First Team Match Report
Blues battled their way to a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Charlton this afternoon despite being reduced to ten men for much of the second half following Geoff Horsfield's dismissal.
But it was referee Rob Style's who will make the headlines tonight after flashing eight yellow cards in addition to the red for the Blues striker.
Club captain Steve Vickers returned to the starting line-up today for the first time since the Albion game back in October.
Vickers replaced Darren Purse who was forced to withdraw from the game after picking up an ankle injury during training yesterday.
Blues set about the game in determined fashion and the first chance fell to Geoff Horsfield after the powerful striker collected the ball from Kirovski with his back to goal, before turning and firing in a low snap-shot which Dean Kiely did well to hold.
But Charlton were showing why that had moved so rapidly up the league in recent weeks though with some bright attacking football of their own.
The visitors' very nearly took the lead on 12 minutes but Gary Rowett's goalbound header was cleared off the line by Kenny Cunningham and away from the danger zone.
Kirovski then struck a superb free kick for Blues from the edge of the box, but Paul Konchevsky was well-positioned on his own goal line to head the ball away.
Blues were beginning to press and Kirovski's corner was collected by Clinton Morrison in the middle of the penalty box, but the Blues striker was unable to connect properly with the ball and his shot drifted well-wide.
Against the run of play Kevin Lisbie was set free on the Blues goal by Konchevsky, but with just Nico Vaesen to beat he fired straight at the Belgian stopper.
St Andrew's was then silenced by a Claus Jensen goal.
A one-two involving Scott Parker and the Dane left him free to expertly round Vaesen with the ball, before calmly sliding it into an empty net to make it 1-0 the Addicks.
Despite being a goal down Blues were unable to raise their game or create any real chances for the rest of the half and it disappointingly petered out with the visitors' lead intact.
Half-time: Blues 0 Charlton 1
With Steve Bruce's half-time words ringing in their ears, Blues began the second half much more brightly and began to win more of the midfield contests taking place.
But the home crowd was stunned after 55 minutes when Geoff Horsfield received his second straight red card of the season after clashing with Luke Young.
Referee Rob Styles adjudged that Horsfield had deliberately gone in with his studs up on the Charlton player and had no hesitation in sending him from the field, much to the dismay of the Blues bench and players.
In the ensuing melee Morrison and Scott Parker both received yellow cards.
Steve Bruce then made a tactical switch replacing Jeff Kenna with Stan Lazaridis and Damien John with Paul Devlin.
Their introduction almost paid immediate dividends when Devlin broke through from the right of the box and drove in a powerful low effort which was deflected just wide.
Despite being down to ten men Blues raised their game and with the backing of the vociferous St Andrew's crowd were then rewarded with a goal after 67 minutes when Aliou Cisse was brought down by Jensen for a penalty.
Devlin stepped up to take the spot kick and thumped it past Kiely to the delight of Blues fans.
Buoyed by the goal, Blues then began to dominate the proceedings with Lazaridis in particular causing problems down the left flank.
Cisse then got himself needlessly booked after confronting the referee's assistant and appearing to suggest he needed glasses after a foul was given against him.
The booking took the Senegal midfielder to ten cautions for the season, meaning he will miss the forthcoming Fulham and Arsenal games.
Charlton then began to take advantage of their numerical advantage and Parker had a good chance on goal from 12 yards out but he sliced his shot wide.
Blues broke down the other end and Devlin's ball found Lazaridis at the far post but the Aussie winger headed over the bar.
Tebily was next to incur the wrath of the card-happy referee Styles after bringing down Parker just outside his own penalty box.
Jensen took the resultant free kick but his effort landed on top of Vaesen's net.
A further three bookings followed in the 87th minute when Savage, Young and Rowett were all cautioned following an incident involving Savage and Young in which the Blues midfielder was hacked down.
With minutes to go Blues continued to search for the winner, but were unable to break down the stubborn Addicks defence and were forced to settle for a well-deserved battling draw.
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