Blues Res 2 - Bolton Wanderers Res 1

Last updated : 02 March 2004 By IPFreely

First of all, Brucie watch: Tonight the Great Man was wearing a very fetching brown leather coat. It’s a shame he wasn’t wearing brown leather trousers because yours truly nearly wiped him out at the island behind the Land Rover works. He didn’t seem too fazed, which, I suppose just goes to show that even my driving can’t frighten someone who’s seen Mark Hughes in the nude!

And so to the game:
Bolton did what Blues normally do and fielded a very young team. Rarely can Solihull’s splendid little ground witnessed so many zits and so much bumfluff. Blues team included wrinkled old retainers such as Bennett, Kenna and Grainger (playing as the world’s smallest-ever pair of centre halves), Hughes and Kirovski. Not surprisingly, Blues more experienced grouping totally dominated the first half, although Bolton’s kids did well to get to terms with things in the second half.

Kenna was impressive. Blues had the Academy pair of Lee Vaughan and Matthew Birley playing on the right, to a continuous backdrop of positional advice and encouragement from Jeff. It was great to see an old pro helping the kids to such an extent and probably goes to show just what a diamond the bloke is. For the record, Vaughan and Birley both had solid games.

Central midfield featured the pairing of Kirovski and Hughes. It’s great to see Kirovski playing deep, instead of up front with his back to goal. He looks so much more comfortable bringing the ball forward, rather than trying to hold off hairy-arsed central defenders with the ball coming to him at throat height.

Blues took the lead after about 16 minutes. Hughes jinked past a couple of players in midfield, laid the ball off to Kirovski who’d drifted onto the left wing, Kirovski beat his man and whipped in a curling cross which Lucy Figueroa headed comfortably into the bottom corner.

Kenna and Grainger were coping comfortably with what little
Bolton’s kids could muster (mainly hopeful punts up field). Mat Sadler on the left had virtually nothing to do, whilst Hughes was spraying the ball around well from the centre circle. Blues cruised through the first half but failed to turn the superior possession into more goals.

’s players were demonstrating a remarkable ability for punting the ball out of the ground at every opportunity. I think they must have had some kind of sweepstake in operation. My two favourites (out of a double-figure total) were a tackle that put the ball out of the ground and over the car park into the trees (total distance about 70 yards in the air) and a clearance that went clear over the stand and finished up on the roof of Land Rover’s paint shop, about 150 yards away. Air Traffic Control at Birmingham Airport were alerted.

Second half,
Bolton came out looking much crisper and won a lot of ball in midfield where the lack of a ball winner in the Blues centre became very apparent. They began to get a fair number of long-range shots in, mainly because the Blues midfielders weren’t closing them down properly and inviting the shots.

Blues went 2-0 up after about 70 minutes, following fine work by Andrew Barrowman. Getting on the end of a weak cross, Barrowman knocked the ball slightly wide and headed for the by-line. Showing great alertness, he backheeled the ball to Kirovski who crashed the ball in first-time from the edge of the box.

were continuing to have much more of the ball in the second half and Blues were increasingly relying on break aways. One of these involved some excellent wingplay between Vaughan and Till (who’d come on for a tiring Birley). A fine cross ensued and Figueroa just failed to connect with a diving header at the unguarded back post. Lucy went off not longs after that, having taken a kick on the Achilles which he’d managed to run off successfully but which was probably also stiffening up a bit.

Bolton pulled a goal back after about 88 minutes. Some good interplay on the edge of the box led to yet another long-range effort which went in off the post. Regrettably, I don’t know who scored it because I’d bumped into a couple of acquaintances, unpleasant chaps of the Burberry cap variety who partake in arranged offsite pre-match entertainments with their correspondents from other clubs. The kind of people keyboard warriors would call ‘Zulus’, but who would themselves laugh at such a description. I was talking with these dodgy fellows when the ball went in and so didn’t catch the name of the Bolton scorer.

Blues had a little flurry of activity after the goal and Hughes saw a neat lobbed header tipped onto the crossbar by
Bolton’s goalie, Sam Ashton (who has a gob of Schmeichel proportions but lacks the ability of the Giant Dane).

Finally a word for tonight’s officials – referee Mr P Miller and linespeople Mr Pardoe and Miss Rayner (not Claire, sadly). They kept the game moving very well, created no fuss, seemed to have no appetite for being the stars of the show and were generally good eggs. No doubt it’s the last time we’ll see them – far too good to get anywhere in this career.

Bennett, Vaughan, Sadler, Hughes, Grainger, Kenna, Birley (Till 70), Kirovski, Barrowman, Figueroa (Hall 82), Motteram. Subs not used: Sheppard, Painter, Legzdins

Bolton: Ashton, Powell, Gillan, Jones, O’Brien, Talbot, Thach, Kribib, Buval, Hamlin, Gibb. Subs: Moran, Howarth, Errington, Knowles, Hill.