Fulham dominated much of their latest pre-season friendly at St. Andrew’s but had to settle for a draw after being pegged back by a late leveller from Seb Larsson. Roy Hodgson’s side made most of the running but couldn’t capitalise on their dominance even after a terrific individual goal from Simon Davies put them in front early in the first half and Birmingham’s tenacity and never-say-attitude was rewarded when Larsson fired home a low finish after being set up by Cameron Jerome with thirteen minutes remaining.
Bobby Zamora might have opened the scoring with his very first touch but the striker’s dipping volley just cleared the crossbar after he latched onto a forward ball from skipper Danny Murphy straight from the kick off. John Pantsil’s wild challenge was adjudged to have been just outside the box and Fulham escaped when Larsson powered the ensuing free-kick straight into the wall.
Zamora went close with another volley that whistled over Maik Taylor’s crossbar after ten minutes when Stephen Kelly had headed clear Jimmy Bullard’s raking ball, but Fulham’s midfield quartet were beginning to play some enterprising football. Proof of that arrived courtesy of Davies’ brilliantly taken opener on seventeen minutes. The Welsh winger seized a poor pass from Stuart Parnaby to travel forty yards unimpeded with the ball and tuck a finish finish into the bottom corner to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Murphy and Seol linked up impressively on the half hour mark. After Bullard and the new Fulham captain had interchanged nicely inside the centre circle, Murphy threaded a beautiful ball between the Birmingham centre halves but former Fulham goalkeeper Taylor pulled off a brilliant reaction save to deny the Korean forward from twelve yards. Hodgson sent on Frederik Stoor for the second half, but it was the introduction of Marcus Bent by Steve Bruce that really galvanised the home side.
Martin Taylor headed just over when he evaded his marker to meet an inswinging Larsson free-kick after Paul Konchesky had been penalised for a foul. The home side were much more combative in the middle of the park now and largely restricted Fulham to long range efforts. Murphy drove over from 25 yards before he was replaced by Leon Andreasen and substitute Steven Davis that rattled the base of the post moments after coming on. Taylor then saved smartly from a Gera header and Birmingham broke up the other end to score.
It was no surprise that Larsson – one of Birmingham’s brightest performers all afternoon – brought Bruce’s side level. The Swedish midfielder burst onto a through ball from Cameron Jerome and drove across Mark Schwarzer into the bottom corner. The Championship side could have nicked it at the death but ex-Aston Villa midfielder Davis was on hand to scramble Jerome’s effort off his own line.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; David Murphy, Kelly, Jaidi, Ridgewell; Mutch, Larsson, McSheffrey, Carsley; Phillips, O’Connor. Subs: Doyle, Martin Taylor, Jerome, Nafti, McFadden, Queudrue, Parnaby, M. Bent.
GOAL: Larsson (77).
FULHAM (4-4-2): Schwarzer; Pantsil (Stoor 45), Konchesky, Hughes, Hangeland; Bullard (Andreasen 72), Danny Murphy (Davies 72), Davies (Kallio 84), Gera; Zamora (Johnson 65), Seol Ki-Hyeon (Healy 82).
GOAL: Davies (17).