Birmingham 1 Bolton 2
David Sullivan’s final home game as Birmingham co-owner ended in disappointment as substitute Chung-Yong Lee’s late goal earned victory for Bolton at St. Andrews.
Sullivan, who has been at the helm for 16 years, looked on from the director’s box as Lee struck only a minute after Kevin Phillips had levelled for Blues.
That had cancelled out Tamir Cohen’s first half effort for the visitors.
Victory for the Trotters eased the pressure on manager Gary Megson as Bolton, who have failed to win at home in their six last league games, clocked up their second victory in three away encounters this season.
There was nothing pretty about their performance but they were content to sit back and defend in depth and were also effective at times on the counter-attack.
Former Blues player Fabrice Muamba was impressive in the centre of the park while Gary Cahill also made several vital interceptions.
Birmingham had plenty of possession but lacked a cutting edge and three goals in seven games is a worrying statistic for manager Alex McLeish.
England head coach Fabio Capello made a rare visit to St. Andrews to watch the game.
Blues had an early scare when goalkeeper Joe Hart came out of his box to try and head clear. But the on-loan Manchester City player failed to find touch and was relieved when an ambitious effort from the touch-line by Ivan Klasnic was only just too high.
Then after 10 minutes Bolton stunned the home fans by taking the lead through Cohen.
A throw from Samuel Ricketts was flicked on at the near post by Kevin Davies and Cohen beat Hart with a header which looped into the corner of the net for his third goal of the season.
Blues retaliated and after 30 minutes Tainio came close to equalising for Blues.
Bowyer found the overlapping Gregory Vignal in space on the left flank and his first time cross picked out the run of Tainio into the box.
His volley contained plenty of power but flashed a yard wide with Jasskelainen well beaten.
Another probing cross from Vignal was turned goal-bound by Barry Ferguson and took a deflection off Gary Cahill before forcing a fine save out of Jaaskelainen.
Blues appealed for handball against Cahill, who came close to joining them from Aston Villa last season, but their protests were waved aside by referee Steve Bennett.
City were now enjoying most of the possession and Keith Fahey thundered a fierce 20 yarder against the Bolton crossbar.
Ferguson was also just off target with a volley after Bolton were guilty of some slack defensive play. Bowyer also claimed a penalty after a challenge by Jlloyd Samuel but it would have been a harsh had Bennett pointed to the spot.
Birmingham began the second half on the offensive but a 20 yard drives from Benitez and Larsson caused no problems for Jaaskelainen.
Bolton boss Gary Megson made a substitution after 54 minutes with Klasnic replaced by Lee with Davies reverting into the central striker role.
Birmingham fans began chanting ’4-4-2’ in response to McLeish continuing with Benitez on his own upfront.
Lee could have doubled Bolton’s lead when he seized onto a pass from Davies and went around Hart but the angle became narrow and he dragged his shot across the face of goal.
McLeish switched to 4-4-2 after 62 minutes with Tainio replaced by Garry O’Connor.
Johnson became the first player to be yellow carded two minutes later for dissent.
Megson brought on Gavin McCann in place of Gardner with 20 minutes remaining and he came close to scoring only to be denied by Hart who came quickly off his line to block his shot.
Phillips replaced Vignal and levelled for Birmingham with five minutes remaining after collecting a pass from Benitez.
But Lee grabbed the winner a minute later after Taylor’s free-kick had hit a post.