Belfast Telegraph

Hoilett nets much-needed equaliser

Junior Hoilett cancelled out an earlier strike by Lee Bowyer in first-half injury time as relegation-battling Blackburn and Birmingham had to settle for a point each from a 1-1 draw.

Bowyer nodded home from point-blank range after Cameron Jerome had put a cross from Sebastian Larsson across the face of goal with keeper Paul Robinson beaten.

But Hoilett capitalised on a howler by Liam Ridgewell, racing clear to round Blues keeper Ben Foster and slide home the equaliser.

Rovers carved out a fine chance in the opening seconds when Hoilett threaded a pass to Jermaine Jones in the box but the American slipped and his chance went begging.

In a promising start by Rovers, captain Christopher Samba came close in the fifth minute when he stooped to head a Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick just wide of Foster's right-hand post.

Ryan Nelsen headed a Pedersen corner into Foster's hands as the visitors struggled to get a grip on the game, offering little other than Cameron Jerome's scampering counter-attacks.

Birmingham grabbed the lead out of nowhere in the 32nd minute when Bowyer headed them in front after a cross by Jerome. They came close to making it 2-0 two minutes before the break when David Dunn fouled Craig Gardner and Seb Larsson slammed the free-kick against the post.

A nasty-looking injury to Roger Johnson meant a lengthy period of stoppage time, in which Hoilett grabbed his opportunist equaliser.

Birmingham looked the better side early in the second half and Larsson once again came close from a free-kick which Paul Robinson saved well. Rovers came close in the 55th minute when Hoilett turned in the box and crossed for Roque Santa Cruz, who headed against the top of the bar.

Pedersen slammed a dangerous 75th-minute free-kick into the Birmingham wall and clear-cut chances were few and far between in a scrappy final 10 minutes in which both sides' frustrations grew.

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