ZIG’S RED THE FINAL STRAW
BOLTON ..........3 BIRMINGHAM ..1
ANGRY Birmingham manager Lee Clark slammed his side’s worst performance of the season after they surrendered an early Nikola Zigic goal to slump to a first defeat in four games at Bolton with the giant Serbian’s dismissal adding to the woe late on.
Wanderers snared all three points courtesy of Marcos Alonso’s equaliser and a brilliant individual goal from Chung-Yong Lee which lit up the Reebok Stadium before Keith Andrews added the third from the penalty spot.
And Clark pulled no punches after the final whistle as he openly criticised the display of his side while Bolton celebrated a welcome seventh win of the season to signal the end of a sorry afternoon for City.
“I am furious with that performance,” Clark said.“It was the most senior team I have put out for a long time and our most inept display so far.
“We allowed their central midfielders to dictate the tempo of the game unopposed.
“We only tested their goalkeeper once in the second-half and that is frustrating.
“Nikola’s red card has left us with zero strikers for New Year’s Day and I am disappointed because he has been such a good example to the team.
“The team needs to deliver. I love working at this club and I want people to stand alongside me to improve it.
“It hurts to see us put in a performance like that but I know there are a fine crop of youngsters here who are ready to fight and I will put out 11 teenagers if I need to.”
Bolton’s Jay Spearing almost scored a dramatic tenth minute opener when his dipping 30-yard volley shaved Jack Butland’s post.
But the hosts took the lead a minute later when Zigic bravely headed home a Chris Burke cross before both he and Trotters defender Zat Knight left the field for treatment after colliding.
Alonso equalised on 27 minutes however when he headed in from close range following a Tyrone Mears ball in to the box and Wanderers took the lead six minutes later when Lee held his nerve to see off the attention of Steven Caldwell before rounding Butland to provide an emphatic finish from the narrowest of angles.
Kevin Davies’ shot was tipped away by Butland with half-time approaching and Chris Eagles slid a shot wide midway through the secondhalf as Bolton dominated.
Alex Bogdan needed both hands to keep out Callum Reilly’s goal-bound effort after the Birmingham midfielder tricked his way through the Trotters midfield but Andrews extended Bolton’s lead with a 79th minute spot-kick after Caldwell handled the ball from Andrews’ own free-kick.
And the game ended on a sour note for the visitors with Zigic stupidly seeing red late on after receiving two yellow cards within a minute for two unnecessary challenges.
Trotters boss Dougie Freedman said: “It was a good performance from us.
“We deserved to win and we had the courage to keep the ball moving especially after going a goal down in the game.
“We have played well in other games and probably not got what we deserved but we put it all together.
“We were strong on and off the ball and we played exceptionally well at times.
“Defensively we looked solid but I think our performance in midfield was key.
“We thought we could control the game from there and we exploited that opportunity well.”
SPOT ON: Keith Andrews slots home Bolton’s third from the penalty spot
ALL SQUARE: Marcos Alonso heads in Bolton’s equaliser