Often Partisan

Fine Lines – Bolton Match Reflections

Here are my reflections on the match between Bolton and Blues at St Andrews.

The result

You just knew it, didn’t you? Bolton in the midst of their worst start in 100+ years and Blues on fire at home meant only one thing – a Bolton win. It was a shame but in front of the Sky cameras Blues managed to forget all the good stuff that they had done in previous games and gift two goals (and nearly a third) to Bolton making their task massively uphill. The first goal came after a spell of Blues pressure – what Dan Burn was doing I don’t know but once Jermaine Beckford got past him you knew there was no way in hell Burn or Paul Robinson would catch him. The second goal just looked like an absolute flap from Randolph and I don’t think Danns has had an easier chance in his life.


I’ve praised Clark of late but I think he got it wrong today. It seemed obvious from early on that Matt Green was isolated up front and that Andrew Shinnie couldn’t seem to get involved in the middle. Clark tried to change it by bringing on Zigic and Novak for Green and Shinnie but with Lingard and Burke both pushing up the pitch Blues were left with barely any midfield – especially as both Adeyemi and Reilly seemed to be struggling. I’d have pushed on Caddis for Shinnie (as well as bringing on Ziggy for Green) and moved to a 3-4-3 with Burke and Lingard playing off the big man and having three centre backs to try to counter the pace of Beckford up front for Bolton – with Ferguson to come on for the fading Murphy a bit later on.

Chris Burke

I felt a bit for Burkey today; he was probably the shining light in the Blues team and for a long time he was the only attacking outlet we seemed to be able to use. Bolton quickly picked up on that and looked to isolate him when he had the ball so he had to really work hard to cross it in and so he couldn’t drive into the box to shoot. Whilst Lingard undoubtedly has talent with two up front he went to a wide left position that didn’t suit him and he didn’t provide the balance that Burke really needs to take some of the pressure off him.

Callum Reilly

Today was probably the poorest game I’ve seen Reilly in this season and yet but for an excellent save from Adam Bogdan he could have equalised in the first half. Reilly gives us a terrier in midfield, snapping away at attackers, breaking up play but his distribution was woeful at times and he gave the ball away more often than he found a blue shirt. Reilly is no longer a teenager (he turned 20 this week) and with over 20 appearances in the first team he really needs to push on to consolidate his career. There is a good player in there but I think he needs to learn from the mistakes of today to build on his early promise.

Lee Novak

I honestly cannot believe I heard fans booing Lee Novak when he came on. I know it’s happened before – Hayden Mullins and Keith Fahey being recent targets of the boo boys – but I had hoped that Blues fans were better than that. Novak might not be the best of players but he does give his all – we cannot ask for any more than that of anyone and to boo him before he’s touched a ball is frankly disgusting.

The Ref

Once again, we get a dismal performance from a ref. Clear penalty missed; Mills should possibly have walked for a second bookable offence when he fouled Zigic and a host of strange and inconsistent decisions that meant the players couldn’t see what was going to be given as a foul and what wasn’t.

Whilst it’s a defeat in a game we should be targetting to win it’s not the end of the world. Nikola Zigic notched his first goal of the season to set him on the goal trail and there were some okay performances; it was just proof more than ever that this is a team that will occasionally make mistakes and the team have to try to iron them out. On another day Beckford would have blasted wide and Danns wouldn’t have been able to get to the ball – and we’d have probably celebrated a win. Fine lines…

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67 Responses to “Fine Lines – Bolton Match Reflections”

  • Steve-o says:

    You missed the bit about the referee missing the most blatant hand-ball in the area I have ever seen. It was akin to a bloody volleyball return.

