Burnley 2, Birmingham City 2

Substitute Matt Taylor salvaged a point for the Clarets after defender Michael Keane netted his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw against Birmingham City.

Saturday, 15th August 2015, 2:25 pm
Matt Taylor scores the equaliser direct from a free-kick

Taylor equalised with a delightful free kick in the 81st minute after the Blues led twice through Jon Toral and a controversial Paul Caddis penalty at Turf Moor.

Kevin Friend was at the heart of the controversy in the opening day stalemate against Leeds United at Elland Road - rejecting two penalty appeals involving striker Lukas Jutkiewicz.

This time it was the turn of referee David Coote to deny the 26-year-old striker a spot kick after he was desperately wrestled to the deck by Jonathan Spector from Ben Mee’s delivery.

Matt Taylor scores the equaliser direct from a free-kick

Turf Moor was stunned in to a bemused silence in the 10th minute, just seconds after goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak had produced an animated save for the Sky cameras from Michael Kightly’s set-piece.

City needed just three touches from that point to take the lead. The former United stopper cleared upfield, striker Clayton Donaldson rose above Michael Keane to flick on and Toral struck first time left-footed to beat Tom Heaton from the edge of the box.

The Clarets responded but were denied by a double save from Kuszczak. The keeper, signed from rivals Wolves in the summer, plunged to his left to deny George Boyd’s stinging drive before jumping to his feet to gather Jutkiewicz’s follow up.

Highly-touted prospect Demarai Gray side-footed wide once David Cotterill’s corner had broken kindly for the winger inside the box as the visitors looked to extend their advantage.

Comparisons are already being made between the departed Kieran Trippier and new boy Tendayi Darikwa - and it’s no surprise.

With Spurs now the beneficiaries of Trippier’s crossing ability and forward forays, the former Spireite looks determined to be the man to step up to the mantel.

The 23-year-old full back’s sumptuous assist with a flick of the outside of his boot forced Kuszczak to come off his line and punch clear under threat from Jutkiewicz.

Play switched again and this time it was Cotterill that went close. The winger, that featured for Sheffield United in the play-off final at Wembley in 2009, shaped a left-footed effort against the upright with Heaton well beaten.

Jutkiewicz tested Kuszczak on the turn after Darikwa’s cross was cushioned in to the striker’s path by Kightly before Stephen Gleeson tried his luck with an exquisite attempt just before the interval.

The one-time MK Dons midfielder connected with the ball beautifully after Michael Duff cleared Cotterill’s corner and Heaton was forced to turn his 35-yard effort over the bar.

Gleeson was the first to test the water after the break, flashing a volley across Heaton from the angle of the box that snuck wide of the far post.

But then came the equaliser, just seven minutes in to the second half. After being shoved to the turf by Caddis, Kightly whipped in the resulting free-kick, Jelle Vossen flicked on and Keane guided the ball in to the net at the back post.

Donaldson attempted to restore the advantage for Gary Rowett’s side when foiled by Heaton after slipping goal side of Duff, but from that moment there only seemed one likely winner.

Scott Arfield’s strike rose just above the angle and Keane headed over from David Jones’s corner after towering above Morrison.

However, the home side’s efforts were to be dented by a ludicrous decision by Coote. The Blues broke from Kightly’s blocked cross, Maikel Kieftenbeld slipped the ball in to Donaldson and the striker’s ‘simulation’ after being brushed by Darikwa earned himself a penalty.

Caddis stepped up from 12 yards and smashed the resulting spot kick down the middle to make it 2-1 in the 63rd minute.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche introduced Sam Vokes at the expense of Vossen and, after Kuszczak had saved Jutkiewicz’s header, removed Kightly to introduce Taylor.

And within minutes that decision paid dividends. Taylor, who netted a thunderous free-kick in Duff’s testimonial match against Bradford City, levelled proceedings from a similar position with an outstanding strike.

After Boyd was fouled, and play was brought back by Coote, the former Hammer bent a wonderful effort around the ball and found the net via the underside of the bar with Kuszczak rooted to the spot.

The hosts pressed for the winner and Duff, among others, went within inches of securing maximum points.

The Clarets travel to Portman Road on Tuesday (kick off 7-45 p.m.) as they take on Ipswich Town in the Championship.