Birmingham City 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • April 02, 2011 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's hopes of a top-six finish were dented as they fell to a 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City at St Andrews.

Goals in either half from Kevin Phillips and Craig Gardner had the hosts two-up within the hour, before Johan Elmander pulled one back 20 minutes from time with a superb volley from the edge of the area.

Wanderers pressed forward desperately for an equaliser, but couldn't find a way past an inspired Ben Foster in the Blues goal as they fell to their eight defeat in nine away league games.

Alex McLeish's were looking to make amends for their 3-2 defeat at the hands of Wanderers just three weeks ago and they raced out of the blocks, taking the lead inside four minutes.

After Gardner saw a shot deflected behind, Sebastian Larsson's corner fell to the feet of Phillips, who lashed the ball past Jussi Jaaskelainen with a low strike.

The Blues continued with their early pressure and Gardner came close to doubling the lead just two minutes later, sending a half-volley just the wrong side of the far post.

Daniel Sturridge had Bolton's first chance of note on 11 minutes, but he could only fire an effort over the crossbar after he had worked himself into a yard of space.

Lee Bowyer was next to try his luck for the hosts, but after being found unmarked by Larsson at the back post, he could only succeed in sending a volley into the stands, when he had time to control and shoot.

Sturridge was looking like Bolton's only real threat going forward and he forced Foster into a superb low save just after the half hour after running on to a flick from Kevin Davies.

That seemed to be just what the Trotters needed and they were back on the front foot just moments later, only for Davies to volley over at the far post after being found unmarked.

Cameron Jerome had a great chance to double the hosts' advantage on 39 minutes, but with only Jaaskelainen left to beat, he somehow managed to scuff his shot wide with the goal at his mercy.

Despite that glaring miss, it was Wanderers who finished the half the stronger and were twice denied by Foster as the half drew to a close, making two fine stops to deny Sturridge from netting his fifth goal in Bolton colours since joining on loan from Chelsea.

Birmingham thought they had doubled their lead just a minute after the restart, only to be denied by an offside flag. After Jaaskelainen had parried a shot from Phillips, Bowyer headed the ball across goal for Larsson to tap home, only for his celebrations to be cut short by the referee's assistant.

Sturridge again brought Foster into action five minutes after the break, before Wanderers had Jaaskelainen to thank for keeping them in the game after he turned a shot from Roger Johnson behind for a corner.

They didn't have to wait too much longer for a second goal though, as it came just before the hour. Gardner played a smart one-two with Jerome, before shooting past Jaaskelainen and into the net with the aid of a post.

That prompted Trotters boss Owen Coyle into a change, with Lee Chung-Yong coming on for the ineffective Tamir Cohen, who had been having a quiet game at the heart of the Bolton midfield.

The change appeared to give Bolton a little more pace in attack and they pulled one back with 20 minutes to go, albeit via their more renowned route one source.

Davies flicked a header into the path of Elmander and he let the ball bounce before volleying smartly into the corner of the net, leaving Foster routed to the spot.

With a point now in their sights, Coyle brought Matt Taylor and Ivan Klasnic on in place of Martin Petrov and former Blues midfielder Fabrice Muamba.

The changes seemed to have little effect though. That was until the closing stages as Wanderers bombed forward in search of a decisive equalising goal.

First, Klasnic saw a scuffed effort blocked, before Davies forced Foster into conceding a corner with a glancing header from close range.

Foster earned Birmingham the victory from the resulting corner, somehow pushing a bullet header from Gretar Steinsson over the bar, before Gary Cahill headed wide with the final opportunity of the game as time ran out on the visitors.

The defeat leaves Bolton in eight place in the Premier League ahead of next weekend's visit of West Ham United to the Reebok Stadium, the final match before the FA Cup semi-final date with Stoke City on April 17.

Birmingham City: Foster, Carr (Bentley 70), Parnaby, Johnson, Ridgewell, Larsson, Ferguson, Gardner, Bowyer (Fahey 64), Phillips, Jerome (Zigic 76)
Subs Not Used: Doyle, Beausejour, Mutch, Davies
Goals: Phillips 4, Gardner 59

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Wheater, Alonso, Cohen (Chung-Yong 64), Muamba (Taylor 79), Petrov (Klasnic 73), Elmander, K Davies, Sturridge
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Robinson, Rodrigo, Blake
Booked: Wheater, Alonso
Goals: Elmander 70

Referee: Michael Oliver
Attendance: 26,142

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
15 Shrewsbury Town 26 30
16 Cambridge United 25 30
17 Bolton Wanderers 25 29
18 Lincoln City 25 28
19 Fleetwood Town 25 28
View Full Standings >>


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