Birmingham City 1 Manchester United 1

Last updated : 09 January 2010 By Footymad Previewer
Manchester United may have closed the gap on league leaders Chelsea to one point, but manager Sir Alex Ferguson cannot be happy with this performance which mirrored recent displays.

Although they often over-ran Birmingham, they were unable to take a controlling grip on the game and there was a lot to be desired from this latest performance.

They suffered a serious setback when Cameron Jerome gave Birmingham a first-half lead which was only cancelled out by an unfortunate own goal from Scott Dann.

United also finished the game with ten men after Darren Fletcher was sent off for a second yellow card following a tackle on Jerome.

For Birmingham, who have failed to beat United in the Premier League era, it was a memorable game as they achieved a new club record of going 12 games without defeat, breaking the previous benchmark which had stood since February 1908.

As expected, Ferguson made seven changes in his line-up following the disappointment of United's FA Cup exit against Leeds - the 100th successive match in which he has changed his team formation.

In sharp contrast, Birmingham City, the Premier League's form side, were unchanged for the ninth consecutive game as they successfully set up their new club unbeaten record.

United's stars quickly made known their intention known with an all out attacking formation aimed at forcing Birmingham to collapse.

But Birmingham have proved resolute defenders in their recent run of success and United struggled to find a way through the opposition in a hectic opening 20 minutes.

Wayne Rooney was a strong runner and put Birmingham skipper Stephen Carr under pressure in this spell. But the veteran Irishman held firm and in so doing did much to inspire the rest of his team.

Jonny Evans and Wes Brown were well on top of Cameron Jerome and Christian Benitez in this period and as a result it was a much better United display than that produced against Leeds.

The first real chance of the match fell to Rooney in the 25th minute when Fletcher found the England striker, who had timed his run perfectly into open space.

But with only Joe Hart to beat, Rooney say his low shot cannon against the outstretched leg of the on loan goalkeeper.

This signalled even stronger attacking pressure from the Red Devils and there were sterling defensive performances from Roger Johnson and Liam Ridgewell.

The game then turned on its head in the 40th minute when Jerome had his first shot blocked for a corner.

James McFadden's cross was knocked out to Lee Bowyer and his header was blocked by Evans into the path of Jerome to lash home his shot to put Birmingham into a shock lead.

It could have been even worse four minutes into the second period when a snap-shot from Benitez was anxiously saved by Tomasz Kuszczak.

United's well-merited equaliser came in the 63rd minute but it was a tragedy for Birmingham's young defender, Dann, who conceded an own goal.

It was like a pinball machine in the Birmingham defence. Rooney's shot was blocked as was Paul Scholes' effort which cannoned out to the left where Patrice Evra's shot was turned into the net by the luckless Dann.

Birmingham were far from demoralised and Benitez again tested Kuszczak with a blistering shot.

United lost Fletcher in the 84th minute as the game drifted away to a draw with honours generally even but leaving question marks against United.