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Match Report


Posted Sun 09 May 10 at 19:56 PM

Report: Bolton 2 Birmingham 1

Wanderers secured a final position of 14th in the Barclays Premier League for the 2009/10 season with a professional 2-1 victory over Birmingham City on the last day of the season.

Kevin Davies put Wanderers ahead on 36 minutes with a typical headed goal - a strike which ultimately earned him the club's top goalscorer award for the second successive year.

Ivan Klasnic made it two goals in three appearances when he calmly side-footed Wanderers into a two goal lead a quarter of an hour into the second-half.

Birmingham set up a nervy finish when McFadden slammed home from close-range seconds after Jaaskelainen had denied Christian Benitez from the penalty spot.

But the day belonged to Bolton as they marked the end of what was an eventful season at the club with a post-match lap of thanks with the supporters.

It was Birmingham and Lee Bowyer who had the first opportunity to break the deadlock with just two minutes on the clock.

The away team, roared forward by 4,000 travelling fans, broke away down the right through Cameron Jerome and when the striker's cutback avoided several Wanderers defenders, Bowyer dragged his effort well wide.

Indeed, it was a lively start as on-loan Spaniard Michel fired at Jussi Jaaskelainen from the edge of the area and Fabrice Muamba had a penalty shout turned down by referee Kevin Friend all inside the first five minutes.

A an injury to Jerome held up proceedings for a short while but once play resumed Bolton - sporting their new home shirt for next season - managed to gain a foothold on the contest and were unlucky not to gain an advantage on two separate occasions.

Firstly, Wilshere evaded a couple of challenges inside the area before displaying excellent composure to square across goal to the unmarked Matt Taylor. The left-sided man perhaps had too much time on his hands as Hart rushed from his line to make a goal-saving block.

Then just moments later, Zat Knight curled a first-time effort against the woodwork with Hart this time beaten. It would have been a moment to savour for the big defender, who not only supported but played for the Blues city rivals Aston Villa.

But Owen Coyle's men had to constantly be aware of Birmingham's threat, particularly Jerome as twice in quick succession the former Cardiff City man troubled Bolton's rearguard with side-footed and headed efforts that were just off target.

Bowyer headed wide from a corner and Ivan Klasnic forced Hart to make a routine stop before Wanderers deservedly took the lead through Kevin Davies with 33 minutes played.

The visitors committed a series of petty fouls outside the area, and when Paul Robinson delivered a pinpoint free-kick from one of those dead ball situations, the captain was perfectly placed to head past the helpless Hart from five yards out.

Birmingham thought they had scored an equaliser just five minutes after the had fallen behind when James McFadden bundled the ball over the line from close-range.

The former Everton man wheeled away in celebration, but the joy was short lived when his strike was correctly chalked off for handball. The men in blue shirts were incensed and McFadden, Sebastian Larsson and Roger Johnson were all cautioned in the aftermath for dissent.

After calling one decision correctly, the referee failed to spot a blatant handball by Liam Ridgewell inside the Birmingham penalty area in first-half stoppage time. Wanderers had broken quickly through Muamba and Klasnic and when Wilshere tried to bend the ball into the top corner of the goal, Ridgewell's arm intervened and appeals for a spot-kick fell on deaf ears.

Jaaskelainen started the second-half by making two successive saves to deny central defender Roger Johnson as City came out looking to get back on level terms. Matt Taylor too had a decent opening to extend Bolton's lead but he flashed high and wide from 20 yards out, while Klasnic hit a fierce daisy-cutter from distance which was well held by Hart.

But there was nothing Hart could do to prevent Klasnic from notching his eighth goal of the season on the hour mark.

Again, like with the Croatian's strike on his previous appearance at the Reebok against Portsmouth, it was an instinctive piece of first-time finishing as he calmly side-footed past the England hopeful from 12 yards out following good work by Vladimir Weiss.

With his team two goals to the good, Owen Coyle took the opportunity to re-introduce Stuart Holden in the fray following his two-month absence with a broken leg. Chung-Yong Lee was also brought on with 65 minutes played as Vladimir Weiss and Matt Taylor left the field to standing ovations.

It didn't take long for Holden to once again acclimatise to the pace of the Premier League as just moments after coming on to the pitch, he let rip with a 25-yard thunderbolt that was only just wide of the target.

Jerome headed wide before Birmingham halved the deficit with 14 minutes left.

When Paul Robinson was judged to have fouled Benitez inside the box, the Ecuadorian striker picked himself up off the floor only to see Jaaskelainen save his weak effort from the spot.

However Jussi was exceptionally unlucky as after making another instinctive block to thwart Bowyer, McFadden managed to finally convert from point-blank range at the third time of asking.

There was a late rally from Birmingham after play was held up a few moments when a male fan dressed as female lifeguard invaded the pitch, but thankfully Wanderers held on to sign off the 2009/2010 campaign in style with a chorus of "Owen, Owen Coyle" chants echoing around the Reebok at the final whistle.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Robinson, Cahill, Muamba, Taylor (Holden 65), Knight, Kevin Davies, Steinsson, Klasnic, Wilshere (Gardner 90), Weiss (Chung-Yong) (Subs: Samuel, Mark Davies, Ricketts, Al Habsi)

Birmingham: Hart, Carr, Bowyer, Ridgewell, Larsson, Jerome, Ferguson, Johnson, McFadden, Vignal, Michel (Subs: Taylor, Murphy, Benitez, Fahey, Parnaby, Carsley, Mutch)

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