Birmingham City 2-2 Ipswich Town: Late Marcus Harness goals deny Wayne Rooney first Blues win

Wayne Rooney's first point as Birmingham City boss came after losing his first three games
Wayne Rooney's first point as Birmingham City boss came after losing his first three games

New Birmingham City manager Wayne Rooney had his first win stolen from his grasp by high-riding Ipswich Town at St Andrew's.

After the home side led 2-0 with only 11 minutes left, Ipswich substitute Marcus Harness pulled one back.

Harness then scored again on 89 minutes to level the score - and though that was enough to earn Rooney his first point from his fourth game in charge, it still felt like a defeat.

Birmingham led on 13 minutes after Jay Stansfield's fifth goal of the season - and that was doubled six minutes after the break when Cameron Burgess put through his own net under pressure from Stansfield.

But Ipswich got one back on 79 minutes when Freddie Ladapo's effort was saved by goalkeeper John Ruddy but the rebound fell to fellow substitute Harness.

Harness then got his second to stretch second-placed Ipswich's unbeaten run to 10 league games - and take them a point closer to leaders Leicester City.

Despite their three-game losing run since previous boss John Eustace was sacked, Birmingham had the protective cushion of a great record against Ipswich, who have won only once in their past 19 visits to St Andrew's.

Rooney had opted to make another four changes following last weekend's 3-1 defeat at Southampton - and the hosts went 1-0 up when Juninho Bacuna's through ball let in Stansfield, who swivelled inside the box and Ipswich keeper Vaclav Hladky failed to prevent the recalled striker scoring.

Jay Stansfield scores his second goal for Birmingham City in successive games
Jay Stansfield scored his second goal for Birmingham City in successive games

When Burgess deflected Bacuna's cross past his own keeper six minutes into the second half, there looked only one winner.

But Kieran McKenna's side dug deep, especially after making a triple substitution on 72 minutes.

Within seven minutes, two of those substitutes - Ladapo and Harness - had combined to pull a goal back.

Omari Hutchinson then found Harness, who acrobatically fired home a left-footed equaliser.

Who's next?

Rooney now has one more chance to claim his first win as Blues boss before the international break - at Tony Mowbray's Sunderland next Saturday lunchtime (12:30 GMT).

Ipswich can move one point behind Leicester if they win their rearranged game at Rotherham United this Tuesday night (20:00), before hosting Swansea City on Saturday afternoon (15:00).

Birmingham City manager Wayne Rooney told BBC Radio WM:

"I'm seeing improvement every week. There were good signs against Southampton last week too - and we've now improved on that against a good, tough Ipswich Town side.

"We got the team organised, on the front foot, and for 45 minutes we were excellent. That dropped a bit second half and we conceded two goals, which was obviously disappointing.

"The subs have to do better when they come on. But I'm pleased with the overall performance levels. It's different to what the players had been used to - and we knew it was never going to happen overnight."

Ipswich Town boss Kieran McKenna told BBC Radio Suffolk:

"It was a second half to be very proud of. Lots of teams would have been done, but we weren't. And we got the rewards.

"We had the mentality to keep going - and then we had the impact of the subs. We're very happy for Marcus Harness. He showed glimpses of what he can do.

"We're going to need resilience in bucket loads and we had it. 2-0 down away from home, a new manager early in his tenure, and there was a massive energy in the stadium. But we got through it - and it's something we can build from."