Birmingham City 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1

Birmingham City had not dropped a point in five matches, Wolverhampton Wanderers had not won a point in five away matches.

Only one result then, really . . . a point apiece.

But Wolves' capture of their first away point in more than two months was not quite as easily explained as that.

For starters, it took an excellent goalkeeping performance by Matt Murray to keep them in with even a shout of a result. A superb display of handling, timing and bravery, served up for the benefit of one particularly interested spectator, Stephen Clemence's dad.

It's safe to say that the England goalkeeping coach, Ray Clemence, the original "England's, England's No 1", will have gone away from St Andrew's with an instant assessment of Murray as not just one for the future any more, but very much one for the present.

There are only two more questions surely to be asked about Murray now the 25-year-old appears to have finally put his latest injury nightmare behind him  . . . when he will get his first England cap? And will it happen while he is still a Wolves player?

The only other big question this game threw up was just how Wolves managed to score the goal that helped them avoid defeat at St Andrew's for a fourth successive time?

The Blues camp counted two infringements in the build-up, although they were happy to concentrate on just one, Gary Breen's clumsy challenge on Sebastian Larsson.

But suffice to say that Wolves captain Jody Craddock should never have had the chance to arrive at the far post to meet Bothroyd's near-post flick-on from Rohan Ricketts' corner and bullet home his equalising 89th-minute header.

Bruce, by his standards, was restrained in his post-match comments, going more for the ironic than the irate approach.

"The ref said he didn't think he had a head injury," said Bruce. "That must have been why he was rolling around on the floor with his head in his hands. He must have thought he'd hurt his ankle!

"Put simply, it's a foul on Larsson and it's a handball.

"I'm not saying it's a deliberate elbow but Larsson has gone down with a head injury. Usually that gets pulled up and the ref stops the game or the opposition kick the ball out.

"And there are repercussions. We're a man down, his area is the near post and when the ball comes in, there's nobody there."

As befits a manager who had not seen his side even score on their travels in two months, never mind earn even a point, Wolves boss Mick McCarthy, invariably a man to see both sides of the story, was not at his most sympathetic.

"We've taken a good corner, we've got a flick-on, Jody Craddock's gone round the back and scored. And, from my point of view, I don't really give a fiddler's what happened in the build-up," he said. "I'm not pleading the fifth, I just didn't get a proper view of it.

"There were two minutes left, and there might have been a element of him trying to stop the game. But I didn't see any blood coming out of him, he's not got a broken nose and I've not seen him rubbing his jaw.

"And Steve's unhappy as he's just lost two points."

Bruce was unhappy, but more for the way his side failed to finish off a game that Gary McSheffrey's first-half strike should have won them.

Although it was a one-sided Blue-dominated first half, Wolves did at least start brightly in a much altered 4-5-1 formation, young Lewis Gobern getting the game's first shot on target with a low right foot shot well dealt with by Maik Taylor. And, although they ended the half encouragingly when Karl Henry's hopeful 30-yarder flew off Bendtner for a corner, their only other efforts were poor and too sporadic.

Blues, by contrast, had always looked like scoring, twin strikers Cameron Jerome and Nicklas Bendtner both firing just off target either side of McSheffrey testing the keeper for the first time.

The home side then had an excellent penalty claim when Karl Henry brought down McSheffrey in the box, although justice was done given that Wolves right back Mark Little had been fouled himself in the build-up.

Murray then dealt with Larsson's 30-yard free kick for the first of two Gary Breen fouls in quick succession on Jerome. But, when Jerome this time got clear, Breen went unpunished for crucially slowing him up, allowing Murray the time to race from his line and finish the job with a superb block.

It had only been a matter of time before Blues went in front. And the breakthrough finally came just before the half hour when Bendtner nodded down and McSheffrey feinted to the left before powering home from 20 yards, thereby matching top scorer Bendtner's tally of seven goals for the campaign.

It was also the third season running that he has banged one in against Wolves. And, with Murray still having to save from Bendtner before the break, it looked like there might be more to come.

Admittedly, it was Blues keeper Maik Taylor who had the first save to make after the break, when he was adjudged to have turned aside young Daniel Jones' free-kick. But it was nothing compared to the double save that Murray then pulled off at the other end, parrying Bendtner's low cross before making astonishing ground to block again at Jerome's feet.

Another save from Bendtner with his legs before a great tackle by Breen on Jerome, another important block by Craddock on McSheffrey on the break, and Clemence's shot wide kept Wolves in it. Then, just when a sixth successive Blues league win for the first time in two decades seemed assured, came the game's key moment.

Breen's collision with Larsson went unpunished, Wolves went up the other end, won their all-important corner and Craddock materialised at the far post to bullet home his header.

Even then, Neil Danns and McSheffrey still had chances. But Wolves had stolen that point. And all Bruce had to console him was the wise words of McCarthy.

"Anybody who finishes above them will win the league," said the Wolves boss. "Mind you," he added with a grin, "I said the same about West Brom and I put the mockers on them."

BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Kelly, Martin Taylor, Jaidi, Sadler; Larsson, Muamba (Nafti, 74), Clemence, McSheffrey; Jerome (Danns, 74), Bendtner. Subs: Doyle (gk), Kilkenny, Campbell.
WOLVERHAMPTON WANDERERS (4-5-1): Murray; Little, Craddock, Breen, Mulgrew (Edwards, 36); Gobern, Henry, Olofinjana, Potter (Johnson, 81), Jones (Ricketts, 71); Bothroyd. Subs: Ikeme (gk), Davies.
Referee: Mark Halsey (Bolton).
Booking: Wolves — Gobern (foul).
Attendance: 22,256.

>> Clemence curses switch-off

>> Craddock's relief

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