Ferguson vents frustration at ref

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hit out at referee Lee Mason for failing to rule out a controversial late equaliser from Birmingham midfielder Lee Bowyer in a 1-1 draw at St. Andrew's.

Ferguson was fuming after feeling that Blues substitute Nikola Zigic had handled the ball and committed a foul when challenging for a Roger Johnson cross which Bowyer eventually converted.

The share of the spoils means United will head into the new year top of the Barclays Premier League, but that was no consolation for Ferguson.

He said: "There was a foul to begin with and then he (Zigic) has handled the ball. If you don't get a decision like that in that situation, what chance have you got.

"It is a great shame because the way we played in the second half we deserved the three points.

"The first half was a non event but we played ever so well in the second period. Having got in front, we should have finished them off. We just needed a bit more care but their goal should not have stood."

Blues boss Alex McLeish admitted his side "got a bit of luck" with Bowyer's goal but was full of praise for their performance.

The draw lifted them out of the bottom three and means they have only lost once at home in the last 16 months.

McLeish said: "I feel that we got our reward for perseverance, good concentration, tactical awareness. The players adhered to everything we asked them to do.

"We are not at a safe distance away from the bottom of the table at present but these sort of points could be crucial, bonus points really."