Birmingham City 0-1 Bolton Wanderers: Trotters claim vital victory in relegation fight
(Photo: Getty Images/David Rogers)

Birmingham City 0-1 Bolton Wanderers: Trotters claim vital victory in relegation fight

A Callum Connolly header was the difference as they downed the Blues for their first win of the calendar year.

Jack Groom

Bolton Wanderers claimed a massive three points in their fight against relegation, as they shocked Birmingham City 0-1 at St Andrew's.

The 71st-minute header from Callum Connolly was enough to secure the points for the Trotters - their first victory in 20 outings - as they move to within four points of safety with a game in hand.

The whites defended superbly and repelled everything that Birmingham threw at them in order to claim a hard-earned success.

Story of the match

The home side looked the more rounded side in the opening period, combining some pacy interplay with long passes up to target man striker Lukas Jutkiewicz, whereas their visitors were favouring more of the latter. 

With two big, strong attackers in Clayton Donaldson and Josh Magennis, Wanderers' offensive approach focused on second balls up the physical duo.

They struggled to look effective at doing so for the first 35 minutes, yet when they did, it was this tactic that yielded the best chance of the half.

A ball down the channel was flicked from Magennis to Donaldson and into the path of the on-rushing Craig Noone  - having drifted inside from the left wing-back position - who smashed towards goal.

Goalkeeper Lee Camp parried away the initial attempt, however, the pacy wideman was the quickest to react, and with his second effort saw the ball curl agonisingly wide of Camp's right-hand post.

It was the only time that the away side had successfully carried out this plan - and its success had been shown - and so after the break they immediately looked to get on top of the hosts by doing so again.

A number of early corners were forced, in addition to a handful of promising openings, as Phil Parkinson's men aimed to stamp their authority on proceedings. Their efforts were nearly rewarded, however, Connolly could only stab wide from ten yards following a goal-mouth scramble.

The hosts looked to wrestle back some momentum from their lowly opponents, and in their endeavours, Jota saw an angled right-footed effort strike the upright after he was set up by Che Adams.

The longer that  Bolton were able to hold their hosts, the more you could see their confidence grow, and there was a definite feeling amongst the visiting outfit that they could get something out of the game.

Lo and behold, they soon got their noses in front.

A 71st-minute Luke Murphy free-kick was swung in from the right, and straight onto the head of Everton loanee Connolly. He managed to manoeuvre his effort beyond the despairing dive of Camp and into the corner, sending the travelling fans behind that goal into raptures.

As the Blues pressed for an equaliser Parkinson's charges held firm, defending resolutely as their put their bodies on the line countless times with blocks, tackles and headers to see out the victory.

There would be one last chance for the men in blue, and it fell to 19-goal top scorer Adams.

A sumptuous ball around the corner saw Adams through on goal and only ten yards out, yet with just the goalkeeper to beat, Wanderers stopper Remi Matthews produced a crucial stop as he got down low to his left to somehow parry the ball around the post, and win his side the three points in the process.

Takeaways from the match

Bolton must play to their strengths

With strikers in the mould of Donaldson and Magennis, Bolton should not be looking to get defenders turned and running in behind. Despite their huge work-rate, the duo will not be able to consistently challenge Championship defenders for pace. Instead, they are all about bullying centre-halves and holding the ball up for the teammates.

When the Trotters played off the two, with the pacy runners off them, they looked much more a threat.

Off night for Blues

Despite their four-goal heroics on Saturday, Birmingham looked devoid of ideas for much of the evening here.

However, with a frontline consisting of Adams, Jutkiewicz, Jota and co, there is no doubt they will bounce back quickly, as they seek to sneak into the play-off places

Noone should be utilised

With the predicament that Bolton are in, they should seek to get the full potential out of any attacking threats they hold.

Numerous times in the first half Noone beat his full-back with ease, however as he was deployed at wing-back instead then there is defensive responsibility that comes with that, too.

If he could be deployed in a position to allow him to purely attack, then he will surely produce key goals and assists in their battle against the drop.