Birmingham City 1-0 Bolton Wanderers

  • February 23, 2016 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's run without an away win now stands at 20 matches, after they were beaten 1-0 by Birmingham City in a dire game at St Andrew's.

Clayton Donaldson scored the only goal of the game, slotting home from close range just before the half-hour mark, as City moved to within three points of the Championship play-off places, while Wanderers' stay off the bottom on goal difference alone.

Neil Lennon made two changes to the Bolton side that started against Queens Park Rangers, with Paul Rachubka and Derik Osede coming in at the expense of injured duo Ben Amos and Emile Heskey.

Wanderers began the game in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Liam Feeney and Mark Davies occupying the wide midfield positions, Josh Vela in central midfield and Osede at right-back.

The first chance of the game fell the way of the visitors, but Zach Clough was denied a certain goal by some last-ditch defending from Paul Robinson, as he got on the end of a low ball into the box from Osede.

After a quiet opening 20 minutes, Birmingham almost capitalised on a mistake from Rachubka. The stand-in Wanderers goalkeeper dropped a free-kick from Stephen Gleeson, but Robinson failed to put the ball in the net as his attempt was deflected behind.

A short break in play allowed Clough to receive treatment for a clash of heads, after which the Blues took the lead. After clearing a Wanderers free-kick, Donaldson raced up to the other end of the field and got on the end of a square ball from Diego Fabbrini, before slotting past Rachubka from close range.

Bolton almost equalised instantly, but Rob Holding failed to keep his header down after being picked out by a Feeney corner, before injury to Dorian Dervite forced a tactical shuffle. Neil Danns came on to replace the stricken defender and take up a place in midfield, with Vela moving to right-back and Osede joining Holding in a central role.

A goalmouth scramble ensued five minutes before the break, with the visitors desperately looking to pull level, but Birmingham were awarded a free-kick after successfully managing to keep out attempts from both Holding and Darren Pratley.

Clough was denied a clear run on goal by an outstanding challenge from Robinson in the moments that followed, while Danns fired over the top from distance after working his way into a yard of space.

A teasing cross from Feeney was crying out for a Wanderers player to make contact inside three added minutes for stoppages, but nobody could make the required connection as they went in trailing at the break by a goal to nil.

There were no changes to either side at the start of the second period, which began with the away side on the attack and they came close to equalising inside the opening minute, only for referee Scott Duncan to award a free-kick against Clough when he looked set to head home.

Appeals for a penalty were then turned down, as Pratley went to ground under a challenge from Robinson inside the Blues box, shortly before superb defending from Osede prevented Jacques Maghoma from breaking clear at the other end.

An outstanding individual run from Feeney caused panic in the Birmingham defence as the game approached the hour, drawing a foul from Fabbrini that resulted in a yellow card, but the resulting free-kick came to nothing as Wanderers once again failed to make the most of a rare opening in front of goal.

Donaldson shot straight at Rachubka as the clocked ticked past the hour, before Pratley joined Fabbrini in the referee's book for hauling down David Cotterill on the right-flank.

Cotterill was soon involved in the final third, with his volley bringing a smart stop out of Rachubka, moments before penalty appeals were rejected when Jonathan Grounds went down under a challenge from Vela.

Rachubka was at his best again with 10 minutes to go, this time keeping out a curling strike from Jon Toral, before a host of substitutions broke the flow of the game, as the referee's watch ticked down.

Donaldson shot wide from close range with only Rachubka left to beat, but Bolton's inability to threaten in the final third ensured Birmingham cruised to victory that leaves Lennon's side seven points from safety with just 13 games left to play.

Wanderers return to action on Saturday, when second-placed Burnley are the visitors to Macron Stadium in what is anticipated to be a hotly-contested Lancashire derby.

Birmingham City: Kuszczak, Shotton, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds, Gleeson, Kieftenbeld, Buckley (Cotterill 64), Fabbrini (Toral 64), Maghoma, Donaldson
Subs Not Used: Legzdins, Vaughan, Spector, Davis, Caddis
Booked: Fabbrini, Donaldson
Goals: Donaldson 29

Bolton Wanderers: Rachubka, Osede, Dervite (Danns 34), Holding, Moxey, Spearing (Silva 84), Feeney, Vela (Dobbie 84), Pratley, Davies, Clough
Subs Not Used: Campbell, Wilson, Woolery, Walker
Booked: Moxey, Davies

Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 15,992

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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