  • Ainsley says:

    Agree with most of it, especially the ref, was making his own rules up at certain points, when Lingard was flattened and he ignored it, then bolton countered and robinson (i think) ripped him out, he just waved it on, not that I’m complaining about the second decision of course. But like you said, fine lines, if the keeper had been a foot the other way before saving reillys shot could have been completely different result, anyway, on to the next. KRO

  • Chris W says:

    Basically a bad day at the office all round in my opinion, the world watching and two of our consistent players make schoolboy eras. This was probably our 2nd worst performance behind Burnley.
    Good, bad or indifferent no player deserves to be booed, the players LC has mustered are giving 100+% for the club.
    Several players were below par today, maybe they were camera shy, or just didn’t get up early enough, who knows. We missed Wade Elliott and for once, LC was undone by his own tactics.
    He has done well with most games and recently got it spot on, Freeman outwitted him and as usually happens to Blues an ex player comes back and Scores.
    Though it hurts to lose hopefully they will learn and come back stronger.
    I thought the crowd were quiet too, a chance to make some noise, show some passion, but only the od whimper from where I sat anyway, even Block 19 were subdued… Maybe we all dislike the early kick-offs

    • Andy W says:

      I think we have a bit of an aversion to being on telly Chris! But you’re right. We were below par in most departments, and two errors handed the game to Bolton. We didn’t set off with the same pace and tenacity we have shown recently. We were often second to the ball, misplacing passes, handing back possession, all the hallmarks of a side who are not yet totally confident in what they’re doing. There was some nice approach play, but the final ball let us down. I think the booing when Novak came on was more aimed at the decision rather than the player himself. I think most fans recognise Lee Novaks’ work rate, but most people around me couldn’t understand why he was brought on as he offered little different than what we had. I think they felt there were better options tactically? But I agree, booing when a player comes on sends a very negative message.
      I think we are just going to have to accept that our season is going to be like this. Hopefully, we will come back stronger for the experience.

  • Chris W says:

    I forgot to mention the handball miss and I agree some dubious refereeing.

    • John says:

      With the game being shown live on Sky, the referee,didn’t do himself any favours. Not only did those of us in the ground see how bad he was, but also, thousands of armchair fans,saw him make a fool of himself.

  • wateyuk says:

    I watched the game and as a Bolton supporter I agree that it was a handball for you guys in our area but your only goal came off the arm of your player after zigic headed it towards goal.. Ref was abysmal and didn’t control the game consistantly enough and Robinson took a swipe and could of seriously injured beckford… That being said, blues did well to get back into the game after the gift of goals they gave us.

    • Bazzathebluenose says:

      The ball was already over the line regardless of any ‘offense’ that then takes place. The goal was awarded to Zigic which proves the point. The ball did not come off Adeyemi’s arm but his shoulder as he attempted to apply the final touch with his head. It doesn’t matter as Bolton deserved the win because Birmingham beat themselves and gift wrapped two goals giving a team totally lacking confidence the tonic they needed. Birmingham City have done this throughout the 50 years I’ve been supporting them and it is one of the many reasons they have under achieved for a club representing the UK’s second biggest city that should do a lot better. These are dark days for our club but we will come again. Congratulations on your win.

  • tony says:

    As a team we were poor,the midfield looked second best and when we did have the ball too often we gave it away with terrible passing.Burke was the only player that created anything and when zigic came on we just went route one far to often.I know zigic scored but other than that i thought he was completely useless and i never heard anyone boo novak.Tactically clark got it wrong again which has happened far too often in his time at blues .

    • mike ware says:

      Very unfair on Cark his tactics and the way the team has been set up of late has been very good although I do agree eith Dan should have changed to three at the back yesterday.

  • mark says:

    Dan your summary is spot on sometimes the players have to take responsibility not always the manager fault, two individual errors from players who have generally be reliable for us.
    Attendance was shite again sorry even if its on tv…………its about time the fans wear their shirts with pride….. definately a penalty, another shocking performance from a sub-standard Ref……………………..hopefully in.two weeks time we are get ready to go again……………kro

    • Wearynose says:

      Pride? In giving your hard earned to help out Yeung and BIHL shareholders to recoup their losses on the purchase and to put £1.6m a year into Pannu’s pocket. There can be no pride in being stupid.

      • pete says:

        Ok let’s just call it being a true fan.

        • Wearynose says:

          A “true fan”! That’s like rabid nationalists wrapping themselves in the flag. A true fan supports the club and is fond of it but he doesn’t risk his family’s well being by spending money on following the club to the detriment of his family, which a lot of people do and classify themselves as “true fans”. Giving money to BIHL and Pannu to watch loanees and poor football is not being a true fan, it’s being stupid and wasting money which would be better spent for your loved ones’ benefit. There are 12,000 true fans who are not attending at the moment.

