EFL

Birmingham’s bright start stutters as Millwall take a point

By Sports Desk September 02, 2023

On-loan striker Jay Stansfield’s second-half goal rescued a point for Birmingham against Millwall to maintain the club’s unbeaten start to the Championship season.

Stansfield grabbed his second in two league games after Kevin Nisbet had given the Lions an early lead.

Birmingham’s Scott Hogan could have equalised deep into first-half stoppage time but his penalty was saved.

The West Midlands side started brightly with Lee Buchanan’s dangerous left-wing cross heading for Hogan but the City striker was quickly crowded out.

Juninho Bacuna then sliced high and wide as it looked like the home side were taking control.

But the visitors struck after just six minutes.

City keeper John Ruddy got a hand to Nisbet’s 22-yard free-kick but could not keep it out after Kevin Long had fouled Tom Bradshaw.

Stansfield glanced a header wide of Millwall keeper Matija Sarkic’s back post before Bradshaw’s effort sailed over Ruddy’s bar.

Bacuna went close twice in as many minutes as the hosts battled to get back on terms.

Blues skipper Dion Sanderson headed over Keshi Anderson’s free-kick at the back post when he should have hit the target.

Millwall thought they had gone 2-0 up after 20 minutes.

Ryan Leonard fired in a George Saville corner but the spectacular strike was disallowed after his volley was judged to have hit Jake Cooper who was standing in an offside position.

The home crowd grew restless as opportunities dried up with the visitors defending resolutely.

However, Birmingham were awarded a penalty five minutes into stoppage time in the first-half after Sarkic fouled Anderson as he latched on to a slide-rule Bacuna pass.

But the goalkeeper made amends as he dived to his right to brilliantly save Hogan’s spot-kick – and Ivan Sunjic shot wide from the rebound.

The equaliser came eight minutes after the restart.

Stansfield hammered a stunning shot into the bottom left-hand corner after he ran on to an outstanding reverse pass from Bacuna.

And Stansfield, on loan from Fulham, almost put Birmingham ahead minutes later but his fierce attempt was well dealt with by Sarkic.

Millwall still posed a danger and Ruddy had to be alert to smother Saville’s 25-yard effort on his line.

City midfielder Krystian Bielik headed away Brooke Norton-Cuffy’s attempt as the frantic contest continued to swing from end to end.

Sarkic acted quickly to cut out Sunjic’s drilled cross into the six-yard box in the closing minutes.

A final chance fell to left-back Buchanan who blasted high and wide as Birmingham pushed forward hunting a late winner.

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