosport


    Team Line-up:

    Birmingham City: Foster, Carr, Johnson, Dann, Ridgewell, Gardner, Ferguson, Beausejour, Bowyer, Fahey, Jerome
    Subs: Taylor, Murphy, Larsson, Derbyshire, Michel, Zigic, Jiranek

    Tottenham Hotspur: Gomes, Hutton, Gallas, Bassong, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Palacios, Modric, Bale, Crouch, Defoe
    Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Dawson, Kranjcar, Corluka, Sandro, Pletikosa...
    Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)


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