Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 26 October 2014

Second-city duo share spoils

Nigel Reo-Coker

Birmingham were on the wrong end of more penalty controversy as they earned a goalless draw in the derby clash at Aston Villa.

Alex McLeish's side had been beaten by a hotly disputed spot-kick in the corresponding fixture last season.

This time Villa skipper Nigel Reo-Coker appeared to control the ball with his arm inside the box just before half-time - but the visitors' penalty appeals were rejected by referee Howard Webb.

Villa finished the stronger of the two teams but have now gone three league games without a goal and it would have been harsh on Birmingham to end up with nothing.

The first half chance fell to Craig Gardner whose first time shot in the box was goal-bound but blocked by Villa defender James Collins.

Ben Foster was relieved when his clearance was charged down by Reo-Coker and flew out of play for a goal-kick after another under-hit back pass from Liam Ridgewell.

Birmingham had strong appeals for a penalty rejected after 38 minutes when the ball appeared to hit the lower arm of Reo-Coker but they were waved away by Webb.

It was 56 minutes before Foster made his first meaningful save of the game, parrying away a low dipping attempt by Reo-Coker from outside the box.

Keiran Clark headed just wide after substitute John Carew had turned the ball back across the box and he needed treatment after being caught by Foster.

Ashley Young clipped the outside of a post with a rising drive as Villa searched in vain for a winner.

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