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Match Report - Birmingham City 0 - Bolton Wanderers 1

Neil Lennon's reign as Bolton manager started with a win thanks to Matt Mills' header.

Lennon congratulating Matt Mills after his goal.
Lennon congratulating Matt Mills after his goal.
Bryn Lennon

Neil Lennon's first game back in the dug-out for 6th months ended in victory as his Bolton Wanderers side battled for a dogged win away from home.

The first meaningful chance of the game fell to the hosts as David Cotterill came within inches of handing the home side the lead in the 15th minute, only to see his effort from 20 yards expertly tipped onto the cross-bar by Andy Lonergan.

The following 10 minutes consisted of dominant Whites possession and it wasn't much longer until the deadlock was broken at St Andrews. Matt Mills timed his run perfectly to beat former Wanderers left back, Paul Robinson, in the air to head home Jay Spearing's cross on the 10th minute.

Despite taking the lead Neil Lennon's side struggled to maintain possession and had to thank their keeper, Andy Lonergan, for making a number of fine saves to deny Clark's men. After an adventurous run for midfield by Birmingham City's number 33, Demarai Gray, he hit a fierce drive which was smartly parried away by Lonergan.

In the second half Gray continued to torment Bolton's defence. He demonstrated brilliant flair and technical ability whilst running at pace towards Mills and Devirte. In the opening minutes of the second half Lonergan got the better of him once again, this time making a quick reaction save at his near post. 10 minutes after that Andy Lonergan made his third stop from Gray, and by far the most important one. After drifting past Neil Danns on the edge of Bolton's box Gray hit a fierce drive which took a slight deflection on its way through. The 31 year old reacted brilliantly to get the slightest fingertip on it, which saw the ball rocket off bar and head out for a Birmingham City corner.

After seeing out Birmingham City's spell of pressure Neil Lennon's men really should have put the game to bed. Craig Davies forced the Birmingham City left-back into playing a kamikaze back pass which gave the Blues keeper, Darren Randolph, no other alternative than to bundle down Davies. Randolph was sent marching by referee, Mark Haywood.

With Birmingham having used all of their substitutes, Lee Novak went in goal for the Blues, giving Davies a glories opportunity to score in-front of the travelling faithful, however Davies fluffed his lines and blazed his penalty into row z.

In the heat of the moment Neil Lennon was sent to the directors box after allegedly 'persistently leaving his technical area'

Speaking to the press immediately after the game, the new Whites boss said to the Bolton News:

"I got sent off because she said I was consistently leaving my technical area.

"It wasn't as if I was remonstrating with an official, giving Lee Clark a hard time or arguing with Birmingham players - what I wanted to do was get the message on to Jay Spearing to take the penalty.

"By all accounts Craig has scored the last three but I wanted a technical player to go up and take it, put his foot through it and put the game beyond doubt.

"In the end he's blasted it over the bar against an outfield goalkeeper. That tells me our game management needs to be a lot better."

Lennon was pleased with many aspects of Wanderers' display but believes the scoreline should have been more convincing.

"Seriously, if we had taken a bit more care in the final third we would have won three or four nil," he said.

"The amount of times we broke on them in the second half but kept giving the ball away cheaply, we were outnumbering them four against three and chose the wrong option.

"You can definitely see they are lacking a little bit in confidence; they were a little bit anxious on the ball. We need to be better with that.

"We got the penalty to go 2-0 up and it would have been thoroughly deserved but unfortunately we missed it.

"I thought the midfield boys gave us a great platform and Andy Lonergan was superb when he was called upon as well."

Neil Lennon's side managed to survive the momentous 6 minutes of added time and claimed their first win away from home all season.

Yesterday's win lifts the Trotters off the foot of the championship table and sees us just 3 points away from the relegation zone.

There's a quick turnaround this week as Bolton will only have to wait until Tuesday for their next fixture, which will see them travel down to the Valley to face Bob Peeters' Charlton side.