Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Birmingham City

  • December 29, 2012 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/08a9e

Bolton ended a miserable 2012 with a victory, after claiming a 3-1 success over Birmingham City at the Reebok Stadium.

Nikola Zigic headed the Blues ahead with 11 minutes gone, but Wanderers turned the game around in the space of six minutes courtesy of goals from Marcos Alonso and Lee Chung-Yong - giving the hosts a 2-1 advantage at the break.

Keith Andrews added a third from the penalty spot 11 minutes from time, before Zigic was sent off for two bookable offences in the closing stages as Wanderers claimed a fully deserved three points.

Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman made four changes to the side that lost to Sheffield Wednesday on Boxing Day, with Alonso, Chung-Yong, Darren Pratley and Kevin Davies taking the places of Sam Ricketts, Martin Petrov, Benik Afobe and David Ngog.

The hosts lined up with Davies in the lone forward role, with Pratley providing the support from midfield and Lee Chung-Yong and Chris Eagles occupying the wide positions.

Birmingham enjoyed a good spell of early possession, but it was Bolton who created the first chance of the game. Eagles cut in from the right flank and shot goalwards, but Blues goalkeeper Jack Butland made a comfortable stop.

Wanderers came even closer on 11 minutes, but a 30-yard volley from Jay Spearing looped narrowly wide of the target.

Within 60 seconds, the deadlock had been broken. Unfortunately for the hosts, it was Birmingham who grabbed the goal.

Chris Burke found space in behind Alonso down the Birmingham right and he crossed for Zigic to nod beyond Adam Bogdan and give the visitors the lead at the Reebok.

The goal came as a blow to Bolton, who had to wait until the 22nd minute before their next opportunity arrived. Neat play inside the box allowed Davies to back-heel the ball to Eagles, who fired a shot across the face of goal and behind for a goal-kick.

Wanderers were level five minutes later, though, as a cross from Tyrone Mears picked out Alonso. The former Real Madrid defender managed to get the better of Curtis Davies and powered a header into the back of the Birmingham net.

Spearing came close to putting Wanderers in front just after the half hour with a shot from distance, but Freedman's side didn't have to wait much longer for their pressure to pay off.

With 33 minutes gone, Chung-Yong picked up possession midway inside the Birmingham half, He raced towards the Blues box, skipped past challenges from Paul Robinson and Davies, before rounding Butland and guiding the ball into the empty net. A fabulous piece of individual brilliance from the South Korea international.

Bolton were playing with confidence at this stage and came close to a third five minutes before the break. Davies cut inside from the left and sent a curling shot towards the bottom corner, but Butland did well to deny the Trotters captain by turning the ball behind for a corner.

The hosts took their 2-1 lead into the break and, despite no changes at the interval, the second period started on somewhat of a quiet note.

The first real chance of the second half arrived on 65 minutes, but neat play involving Wade Elliott and Burke resulted in the latter overhitting a cross, with Zigic unmarked inside the Bolton box.

That seemed to spark Birmingham back into life and Bogdan was required to keep out a tame effort from Burke moments later, with Zigic once again involved in the move.

Robert Hall was next to bring a save out of Bogdan, which prompted Blues boss Lee Clark into bringing Nathan Redmond on for Burke as the visitors went in search of an equalising goal.

That equaliser failed to arrive, however, and Bolton would seal the points with little over 10 minutes to play. Steven Caldwell was adjudged to have handled inside the box, which allowed Andrews to step up and beat Butland from the penalty spot.

Alonso came close to scoring his second - and Bolton's fourth, five minutes from time, but his header from a corner flew inches wide of the target.

The Spaniard came close yet again with a free-kick in stoppage time, which came shortly after Zigic had been sent off for two bookable offences within the space of a minute.

Alonso's late free-kick would turn out to be the final act of the game, as Wanderers ended the year with a 3-1 victory. Freedman's side will kick-off 2013 on New Year's Day, when they face Leeds United at Elland Road.

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears, Knight, Ream, Alonso, Andrews, Spearing (Butterfield 89), Chung-Yong, Pratley, Eagles (Afobe 90), K Davies
Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Ricketts, Petrov, Sordell, Riley
Booked: Chung-Yong
Goals: Alonso 27, Chung-Yong 33, Andrews 79(pen)

Birmingham City: Butland, Hancox, Caldwell, Davies, Robinson, Reilly (Jervis 79), Mullins, Spector (Elliott 59), Hall, Zigic, Burke (Redmond 72)
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Ibanez, Gordon, Delfouneso
Booked: Caldwell, Zigic, Mullins
Sent Off: Zigic
Goals: Zigic 11

Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 17,068

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Pos Team Pld Pts
12 Middlesbrough 42 58
13 Watford 41 57
14 Bolton Wanderers 42 54
15 Sheffield Wednesday 42 50
16 Leeds United 42 50
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