Birmingham City 1 Newcastle United 1

Last updated : 17 March 2008 By Footymad Previewer
Michael Owen's second-half equaliser secured a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City and ended Newcastle United's dismal run of four straight defeats.

However, Birmingham were disappointed with the outcome in this survival battle after their tenacious Scotland international striker James McFadden had given them a first-half lead.

The result leaves both clubs with a fight on their hands, but for Newcastle there is at least a glimmer of hope that their fortunes are about to turn for the better.

Much of the early part of the game was played at a frantic pace with Newcastle the more positive, but it was Birmingham who had the best chance to go ahead when a snap-shot by McFadden was deflected just wide of the post.

Mark Viduka, who was making his first appearance since February 3, certainly made every effort to atone for his recent absence.

He played with great purpose as if determined to spark off Newcastle's much needed revival, but then faded in the Magpies' general demise.

It was Viduka's opposite number, Mikael Forssell, who went close to opening his account with another shot which went just inches the wrong side of the post followed minutes later by a Radhi Jaidi header in exactly the same spot.

Some impatience began to creep into Newcastle's play and it was fortunate that Joey Barton was able to impress in his midfield role to put Birmingham out of their stride.

There was not much culture about the general play as it was a battle of survival for both clubs and it was the fragile fabric of Newcastle's defence which was the first to be broken in the 33rd minute.

David Murphy provided a left-wing cross which found McFadden, who shrugged off Abdoulaye Diagne-Faye before slotting the ball past Steve Harper.

Birmingham then had a lucky let-off when Stephen Kelly turned a cross towards his own goal forcing Maik Taylor to make his first save of the game.

Taylor must have thought he had been beaten early in the second period, but Owen conspired to miss from close range.

But the diminutive England striker popped up in the 56th minute to grab the equaliser after an Obafemi Martins shot had been blocked.

Invigorated by their goal, Newcastle's faith in themselves was suddenly revived as they realised that they were in with a real chance of producing a long overdue win.

Birmingham, however, settled for a point well before the end of the game as they took off both Forssell and McFadden in their ultimately successful bid to shut out the visitors.