Birmingham City 0-0 Queens Park Rangers: A dramatic game that only lacked goals
The points were shared on Friday night (Photo by Cameron Smith via Getty Images)

The two goalkeepers stole the show at St Andrews as Birmingham City were held to a goalless stalemate by Queens Park Rangers on a chilly Friday night.

Story of the game

The first chance of the night fell to Sinclair Armstrong, who failed to get over the ball and headed over the bar from two yards out. The Irishman played Paul Smyth down the right, who clipped a ball in to the danger zone, evading the searching head of aerial threat, Lyndon Dykes. It fell to Ilias Chair at the back-post, who flashed an effort towards the near-post, looking to catch out John Ruddy.

His strike deflected off the shot-stopper and travelled centrally, but Armstrong could not adjust in time, and watched his header sail clear of the target.

Fulham-loanee Jay Stansfield looked sharp throughout, and threatened early on. After being found on the right flank by Juninho Bacuna, he raced forward and unleashed a tempting low-cross into the six-yard-box. Steve Cook intercepted excellently with a sliding challenge that relieved the London outfit of any pressure.

Sam Field came to the rescue for QPR in the first-half after Lee Buchanan's cross from the left troubled the visitors' defence and flashed across the face of goal. The experienced Cook threw his trailing leg at the ball to deny the awaiting Stansfield. It ricocheted off the back of his leg, and was parried by Asmir Begovic. The ball's trajectory altered to the back of the net, and the deadlock looked to be broken.

But, the young midfielder saved the day and sensationally hooked the ball off the line with an overhead kick. Over three-quarters of the ball had crossed the line, but the remaining fraction maintained the R's clean sheet.

Just after the half-hour mark, Ruddy was called into action again as Smyth forced a smart save from him after cutting in on his left foot. The 'keeper saw it late after the low strike evaded several Blue shirts, but reacted rapidly to palm the ball away.

Shortly after the interval, Krystian Bielik swiftly swivelled and released a strike with venom on the half-volley that forced Begovic to leap into action. The Bosnian got two strong hands on the strike, denying the Pole what would have been a deserved opener.

It was end-to-end stuff, as the visitors threatened at the other end. Chair pulled it back to the advancing Dykes who kept his cool in-front of goal, and fired an attempt at the bottom left corner. Ruddy responded immediately, and managed to palm the ball away and against the body of the stunned Field, who could only spectate as a goal-kick was given.

The highly-intense tempo continued as only a few minutes later, substitute, Oli Burke flicked the ball on to Koji Miyoshi who played in striker, Scott Hogan. The Ireland international was faced with the task of slotting the ball past the outrushing Begovic, who came out on top after narrowing the angle brilliantly to keep his clean sheet intact.

The travelling fans were inches away from pandemonium, but were denied by the outstretched wrist of the 36-year-old in the Blues net. Ruddy made another exceptional reactionary save in the 79th minute after Dykes glanced a powerful header goalward deep into the second half.

The referee blew his whistle to conclude an entertaining night in the second city, as each side took a singular point.

  • Man of the match

Either goalkeeper would be a deserved recipient of the man of the match award, but Asmir Begovic's crucial save to stop Hogan from notching the winner just about edged it.

Asmir Begovic saved many shots, and his side (Photo by Cameron Smith via Getty Images)
Asmir Begovic saved many shots, and his side (Photo by Cameron Smith via Getty Images)

The point will arguably be more important for QPR, as Gareth Ainsworth's main target is survival.

The Bosnian evidenced his experience at the top level, and saved his side on several occasions. A performance worthy of a clean sheet will hopefully kick on the R's season, who are winless in their last 24 fixtures after finding themselves a goal to the good.