Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Birmingham City

  • May 03, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/9bbf4

Birmingham City escaped relegation to League One, by scoring a stoppage time equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Bolton at the Reebok Stadium.

After a goalless first half, Wanderers took the lead just before the hour as Lee Chung-Yong fired home from close range. Lukas Jutkiewicz doubled the advantage 14 minutes from time, with a strike that beat Blues' goalkeeper Darren Randolph at his near post, but the visitors roared back in the latter stages to earn the point which keeps them in the division.

Nikola Zigic headed home two minutes after Jutkiewicz's goal and the 3,793 travelling supporters went bonkers in the third minute of stoppage time, as Paul Caddis headed home from close range to ensure they retain their Championship status and Doncaster Rovers join Barnsley and Yeovil Town in League One next season.

Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman made one change to the side that won at Sheffield Wednesday last weekend, with Andy Lonergan taking over from the injured Adam Bogdan in goal for perhaps the final time.

As well as Lonergan, the game provided the likes of Liam Trotter, Zat Knight, Andy Robinson, Arran Lee-Barrett and Jutkiewicz with an opportunity to feature one last time before their contracts or loans expire.

Birmingham started the game on the front foot, with Matt Mills making a superb sliding challenge to deny Lee Novak a goal inside the opening five minutes.

Mills was on hand to block another shot moments later, this time from Zigic, before Tim Ream reacted well to clear a shot from Callum Reilly to safety.

Former Blues loanee Robert Hall curled a free-kick over the crossbar, after Jermaine Beckford had been tripped on the edge of the box, before Birmingham were inches away from taking the lead as a cross-cum-shot from Caddis flashed agonisingly across the face of goal.

Chung-Yong fired over the Birmingham crossbar on 15 minutes, before a looping cross from Oscar Threlkeld, on his home debut, just cleared the bar two minutes later.

Lonergan did well to save a deflected shot from Chris Burke soon after, before Hall came close with two separate free-kicks that Darren Randolph always had covered in the Birmingham goal.

Novak thought he had given the visitors the lead in the 32nd minute, cutting inside Threlkeld and Mills on the right-hand side of the box, before seeing his curling effort tipped around the post by the fingertips of Lonergan.

Bolton failed to deal with the resulting corner and were thankful to Lonergan again, who once again tipped a Novak strike around the post.

Birmingham had the ball in the net on 37 minutes, but the referee disallowed the goal as Zigic was jumping all over the back of David Wheater as a free-kick was delivered into the Wanderers box.

Hayden Mullins stretched just enough to clear a cross from Hall over the top of his own crossbar with five minutes of the half remaining, before a late attempt from Burke rolled across the Bolton six-yard box as the first-half ended goalless.

There were no changes to the home side at the start of the second half, although Blues boss Lee Clark did make one alteration to his team - with Mitch Hancox coming on for Emyr Huws.

Just as they did in the opening 45 minutes, Birmingham started the second half brightly and would have taken the lead two minutes after the restart but for a superb challenge by Mills on Caddis, who had looked set to tap Zigic's knockdown into the net.

With survival on the line for the visitors, Bolton did them no favours by taking the lead just before the hour. Birmingham failed to deal with a free-kick into their box and the ball fell kindly to Chung-Yong, who thumped a half-volley past Randolph.

That goal prompted changes from both managers, with Jutkiewicz replacing Hall for Wanderers, while Jordon Ibe and Federico Macheda came on for Burke and Reilly on the other side.

The introduction of Ibe almost paid instant dividends, as he cut the ball back to Novak who controlled well before shooting wide of the right-hand post.

A free-kick from Ibe was turned away by Lonergan with 20 minutes to go and he shot wide again moments later, before relegation looked like a certainty as Bolton doubled their lead through Jutkiewicz.

The on-loan Middlesbrough forward managed to win a yard of space inside the Blues penalty area and his low shot beat Randolph at his near post, scoring his seventh goal of his spell with the Trotters.

Birmingham were back in the game two minutes later though, as Zigic rose highest at the far post to head the ball back across Lonergan and into the back of the Wanderers net.

That brought the visiting fans back to life and with Doncaster losing at Leicester City, they knew that an equalising goal would see them retain their Championship status.

A long-range strike from Tom Adeyemi flew straight into the arms of Lonergan inside the final 10 minutes, but it was Bolton who spurned the chance to kill the game as Jutkiewicz shot straight at Randolph and Neil Danns fired over the crossbar in two separate counter attacks that saw Birmingham struggling with two against three.

Six minutes of stoppage time were added and, with nothing left to lose, Birmingham pushed forward in search of that decisive goal and it arrived in the third added minute as Caddis reacted quickest to a Lonergan parry to head home from close range and spark unbelievable scenes in the away end, as well as an invasion of away team staff onto the pitch.

With more than seven added minutes played, the referee called time on events and the City management team flooded the pitch in celebration, while Bolton were left to look back at how they conceded a two-goal lead with 12 minutes to go.

Wanderers end the season in 14th place, their lowest Football League ranking since 1993/94. They won promotion via the play-offs the following season, beating Reading in the final at Wembley Stadium.

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, Threlkeld, Mills, Wheater, Ream, Trotter, Spearing, Chung-Yong (Knight 81), Danns, Hall (Jutkiewicz 61), Beckford (Kellett 86)
Subs Not Used: Robinson, Lee-Barrett, Youngs, Iliev
Booked: Wheater, Mills
Goals: Chung-Yong 57, Jutkiewicz 76

Birmingham City: Randolph, Spector, Mullins, Robinson, Reilly (Macheda 60), Adeyemi, Huws (Hancox 46), Burke (Ibe 60), Caddis, Novak, Zigic
Subs Not Used: Martin, Lovenkrands, Doyle, Shinnie
Booked: Robinson, Caddis, Zigic
Goals: Zigic 78, Caddis 90+3

Referee: Iain Williamson
Attendance: 19,558

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22 Southend United 35 19
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