Date: 1st February 2009 at 9:17pm
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KEVIN Phillips provided another cruel blow for Wednesday as his last minute leveller gave promotion-chasing Birmingham a share of the spoils in an even encounter at Hillsborough on Saturday night.

Lewis Buxton had given the Owls a deserved second half lead which looked to have bagged Brian Laws’ men all three points in front of the Sky cameras.

But increased pressure from the Blues and a lack of concentration at the back allowed Alex McLeish’s men to steal a point at the death – and it was that man Phillips who did the damage once again for the visitors at a chilly Hillsborough.

Laws made just the one change to the side that lost 2-1 at Nottingham Forest in midweek with Leon Clarke replacing the suspended Francis Jeffers in partnering Marcus Tudgay in attack.

Wednesday more than matched their promotion-chasing rivals throughout, and often played the better football.

The Owls started brightly possession wise, but rarely threatened the Blues goal in a calm opening exchanges.

Jermaine Johnson proved the Owls key player once again, his pace and trickery causing all kinds of problems in the Birmingham defence throughout.

Birmingham had their own wing magician though in the form of Scott Sinclair, but the Owls defence often seemed on top of Sinclair’s trickery, while fellow new signing Hameur Bouzza and Lee Bowyer also looked threatening.

The Blues carved the first half chance of the match when a deep cross found former Leeds man Bowyer at the far post but his header was comfortably saved by in-form Lee Grant.

In reply, Johnson fired a warning shot at the Blues goal when he twisted and turned the Birmingham defence before unleashing a powerful low effort straight at Maik Taylor.

Darren Potter and Michael Gray will also have been keen to put in a good performance in front of the Sky cameras and against their former foes – being on loan from Midlands’ rivals Wolves, and the former saw a free kick comfortably stopped by Taylor.

Neither side created any further clear cut chances in a relatively lacklustre first half, though Wednesday will have no doubt been the happier of the two teams going into the break.

Half-Time: Wednesday 0-0 Birmingham

The second half proved a more open affair with both sides carving out good chances in the opening exchanges.

Leon Clarke was hustled off the ball when in a good position in front of the Birmingham goal.

But a better chance arose at the other end when former Owls trailist Cameron Jerome broke free of Richard Wood and looked favourite to find the back of the net, but he poked his effort agonisingly wide of the goal in front of the travelling Blues’ fans.

But Wednesday regathered themselves and broke the deadlock just minutes before the hour mark.

James O’Connor, far from enjoying his best game in the blue and white stripes, was the architect as he swung over a cross which Buxton rose to and forced Taylor into a point blank range before following up and finding the back of the net with his second attempt.

The goal gave both sides a lift, with Wednesday looking more confident on the ball and the visitors upping their gear to get back into the game.

It was almost 2-0 just minutes later when man-of-the-match Tudgay put Clarke through and former Aston Villa defender Liam Ridgewell blocked his effort well to keep the Blues in the game.

Birmingham were struggling for chances in front of goal and were relying on mistakes in the Wednesday backline to get through on goal.

One such error saw Jerome again through on goal, but for some superb defender by Beevers to divert the effort away for a corner.

While the Blues were putting men forward, they ere leaving space for Wednesday to create at the other end, Potter and Tudgay both going close from the edge of the box in quick succession.

Wednesday looked to be heading for all three points before the fourth official showed four minutes of stoppage time to most people’s amazement inside S6.

And it was former Sunderland and West Brom man Phillips who was in the right place at the right time to power home the Blues’ leveller in the third minute of of that time.

Full-Time: Wednesday 1-1 Birmingham

wls: Grant, Buxton, Beevers, Wood, Spurr, Johnson (Small 83), O’Connor, Potter, Gray, Tudgay, Clarke. Unused subs: Hinds, Watson, McAllister, Boden.

Birmingham: Maik Taylor, Murphy, Ridgewell, Martin Taylor, Carsley (Fahey 74), Sinclair, Parnaby (Larsson 68), Jerome (Bent 80), Phillips. Unused subs: Doyle, Johnson.