Birmingham teenager Jordan James scores first senior goal in Stoke draw
Birmingham teenager Jordan James scored his first senior goal as the Blues earned a 2-2 draw away to Stoke.
The 17-year-old struck after just 12 minutes to put the visitors ahead but Stoke hit back to lead through two goals from Tyrese Campbell either side of half-time.
Gary Gardner quickly drew Birmingham level again and defences came out on top after that as the spoils were shared.
The Blues, without a league win on their travels since October, nearly opened the scoring inside two minutes after a frenetic start to the fixture.
An in-form Lyle Taylor, who had scored three goals in four games since his loan move from Nottingham Forest, saw a powerful effort from an acute angle strike the foot of the post.
The hosts also had an early opportunity to secure a dream start when Campbell’s cutback found the onrushing Sam Clucas in acres of space, only for the midfielder to balloon his shot wildly over the target.
Stoke goalkeeper Joe Bursik was nearly caught off-guard by a venomous Taylor strike from range, but the England Under-21 international was equal to it.
Buoyed on by a 2,067-strong travelling support, Birmingham then secured an opening goal that their lively start deserved with only 12 minutes on the clock.
After Ben Wilmot’s slack pass was intercepted, Onel Hernandez raced to the by-line before teeing up youngster James, who was in the right place at the right time to convert.
However, as the Potters gradually grew into the match, the visitors’ advantage looked less secure by the passing minute and their resistance was broken midway through the half in bizarre circumstances.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis’ hopeful lofted through-ball found Campbell after he sprung the offside trap, with the forward’s miscontrolled first touch wrong-footing Neil Etheridge before the ball rolled into the back of the net.
Stoke rallied in their efforts to complete a rapid-fire comeback when Lewis Baker tried a speculative lob from the halfway line, but Etheridge’s blushes were saved.
Home boss Michael O’Neill may have felt aggrieved that his side were not ahead by the interval, with heroic defending by Birmingham’s Jeremie Bela thwarting Jacob Brown from converting from point-blank range.
Moments before the half-time whistle, Josh Tymon had a spectacular effort from long range cannon off the frame of the goal with a helpless Etheridge left merely a bystander.
Fortunately for the hosts, their dominance was rewarded shortly after the restart when Campbell curled a precise effort into the far corner – his fourth goal of the season.
However, this high-energy clash took another unexpected twist before the hour mark when Harwood-Bellis skewed Taylor’s cross straight into the path of Gardner, who rifled past Bursik from close range.
Looking to re-establish their lead, Stoke doggedly pursued a winner with Brown twice meeting Baker’s set-piece deliveries, but both headers dropped narrowly wide as their search for a winner proved fruitless.
The result means the Potters have now drawn three of their last four outings as they struggle to reignite their play-off push.
Meanwhile, a four-month run without an away victory in the Championship continues for Lee Bowyer’s Blues.
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