Blackburn 2-2 Birmingham: James scores late leveller to earn Blues a replay
Jordan James struck in stoppage time as Birmingham snatched a dramatic 2-2 draw at Blackburn in the FA Cup fourth round.
Rovers looked to be heading through to the fifth round for the first time since 2017 after recovering from conceding Reda Khadra’s early opener thanks to Bradley Dack’s close-range finish and a precise Joe Rankin-Costello strike.
But 18-year-old James, who had been on the pitch for barely two minutes, scored his first of the campaign by coolly converting a cutback to send the almost 4,000-strong visiting support wild and earn Blues a replay next week.
Birmingham went in front in the third minute when former Rovers loanee Khadra profited from a loose pass, finding the net from 25-yards, though Thomas Kaminski could only help it on its way when he should have done better.
Neil Etheridge made a smart low save at his near post to deny Ben Brereton Diaz but Khadra almost embarrassed Kaminski again soon after when his ferocious shot squirmed through the goalkeeper’s legs but this time drifted wide.
Brereton Diaz curled goalwards from the left in the 20th minute but Etheridge parried to safety.
Rovers equalised in the 33rd minute after a spell of pressure saw Rankin-Costello’s thunderous effort brilliantly tipped on to the upright by Etheridge but Dack reacted quickest to tap in his sixth of the season.
Birmingham responded well to the setback, with George Friend heading a corner wide before Lukas Jutkiewicz’s stooping header just before the break was superbly tipped behind by Kaminski.
The visitors were made to pay for their missed chances within a minute of the second half starting when they made a mess of clearing their lines and the ball fell to Rankin-Costello, whose unerring strike from just outside the box nestled into the bottom right corner.
The game became an end-to-end affair as Blues pushed for the leveller and left space at the back. Jutkiewicz headed over from 12 yards before Kaminski blocked Khadra’s shot from a tight angle with his legs.
Rovers should have put the game beyond Birmingham midway through the half when they countered and Tyrhys Dolan put Brereton Diaz clean through but he lifted the ball wide of the post.
They had another chance to make sure of their passage into the next round but Dack mis-hit a Lewis Travis cutback from 12 yards.
Those two misses came back to haunt Rovers as James equalised in the first minute of stoppage time when Hannibal Mejbri found him with an intelligent pass and he slotted in from 12 yards, beating Kaminski at his near post who again should have done better.