Birmingham City 0 Newcastle United 0

Last updated : 29 April 2006 By Footymad Previewer
Steve Bruce's future as Birmingham City's manager is on the line after the West Midlands club were finally consigned to the Championship.

Birmingham finally paid the penalty for their disappointing season which was doomed to failure as early as the opening two months of the season when they collected only one point from their first seven home games.

Their brave fight to avoid relegation took them to the penultimate game but they could not overcome a well disciplined Newcastle side, while Portsmouth clinched victory at Wigan.

The one real bonus that came out of the game was that after Manchester United's Wayne Rooney picked up an injury at Chelsea, Michael Owen made his return to action after four months on the sidelines with a broken foot to ensure Sven-Goran Eriksson had some good news.

But not even Owen in the final 30 minutes could inspire a Newcastle win.

Birmingham kept fighting to the end of the road in an attempt to finish their disastrous home campaign on a winning note.

Typically, they were denied three minutes from time by United skipper Shay Given who kept out an Emile Heskey shot with his legs.

Following five successive wins there was a confident assurance about the visitors as they calmly absorbed Birmingham's early pressure, as Titus Bramble came out on top in his duels with the out of form Heskey.

The isolated danger to Newcastle was the long-range shooting ability of Jiri Jarosik. He had a couple of efforts which were just off target.

Nevertheless the ability of Jarosik to find space to set-up possible goalscoring attempts encouraged the likes of Jermaine Pennant to turn on the style.

Danger from Newcastle's attack was always lurking just around the corner with Nobby Solano enjoying considerable space on the right.

It was from this area that Shola Ameobi threatened to open the scoring for the Magpies. Only determined tackling by skipper Kenny Cunningham and Mario Melchiot, who were both potentially making their last appearances at St. Andrew's, prevented the striker opening his account.

Wigan's opening goal against Portsmouth was received with the biggest cheer of the opening half hour, but Birmingham still struggled to break through a well-organised Newcastle team which generally appeared to have something to spare.

Mikael Forssell, still recovering from a long-term knee injury, tried to justify his surprise start with a couple of off target shots, but the best opportunity fell to the struggling Heskey.

Pennant's trickery was the key to the move which ended in Heskey turning slowly and firing in a weak shot from an opportunity that deserved a better finish.

Birmingham were certainly fired up more than West Bromwich last week when Albion were destroyed in the first half by Newcastle's firepower.

The Magpies had a wake-up call at the interval and this was reflected by a more positive approach.

Charles N'Zogbia was only prevented from getting in a shot by a desperate tackle from Melchiot, but there were still indications that United were slowly working up steam for a final onslaught.

Birmingham continued their desperate search for an elusive goal, while the introduction of Owen for Michael Chopra failed to ignite Newcastle, although they never looked in danger of leaving with anything less than a point.

The club from Tyneside therefore were the team who effectively relegated both Birmingham and West Bromwich Albion.