Southampton 0 - Birmingham City 0

Last updated : 24 October 2004 By Footymad Previewer

Wigley's side, who were relegated to the bottom spot after Crystal Palace's win over West Brom on Saturday, huffed and puffed their way to a point to move above Norwich and Blackburn on goal difference.

But Southampton and their coach still have plenty of problems to solve if they are to avoid slipping out of the top division this season as they have not scored now in more than six and a half hours of Premiership football.

Wigley is still waiting for his first taste of Premiership success since replacing Paul Sturrock in charge two months ago and has taken just three points from a possible 24 since assuming managerial control.

But his side will not get too many better opportunities to win this season and had enough clear cut chances against a below-par Birmingham side who have themselves scored just seven times in the league this season.

The Saints head coach was once again forced to name teenage striker Dexter Blackstock in his starting line up with experienced stars James Beattie, Kevin Phillips and Peter Crouch all still sidelined by injury but the 18-year-old rose to the challenge magnificently on his full home debut.

Blackstock was a constant threat to Birmingham's central defensive duo of Kenny Cunningham and Matthew Upson and was unlucky not to open the scoring in only the tenth minute. The lively striker was first to react to a long throw from the right from Rory Delap and sent his header goalwards only to see his effort crash against the top of the crossbar before deflecting into the stands.

Southampton's extra energy and purpose surprised Birmingham in the opening 45 minutes and Swede Mikael Nilsson should have given the home side a deserved advantage at half-time but for wasting a golden opportunity just two minutes before the break.

Fabrice Fernandes, playing in an unfamiliar position behind Blackstock, played a precision pass for Nilsson to race through on goal and round keeper Maik Taylor but he lacked the necessary composure and hit his shot into the side netting.

Delap managed Southampton's first effort on target four minutes after the restart but Birmingham gradually forced their way into the encounter as Southampton tired, and Blues boss Steve Bruce was left rueing a lack of a clinical finisher at the final whistle, after watching his side miss a series of clear-cut opportunities.

David Dunn forced a good save from Southampton goalkeeper Antti Niemi on 48 minutes after finding space in the penalty area just ten yards out, while defender Mario Melchiot also went close with a 25-yard drive.

Dunn should have done better in the 66th minute when he blasted a shot over when unmarked just 12 yards out, after unselfish play from Emile Heskey on the right.

But Darren Anderton, making his full league debut in a Birmingham shirt, thought he had done enough to break the deadlock when finding himself well placed on 76 minutes.

The former England star did everything right as he fired a left footed shot which looked destined for the right hand corner of the net, but Niemi somehow flung himself at full length to brilliantly save as Birmingham were forced to settle for their fifth successive draw.