Report: Birmingham defeat brings Wanderers’ unbeaten home league record to an end
Match rating: ★★★
Bolton remain bottom of the Sky Bet Championship table, after a 1–0 deficit to Birmingham City saw them slip to their first home league defeat of the season.
Coincidentally, the last side to beat Wanderers at The Macron Stadium in the league was Birmingham on the final day of the 2014/15 campaign.
And the game had a very similar feel to it: the visitors were well-organised and proved to be very difficult to break down.
On a number of occasions on home turf this season, Neil Lennon’s men have been able to take a lot of positivity from games that they haven’t won, because they were the better side and should have taken the three points.
But this wasn’t one of them. There were chances for Bolton to get themsleves back in the game after falling behind but, equally, Birmingham also had opportunities to kill off the game.
It was the worst that Bolton have played at home for some time: there was a real lack of quality; the centre backs looked vulnerable all night; passing in midfield was wayward on a number of occasions; and there was no cutting edge.
Lennon opted to start Gary Madine and Emile Heskey — two similar players in their style of play — together upfront from the off, but it never worked. The majority of ball that was fed to the pair was dealt with by the City defence and the first-half in particular was frustrating for Wanderers.
Liam Feeney sliced a shot wide early on, after Jose Casado’s cross from the left fell at his feet, before Wellington Silva cut inside from the byline and saw a low drive saved by Birmingham keeper Tomasz Kuszczak.
It was the visitors who took the lead, though, when Demarai Gray’s free kick from the left wing was put away by ex-Wanderer Paul Robinson at the back post.
Liam Feeney, collecting a Gary Madine knock down, had a shot parried and then Heskey missed a good opportunity, as his header from six yards fell into Kuszczak’s hands.
Following the introduction of Max Clayton for the injured Wellington Silva, the hosts looked more lively in the second-half.
They should have been on level terms after three opportunities in quick succession were squandered. Feeney’s low shot was saved, Madine had a shot from a yard out blocked off the line by Morrison and then Pratley’s drive was also denied by Morrison.
That was as good as it got for Wanderers and Ben Amos was called upon on a couple of occasions late on to deny Birmingham, after space freed up with the hosts pushing for an equaliser.