Report: Bolton 0-1 Birmingham City
Wanderers suffered their first home league defeat of the season after being beaten 1-0 by Birmingham City on Tuesday evening.
Former Bolton defender Paul Robinson opened the scoring for the visitors in the 21st minute of the clash, nodding home a free-kick at the far post.
Wanderers did have a number of penalty shouts turned down throughout the duration of the clash while Gary Madine and Darren Pratley saw efforts cleared off the line, but they couldn’t breach the Blues’ rear-guard and were left empty handed at the final whistle.
Emile Heskey returned to the starting XI for Wanderers, while there was a place on the bench for Under-21s striker Kaiyne Woolery.
For the opposition meanwhile, former Bolton defender Paul Robinson lined up against his previous employers under the floodlights at Macron Stadium.
Birmingham were the team in the ascendancy as the game got underway, with Wanderers forced onto the back foot inside the opening stages.
Ben Amos wasn’t being troubled inbetween the sticks though, with Bolton restricted the majority of the Blues’ play to the middle of the park.
It was Wanderers who enjoyed the first real chance of the game in the 11th minute, with Wellington Silva seeing his effort ripple the side netting after taking a deflection on its way through.
Darren Pratley came close to opening his account for the season soon after, but the midfielder’s scooped effort narrowly flew over the crossbar with Tomasz Kuszczak flailing.
Out of nowhere however, the visitors snatched the lead in the 20th minute through former Wanderer Paul Robinson who rose highest at the far post to nod a free-kick home past Amos.
A harsh goal on Bolton who had seen more goalmouth action than their opponents inside the opening quarter of the clash, Birmingham continued to press after their opener in a bid to extend their lead although Wanderers were standing firm.
With ten minutes of the half to go, Feeney tried his luck after collecting a loose ball in the area, only to sting the palms of Kuszczak with Macron Stadium already rising to its feet, while Heskey saw a header at the far post from a Jose Manuel Casado free-kick nicked away at the death.
The Bolton faithful were on their feet yet again moments later after Wellington was seemingly muscled off the ball in the box, but the Brazilian was booked for simulation.
Leaving the field with an injury shortly after, the winger was replaced with Max Clayton.
Wanderers tried to pull themselves level before the half time whistle and with four minutes of additional time indicated they powered forward after good link-up play between Mark Davies and Pratley, but it ultimately came to nothing as the Whites went in at the break a goal behind.
With no changes at the break, the game got back underway with Andrew Shinnie coming close to doubling Birmingham’s advantage, only to be denied at close range by the imposing figure of Amos.
Gary Madine then enjoyed a chance from a corner-kick with the frontman rising highest in the box to nod the ball goalwards, but his effort flew just over the bar to his dismay.
Buoyed by their early opportunity, Bolton continued to push and were almost rewarded in the 56th minute as both Madine and Pratley had shots cleared off the line in quick succession in a crowded penalty area.
Having escaped, Birmingham almost had a second with Shinnie and Clayton Donaldson forcing two smart saves out of Amos at range.
Madine then had a penalty shout of his own as he was apparently fouled in the box by Michael Morrison, only for the referee to wave away his claims.
Frustration was evident for the Whites, but they continued to press in search of an equalising goal and in a bid for extra fire power, threw Woolery into the mix in place of Heskey for his home debut with 15 minutes to go.
With ten minutes of the game remaining, Birmingham found some space in Bolton’s third of the pitch but their efforts ultimately proved fruitless as Wanderers stood firm in defence.
Bolton themselves threw men forward in their numbers as the clock ran down and when four minutes of additional time were indicated, it was a case of all hands to the pump.
Madine enjoyed a glorious chance on the stroke of the 90 after finding the ball at his feet, only to put his effort wide under pressure from his marker.
Wanderers won a free-kick deep into stoppage time for a foul on Davies and it was a packed penalty area for the delivery, but it was in vain as Birmingham held out for the victory.