Report: Bolton 0-1 Birmingham City
Wanderers ended the 2014/15 campaign with a 1-0 defeat at home to Birmingham City on Saturday afternoon.
Following a first period of few chances, it was the visitors who drew first blood with three minutes of the half remaining as Robert Tesche rifled home on the rebound from close range.
In the second half, Bolton did rally in a bid to force an equalising goal with Eidur Gudjohnsen seeing an effort chalked off for offside early on, but their efforts were to prove fruitless as the Blues held out for the victory.
Quade Taylor came into the starting XI for Wanderers for his first senior appearance, while Oscar Threlkeld was also in from the off having featured as a substitute against Bournemouth on Monday.
Eidur Gudjohnsen was the captain for the Whites against the Blues, with Mark Davies making his second consecutive start for the Trotters.
Wanderers started brightly, with Eidur Gudjohnsen slamming a free-kick down the throat of Darren Randolph inside the opening stages while Emile Heskey saw his drilled effort fly just over the crossbar early on.
The Bolton pressure continued, with Adam Le Fondre collecting Barry Bannan’s clever through ball before firing his shot just wide of the mark from just outside the area.
The visitors however then proceeded to enjoy a period of pressure of their own, with Clayton Donaldson and Demarai Gray proving themselves to be notable presences in the Bolton box.
Le Fondre and Bannan linked up well once again with 15 minutes gone as the former collected the midfielder’s pass before attempting to provide a dangerous cross-goal pass, only for his effort to fly narrowly wide of Randolph’s far post.
The game was quickly moving into an end-to-end encounter, with Tim Ream almost marking his Player of the Year accolade with the opener as he saw his diving header somehow elude the goalmouth.
Halfway through the first period, Mark Davies came within inches of drawing first blood as he powered through midfield before unleashing an effort on goal, but his shot failed to trouble Randolph in the Birmingham goal.
Gray was next to enjoy a notable opportunity for the visitors, with his out swinging free-kick causing chaos in the six yard box before Wanderers were able to clear their lines.
Heskey however came closest inside the first third of the game, with his header from Le Fondre’s cross missing the mark by a whisker with Macron Stadium already on its collective feet.
Birmingham did enjoy chances as the half drew to its conclusion with Gray and Donaldson testing Adam Bogdan from close range while the latter couldn’t gain the contact needed whilst unmarked from six yards.
Having really failed to trouble Wanderers however, Gary Rowett’s side broke the deadlock as, on the rebound, Robert Tesche slammed home from a matter of yards out with three minutes of the half to go.
An equaliser was almost immediate as Le Fondre attempted to chip Randolph, but the keeper was equal to his effort to maintain his side’s advantage at the break.
With no changes for either side at half time aside from the referee who was replaced with fourth official Steven Rushton, the second period began with a Bolton attack with Gudjohnsen putting the ball in the back of the net, only to be deemed offside.
The bright start continued from the hosts, but as both teams began to settle into the game a little more, Birmingham were proving a stubborn nut to crack as Wanderers pressed forward in search of an equalising goal.
Neil Lennon’s men were getting closer with each passing attack with Moxey notably causing problems for the Blues down the left flank with his wicked balls across the face of goal unfortunately narrowly eluding his teammates.
Moxey was again in the thick of the action with 13 minutes of the half gone as he found Bannan at the far post, only for the midfielder to struggle to get any direction on his shot which thundered into the stand behind.
The game saw the introduction of Tom Walker in place of Danns moments later, but with the blustery weather conditions playing their part Wanderers were having to work hard to make headway in the game.
Birmingham, who had found themselves under pressure from the outset, then saw Lloyd Dyer break free on a rare move forward, but the striker’s final product didn’t trouble Bogdan.
Buoyed by their close call, Gray had hearts in mouths with 25 minutes to go as he attempted to curl the ball in to the Hungarian’s top corner, only to miss the target by a matter of inches.
As the clock ran down, Liam Feeney was thrown into the mix as Gudjohnsen left the field of play in a bid to help Wanderers find an elusive equaliser and were almost rewarded when the winger found Le Fondre in the six yard box, but the striker’s eventual header was wide of the mark.
Feeney almost turned goalscorer himself with 15 minutes remaining as he scooped up a loose ball in the box, only to fire his shot over the crossbar as Saidy Janko became the Whites’ final change in place of Mark Davies.
With the clash entering its final ten minutes, Bolton threw men forward but their frustration was evident as the Birmingham backline stood firm.
Once three minutes of added time were indicated, it was a case of all hands to the pump for Wanderers with the visitors almost snatching a second on the counter attack through Dyer.
With a free-kick awarded for a foul on Janko, bodies piled into Birmingham’s half as the hosts pushed for a late goal but it was to no avail as the St Andrew’s outfit held out for all three points.