Birmingham City 0-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • October 18, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/7547e

Neil Lennon was sent to the stands in his first game as Bolton boss, but watched on as Wanderers recorded a 1-0 victory at Birmingham City.

Matt Mills scored the only goal of the game at St Andrew's, heading home from a Jay Spearing corner in the 20th minute, to secure the Trotters' first away league victory of the season - ending a run of five successive defeats in all competitions.

Bolton had the opportunity to double their lead inside the final 10 minutes, as Birmingham goalkeeper Darren Randolph was sent off for a challenge on substitute Craig Davies. The Wanderers forward stepped up to take the resulting penalty, but fired his effort over the crossbar.

Lennon was sent to the stands in the moments between the penalty being awarded and taken, and is likely to face sanctions from the Football League for his conduct.

There were four changes to the Wanderers side that lost to Bournemouth before the international break, as Kevin McNaughton, Dean Moxey, Liam Feeney and Darren Pratley took the places of Chris Herd, Tim Ream, Mark Davies and Craig Davies.

The away side started in a 4-5-1 formation, with Neil Danns joining Spearing in the defensive midfield positions. Pratley began on the left, Feeney on the right, while Lee Chung-Yong was given a central position in behind Jermaine Beckford.

Despite the fresh optimism created by the arrival of a new manager, it was Birmingham who began stronger and they had the first attempt on goal as Koby Arthur saw a shot deflect behind off Dorian Dervite with five minutes on the clock.

Dervite was then involved at the other end, heading inches wide from a Spearing former, before a cross from Feeney was just too far ahead of Beckford with the goal at his mercy.

Mills was shown the first yellow card of the afternoon for a foul on Demari Gray, from which David Cotterill fired the resulting free-kick over the Bolton crossbar, before Gray's shot into the ground bounced up and over Andy Lonergan's crossbar.

Then, with 20 minutes on the clock, the first goal of the Lennon era arrived. If Dervite's early miss didn't provide enough warning, Bolton took advantage of the same move as Spearing's corner was powered past Randolph by a stunning header from Mills.

Danns volleyed wide as Wanderers went in search of an instant second goal, before former Trotters defender, and current Blues captain, Paul Robinson entered the referee's book for a lunge on Danns - himself a former Birmingham player.

Arthur struck the side netting shortly after the half-hour, before Mills was alert to deny Reilly a clear run on goal.

Lonergan made his first testing save of the afternoon to keep out Gray in the closing moments of the half, as he ensured his side went in at the break with their one-goal lead still intact.

There were no changes to either side at the start of the second half, with Callum Reilly's 29th minute introduction in the place of Birmingham's David Davis the the only alteration to the afternoon's starting lineups.

Bolton started the second-half on top, with Danns shooting straight at Randolph with the first attempt after the restart.

Arthur glanced a header from Gray's cross wide of Lonergan's far post, as the hosts looked to get themselves back on level terms, before Gray tried a shot of his own - volleying wide from distance after being placed under pressure by Spearing.

There wasn't much to offer in terms of goalmouth activity as the game approached the final 20 minutes, but the game was brought back to life when Lonergan got down well to keep out Gray once again.

Arthur, Gray and Lee Novak all spurned chances to equalise for the hosts, before Pratley scuffed wide at the other end when he had options better placed inside the box.

Lonergan then produced the safe of the afternoon with 10 minutes to go, as Gray's swerving strike from distance was somehow tipped onto the crossbar by the outstretched glove of the Wanderers goalkeeper.

Davies and Ream were then introduced for Bolton and it took just over two minutes for the former to introduce himself to the Birmingham faithful, as he was brought down inside the box by a challenge that earned goalkeeper Randolph a straight red card.

With all three substitutions already made, Blues substitute Novak had to take Randolph's place in goal for the final moments of the game. Faced with keeping Davies out, the Wanderers forward over-complicated things with a stuttered run-up and fired his penalty-kick over the bar.

Lennon was sent to the stands while those events were taking place on the field, which meant he had to watch the rest of the game from the directors' box.

Spearing warmed the gloves of Novak with a long-range strike with three minutes to go, before Gray was once again denied by Lonergan as the game entered stoppage time.

Although six minutes of time were added for stoppages, Bolton retained possession well in those dying stages and saw the game out to claim their first league victory on the road since April - when they won 3-1 at Sheffield Wednesday.

The win moves Wanderers off the bottom of the Championship table, where they are now two points above Blackpool. They remain three points from safety, ahead of Tuesday's trip to 8th-placed Charlton Athletic.

Birmingham City: Randolph, Caddis, Edgar, Robinson, Grounds, Davis (Reilly 29), Gleeson (Thomas 66), Arthur, Gray, Cotterill (Novak 58), Donaldson
Subs Not Used: Eardley, Hall, Johnstone, Doyle
Booked: Robinson
Sent Off: Randolph

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, McNaughton, Mills, Dervite, Moxey (Ream 79), Feeney, Spearing, Danns, Pratley (C Davies 79), Chung-Yong, Beckford
Subs Not Used: Mason, Hall, Clayton, Kenny, Vela
Booked: Mills
Goals: Mills 20

Referee: Mark Haywood
Attendance: 15,149

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