  • Johnners says:

    Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating. We could of and should of won this game but seemed determined to throw it away. Agree with all that is being said here and would like to raise a question about Green not Novak. I’m afraid he looked a yard off the pace and seriously out of his depth yesterday. Burke set him up with two wonderful crosses in the first half and he worked very hard to miss both. I get the impression he is short on confidence and becoming a bit ball-shy. Then Zigic comes on and completely changes the game with his general presence and dominance of the penalty area. So my question is why didn’t Zigic, the £55k per week international, start ahead of Green, the ex-non league Championship debutant? Surely, Zigic is nailed on to start the next game and partner with Lingaard to finally give us some consistent bite in the final third.

    • SteveT says:

      I agree with Johnners, Green was awful yesterday – he had two gilt edged chances handed to him on a plate and he contrived not only to miss the target but to miss the ball too. To be fair I don’t think he is yet up to this level of football – unfortunately we don’t have too many other options. Asante clearly has a problem with fitness. Zigic will do a job but our style of play changes too dramatically whenever he is on the pitch. Chasing a game we lump long balls into the box – hardly sophisticated and it fails more often than it succeeds.

  • sutton apex says:

    2 schoolboy errors and a shocking missed penalty by the referee – must bounce back quickly and rekindle the confidence of recent wins. Does worry me slightly clark is a tinkerman ??

  • bluenoseneil says:

    You can tinker or not tinker all you like with our side and tactically Clark does sometimes get things wrong, but he played the same formation and 11 that pulverised an in form Millwall on Tuesday and 2 moments of bad play did for us.

    It doesn’t make for bad management or a bad team. We were simply unlucky and Bolton had the resolve to hold their lead.

    Ziggy and Novak represented a shift in tactics and it was a sensible change after Green and Shinnies bad days at the office. Reilly was poor and Adeyemi stopped being effective after being clattered in the First Half. These things will happen and the result of this was Burkey getting a little too greedy on the ball at times (his only weakness is he can play like a one man team and we do give him the impetus to), and Lingard was non-existent. For that I will say it felt like Freedman had done his homework.

    All I know is we have the tools to be in this league for next season and beyond and given our parlous financial state I am kind of glad that anyone scouting on TV won’t have been soiling themselves with excitement at our (WE know they’re quality) goalkeeper, left back and right winger.

    International break, time to reflect and recharge batteries and then come back and work out how to win Away!!


  • carl allen says:

    I can’t believe Clark couldn’t see that the midfield was poor, they weren’t feeding the ball up front on the ground, it was like watching volleyball. I would have done exactly what you said…. Bring fergy on, and go 343, attack them with pace. Everything about the first half told us that it wasn’t working, so what does Clark do ? …. Go into the second half unchanged. Wtf ?

    Yes there were mistakes from a crap ref, but in all honesty they were awful and we should be three points better off. But instead we flop in front of Sky cams as usual.

  • pierre says:

    burn……milk turns quicker!

  • Blueboy88 says:

    Bottom Line we have been beaten by a poor team at home….again

  • edd77 says:

    same old blues the high of millwall and then just a few days later that with same team ,but the 2 mistakes where schoolboy errors not pro footballers,i agree with blueboy88 Bolton are a poor team whos Christmas came early yesterday

  • mike b says:

    hi all….is it the right time to mention our next three games????..stoke..leeds…derby…

  • DoctorD says:

    Clark gets stick when he changes the team and, now it seems, even when he doesn’t. I do think Bolton have just got off to a very slow start (a bit like last year) and will end up in or near the playoffs. Just a pity we played them when they were turning the corner.

  • okocha125 says:

    I watched it yesterday ( Bolton fan ) and thought how strange football is , didnt feel that long ago this was a premier league fixture , but what always makes me laugh is just how fickle a football fan really is , this fixture last season us Bolton fans looked at it with disgrace that we lost to a terrible Birmingham team , and now this season because you had a couple of good results recently now you can’t believe you have lost to such a poor Bolton team , o well , i suppose thats the way it is though. Summarising the game i though we deserved the win , but then again on the downside i think your best player was on loan ( burke ) ? maybe this isnt right so correct me if not but i thought he was a cracking player, but also our best player was on loan too and it just makes you wonder how contracted players at the club can carry on calling them selves pros its a shambles. One massive difference i have noticed from prem to this division is the referees i mean we all thought that they were bad in the prem but christ they are so poor in this one , anyways good luck boys.

