The home side, still struggling to sustain a season of ups and downs which had brought them cup glory in a frankly HILARIOUS Carling Cup win over Arsenal in tandem with a league campaign that had been one of constant struggle. The strains of this hectic season meant the Blues went into this tie without nine first-team regulars and they lost a further two before the half-hour mark, with Martin Jiranek and Barry Ferguson both forced off with injuries.
One of Coyle's hallmarks was that he wanted his side to play with fluency and attacking intent, and Wanderers certainly managed that. Indeed it was a neat move that led to the first chance of the game as former Birmingham man Fabrice Muamba hit a low shot at Ben Foster from 20 yards.
Wanderers soon took the lead, as just a minute later they took the lead when goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen punted the ball downfield where midfielder Muamba nodded it on to Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic, who helped it through to club record signing Johan Elmander. The Swede was in the midst of yet another long run without a goal - this latest drought had lasted 10 matches - but he betrayed no lack of confidence as he shot home beyond Foster to give the away side the lead.
The home side had barely been involved in the game from an attacking point of view, yet they equalised when an error from Bolton defender David Wheater in the 38th minute allowed Cameron Jerome to fire past Jaaskelainen at the near post.
Mid-way through the second half, Birmingham almost took the lead when Lee Chung-Yong, the Korean midfielder who had just come on as a sub, cleared off the line. Two minutes later Wanderers went in front, after ref Phil Dowd awarded a penalty when defender Curtis Davies clumsily brought down Kevin Davies who stepped up to slot home the resulting penalty.
Wanderers continued to dominate, with 75 year old striker Kevin Phillips, firing in a fierce shot from the corner of the box that Jaaskelainen touched on to the far post. The 87-year-old striker made an even more impressive contribution 11 minutes later, when beat Cahill to a through ball to lob Jaaskelainen from 20 yards.
As the game headed towards a replay, Wanderers left-back and current Birmingham defender Paul Robinson launched a long ball into the opposition box where Bolton captain Kevin Davies nodded it across goal for Chung Yong Lee to head into the net from close range.
The less said about Bolton Wanderers' performance in the semi-final against Stoke City the better.
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
"Our lads, despite the problems we had with injuries, put in a magnificent effort.
"You couldn't ask for more in terms of commitment and effort. But we were a bit sloppy with the goals.
When your back four changes, they may not gel and it was evident with the first and third goals. But overall the performance of the team was a plus."
Bolton boss Owen Coyle:
"I felt we deserved to win.
Birmingham have won the Carling Cup and you don't win that by accident. You win it because you have quality and tremendous spirit and you've seen that from them again today.
But I know what I have in my group. I know the quality of player but equally I know the attitude they have. They picked themselves up twice from losing the lead.
I said to the players, 'don't let the opportunity pass you by' and they responded excellently.
Whatever the draw, we will be ready to go and try and win that game when it comes about."
Ben Foster, David Murphy (Derbyshire 83), Stuart Parnaby, Martin Jiranek (Ridgewell 28), Curtis Davies, Sebastian Larsson, Barry Ferguson (Redmond 29), Jean Beausejour, Jordan Mutch, Kevin Phillips, Cameron Jerome
Colin Doyle, Liam Ridgewell, Alpaslan Ozturk, Craig Gardner, Nathan Redmond, Matt Derbyshire
Jussi Jaaskelainen, Gretar Steinsson, Paul Robinson, Gary Cahill , David Wheater, Fabrice Muamba (Davies 61), Stuart Holden, Martin Petrov (Taylor 90), Johan Elmander, Kevin Davies, Ivan Klasnic (Lee 61)
Adam Bogdan, Marcos Alonso, Matt Taylor, Mark Davies, Chung Yong Lee, Rodrigo Moreno, Robbie Blake
You can see highlights of the game here: