Birmingham City 2 – 3 Bolton Wanderers
Saturday, March 12th 2011, 13.45 CET
This was a very intense game and I nearly lost the bet I had on Bolton Wanderers. But luckily, Bolton won with a late goal from Chung-Yong Lee. I’m surprised at Birmingham for holding their ground that well, especially with so many players missing. Although Bolton won (as expected), I’m impressed by Birmingham’s performance, to be honest: they came back in the game twice! So now Bolton gets to go in the semis of the FA Cup and play Stoke City. But I’m actually looking forward to the other semi: Manchester City vs Manchester United 🙂
The first goal came early in the match after a slow start, and it was one of the Bolton players to score it: Johan Elmander scores from inside the box, following a pass received from Klasnic. It was the 22nd minute. The execution was steady and precise, and didn’t give a hint about the fact that the Swede hadn’t scored for the past 10 games. The Trotters challenged Birmingham’s goal a little earlier as well. In the 18th minute, a good combination of passes among Bolton’s players left Stuart Holden with a good position, but he didn’t handle the ball well.
Birmingham’s injury problems before the game got worse in the minutes to come. So bad, in fact, that they had to take 2 players off the field in the following 8 minutes after the goal. The first player to go out was Martin Jiranek, replaced in the 27th minute after a foul by Kevin Davies. Then they had to replace the captain, Barry Ferguson who was playing with a broken rib. The replacements were Liam Ridgewell and Nathan Redmond.
Things suddenly got better for Birmingham, and just before the break. After a faulty clearance by David Wheater, Cameron Jerome picks the ball and gets it past Jussi Jaaskelainen with a low shot. This was in the 38th minute, and the 1-1 score remained until break time.
The second half started with a penalty claim by Bolton after a ball hit Curtis Davies‘s hand inside the penalty area after seven minutes of play. The referee ruled that he was pushed and a foul was awarded instead. A few minutes later the other side would claim a penalty at Jaaskelainen’s clearance, but the goalkeeper touched the ball first. In the 61st minute, a minute after his entrance on the field, Cung-Yong Lee cleared the ball off the line! Nevertheless, Bolton gained advantage after 66 minutes of play through a penalty scored by Kevin Davies.
When the game seemed settled, Phillips profited from a gap in the defense left by Wheater who went after a hopeless ball. He then volleyed the ball 20 yards from the goal and scored a beautiful goal in the 80th minute! And the same Wheater made a mistake towards the very end of the game, putting Bolton in advantage: after badly clearing a free kick, the ball eventually ended at Davies, who headed it back to the goalkeeper. However, Lee was there to head it in, and the celebrations started in the 89th minute!
Overall an enjoyable game, and brave resistance from the Birmingham side. Lots of errors in the defense, with Wheater being a disappointing replacement for injuree Zat Knight. I had bet 3 units on Bolton at 2.62 odds and thus won 4.86 units! Great start of the weekend plays!