Mowatt rescues point for Leeds United
Alex Mowatt’s 76th minute goal enabled Leeds United to come from behind to earn their first away point of the season in a 1-1 draw with Birmingham City at St Andrews.
The Whites were behind at half-time and looked set to suffer their fourth defeat on their travels this season, but improved in the last half-hour to make it one win and a draw since Neil Redfearn took over as caretaker head coach.
United trailed 1-0 in a first half only notable for a couple of shots on target by the hosts and nine minutes of added time caused by the mending of the goal at one end after the back stanchion was broken.
Leeds once again tried the diamond shape that meant they had plenty of the ball, but no width and precious little creativity.
In contrast, Birmingham were more direct with a 4-4-2 in which all their players knew the job that was being asked of them. While they were not great they did offer more up front and were deservedly ahead at the break.
Brek Shea forced the first save of the game on eight minutes with a shot from range that was kept out by Marco Silvestri.
Giuseppe Bellusci then came close to an own goal with a back header that sent the ball just wide with Silvestri beaten.
But Leeds remained generally comfortable at the back, aside from one attack when Clayton Donaldson got a shot away in the box that sent the ball not far wide.
At the other end the Whites offered little, however, before Mirco Antenucci managed to stay onside for once and made a bit of space for himself on the edge of the box only to fire a shot wildly wide.
Leeds had a few shots blocked and almost created a chance when Alex Mowatt ran at the home defence, but they were insipid and could have no real complaints when they went a goal down on 37 minutes.
Wes Thomas got in behind a static Bellusci too easily and flashed a shot into the far top corner of the net. His shot was so powerful it broke the stanchion and the delay that followed did not help improve a lethargic feel to a poor first half.
Birmingham started the second half well and came close to doubling their lead when Shea headed over from a free-kick with Silvestri having come and stopped to find himself on no man’s land.
Donaldson then ran at the Leeds defence and sent an angled shot into the side netting.
United finally managed their first shot on target on 56 minutes when Mowatt got forward to get a strike in from the edge of the box that was saved by Darren Randolph.
Caretaker Redfearn made two substitutions with Souleymane Doukara and Rudy Austin on for the ineffective Billy Sharp and Casper Sloth and striker Doukara quickly got in on the action to hit a shot wide from outside the box.
But it was Birmingham sub Demarai Gray getting a shot on target soon after a run at the Whites defence, although it was dealt with by Silvestri.
With Austin having a big impact in improving the energy of the team Leeds upped the tempo and were rewarded with an equaliser when Mowatt seized on a poor clearance to beat keeper Randolph with a low shot into the corner of the net.
Austin then had a goalbound shot blocked and Mowatt came close to his second with a far post header from Stephen Warnock’s cross.
In an exciting finish lively home sub Gray had a penalty shout waved away and was booked for a dive after running at Bellusci and seeing an outstretched leg.
In added time Thomas headed a good chance wide while at the other end Austin broke for Leeds only to see his shot saved by Randolph.
Birmingham City 1
Leeds United 1
Saturday, September 13
Sky Bet Championship
Birmingham: Randolph, Eardley, Edgar, Hall (Robinson 45), Grounds, Cotterill, Caddis, Davis (Spector 79), Shea (Gray 67), Thomas, Donaldson.
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock, Bianchi, Cook, Mowatt, Sloth (Austin), Antenucci, Sharp (Doukara 63).
Referee: S Duncan.