The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP -

PAUL Cad­dis scored the £20m goal that kept Birm­ing­ham in the Cham­pi­onship to cap a sen­sa­tional come­back at the Ree­bok.

Be­hind to strikes from Chung Yong Lee and Lukas Jutkiewicz, the Blues seemed doomed to a first rel­e­ga­tion to the third tier since 1994.

A Pre­mier League side just three years ago, de­mo­tion would have spelt dis­as­ter for Birm­ing­ham, cost­ing mil­lions in rev­enue and send­ing po­ten­tial buy­ers run­ning for the hills.

But with just 12 min­utes re­main­ing, Nikola Zigic – in his fi­nal game for the club – headed home be­fore tee­ing up Cad­dis for a dra­matic 93rd-minute lev­eller.

With Don­caster los­ing away at Le­ices­ter, a point was enough to stay up on goal dif­fer­ence and, as Bir­migham’s play­ers flung shirts, shorts and shin­pads into the ju­bi­lant away end, Clark sang the praises of his skip­per. “I didn’t even know who had scored,” he said.

“I just saw yel­low shirts fly­ing for­ward. I won­dered why the lads were chant­ing Paul’s name in the dress­ing room!

“He’s been out­stand­ing since I put him in mid­field. He’s a good foot­baller and he’s done a bril­liant job for

us. He was fan­tas­tic all game.”

Birm­ing­ham’s fans trav­elled in force, as well they might. With no home win since Oc­to­ber, a travel card has proved a sounder in­vest­ment than a sea­son ticket and they had count­less chances to take the lead.

But when Lee volleyed home and Jutkiewicz blasted through Dar­ren Ran­dolph, it seemed the game was up.

Then came the st­ing in the tail as first Zigic met Mitch Han­cox’s cross and then Cad­dis stretched ev­ery sinew to nod home the equaliser.

“At 2-0 we were star­ing down the bar­rel,” said Clark. “But the play­ers just found that spirit. I’m so proud of them. Keep­ing this club in the Cham­pi­onship is my big­gest achieve­ment in foot­ball as a player, coach or man­ager be­cause of the sce­nario around the club.”

Had Bolton found form a lit­tle ear­lier, they might have been the ones cel­e­brat­ing.

As it is, their woe­ful start to the cam­paign means they too will spend an­other year in the Cham­pi­onship. “We don’t hide away from the facts,” said boss Dougie Freed­man.

“We’ve given too many goals away at home this sea­son and this was an­other one of those games.

“That’s some­thing we’ve got to put right for the start of next sea­son.”

LUK-ING GOOD: Bolton’s Lukas Jutkiewicz makes it 2-0

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.