BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE: Birmingham City 1 Newcastle United 1
Birmingham City missed a golden opportunity to ease their relegation fears as they were held at St Andrew's by a Newcastle side that still has not tasted victory under manager Kevin Keegan and is unexpectedly sliding towards the trap door to the Championship.
England international Michael Owen struck in the second half to cancel out a James McFadden strike that had deservedly given Blues a half-time lead.
While this relegation six-pointer was a game neither side could afford to lose, a point each does very little for the precarious positions of both teams.
While Blues had expected to be embroiled in a relegation dogfight this season ever since they earned an automatic return to the top flight, Newcastle's precarious position has come as a complete shock to the Toon Army, who imagined they would be chasing a European spot at this stage of the campaign, not scrapping for their lives alongside the likes of Blues, Fulham and bitter local rivals Sunderland.
After dispensing with the services of Sam Allardyce, the arrival of saviour Kevin Keegan should have heralded a return to form, or so Newcastle would have hoped, instead the season has continued to slip away from United to the point where the slide has been almost impossible to stop.
Under Keegan, Newcastle had lost six and drawn two of his eight games in charge, and had lost their last four - hardly the work of a Messiah. In his 11-year absence, Keegan obviously hadn't lost his trademark cavalier spirit and he fielded all three of his 'big guns' in attack - Mark Viduka, Obafemi Martins and Owen - a strike force with a combined value of £26 million (Viduka was free but how much must he be worth in the open market?).
Any of Newcastle's relegation rivals would have their chances of survival dramatically increased with only one of the trio, let alone all three.
However, it was Birmingham's £5 million signing McFadden that stood out as the star of the show in the first half. The Scottish international made Blues tick and gave Abdoulaye Faye a torrid time.
He had a shot deflected inches wide after only six minutes and then set up Fabrice Muamba with a sublime pass but the Blues midfielder ballooned his shot over the bar.
After Mikael Forssell and Rahdi Jaidi also went close as the home side dominated the half, McFadden latched on to a David Murphy ball in the area, turned Faye and slipped the ball beneath Stephen Harper in the Newcastle goal.
McFadden hadn't finished torturing Keegan's men and he had a strong shout for a penalty turned down by referee Howard Webb just before half time when he again bamboo-zled Faye and appeared to be blocked off by the Newcastle defender.
In contrast, the visitors barely threatened. A wild Owen shot was their first effort on goal after 24 minutes and the only time Maik Taylor was troubled in the first half was by team-mate Stephen Kelly, who almost turned a Geremi cross into his own net on the stroke of half time.
When Newcastle did break through, Owen was denied an equaliser six minutes after the interval by a stunning save from Taylor.
But Blues have not kept a clean sheet since Boxing Day, and only three all season, and their poor defensive sequence cost them again in the 56th minute. Liam Ridgewell failed to clear his lines and when Taylor produced another smart save to stop a Martins effort from the edge of the area, Owen slid in to ram the rebound home.
After seeming to be out of the game, Newcastle now had the bit between their teeth and Taylor was certainly the busier of the two keepers, much to the frustration of the Blues fans.
He produced fine saves to deny Jose Enrique and then Martins as Newcastle poured forward but Blues survived.
However, the fact is that Blues have struggled to beat their relegation rivals, especially on home soil. In recent weeks, they have picked up only three points from games against their closest rivals Fulham, Derby County, Sunder-land and now Newcastle. That statistic could come back to haunt them.
Scorers: McFadden (33) 1-0; Owen (56) 1-1.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Ridgewell, Kelly, Jaidi, Murphy; Muamba, Larsson (Parnaby, h/t), Johnson, McSheffrey; Forssell (Jerome, 71), McFadden (Zarate, 86). Subs: Doyle, Nafti.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (4-3-3): Harper; Enrique, Barton, Beye, Steven Taylor; Faye, Butt, Geremi; Viduka, Owen, Martins (N'Zogbia 80). Subs: Forster, Da Silva, Smith, Carroll. Referee: Howard Webb (Yorkshire)
Bookings: Blues - Kelly, Parnaby (both fouls); Newcastle - Geremi, Steven Taylor (both fouls).