  • Chris W says:

    Nice to see opposition posting, shows that OP is respected at other clubs too, are the nasty comments edited out, which would be understandable.
    Anyway, back to the game and LC, the anti brigade are at it again.
    We have no money and he has bought in players who give 110% every game, they are human and not machines, they have excelled in the last 3 games scoring 11 goals from 6 different players. A few weeks ago we were wondering where the goals were coming from.
    When one player has a howler it is not too noticeable, but when several players have howlers plus a lapse or misjudgement (The ball did take a deflection) from the keeper we had to battle up a very steep hill.
    13,000 supporters will all have different opinions on every aspect, LC is the man in charge and he stands and falls by his decisions, and, like us, is human.
    Give the guy some slack, he, along with all the staff are doing the best they can without the proper tools.

  • Bluepenguin1976 says:

    Went down yesterday. Ill admit its only my 2nd match of the season as I usually have my 3 nippers on Saturday but hankfully the wife was off work.I didnt think Blues played that badly,like Almajir says I thought the formation left Green isolated.The issue being we made two huge blunders and just couldnt get that cutting edge in attack. Felt pretty sick at the end because we should never have lost that one.

    Couldn’t believe that penalty call, How is that not a penalty?,I can understand that sometimes the game can move at high pace but if the chap was any closer to the action Reilly would have been giving him a piggy back.

    Back to the drawing board.

  • Tony says:

    Individual mistakes, poor ref, unlucky, Nope the truth is we were very poor, totally disjointed no midfield a main striker who doesnt know the goal from a packet of rice crispies. there is also a question regarding his courage maybe if he got himself in where it hurts he would score more, the one quality finisher was stuck out on the left wing most of the time
    I thought Bolton were better all over the pitch having said that they had not won in 10 games we should have buried them. There just doesnt seem to be any fluency any movement at all, this all comes down to a lack of quality compounded by a naive manager who is still fishing in the dark for an answer,Adeyemi Reilley, Green,Novak looked what they are Im afraid not Birmingham city first team players.
    Burn and Randolph made bad errors fair enough they were due them, I cant agree with Fine lines I thought Bolton were better and deserved the win

    • Chris W says:

      Fishing in the dark…. Could that be because he has no money to buy bulbs, let alone players.

    • steve says:

      I think Adeyemi has been one of our best players this season.Reilly has proved that he is more than adequate at this level.Lingard has saiid that his favoured position is out on the left and cutting in.I think we were the better side yesterday,but lacked that bit of quality in the final third.As at Reading.The proof is there that the defeat was down to individual mistakes by two of our most reliable players.I didn’t understand his sub of Shinnie for Novak/ Murphy,Shinnie was doing ok imo. Clark seems too eager to play Novak,who clearly isn’t good enough.Fergie should have come on for Murph,not Novak.Some fans got carried away by our hammering of two very poor teams.Unfortunately we’ve been brought back to earth with a bang. The performances are improving but they need to improve a lot more.

  • Tony says:

    Chris he has the players to finish 10-12th in this league This is the guy who wouldnt include our best player(Burke) for the first 5 or six games because he didnt fit into his systems. this is the guy who sticks our most potent striker(Lingard) out on the left wing,who ignores our best left sided player (Ferguson).The guy who spent twelve months and very scarce money on Caddis the leaves him out. I could go on and on but whats the point? the glassy eyed happy clappers are so entrenched in their support for the gum chewing fool on the touchline I feel sorry for them but I will never join them.

    • bluenoseneil says:

      Oh dear…

      I don’t think anyone has the time or energy to respond to a post that is so clearly unfounded in knowledge or fact.

      It’s a shame Tony as sometimes you speak sense.

      On this occasion it appears to be another tirade and pop at Clark.

      We were unlucky and made 2 bad mistakes. Nothing more really. I don’t think you need to switch on the melodrama very time it doesn’t go our way 100%. One thing you did state is fair: we DO have the players to finish mid table. They were all on the pitch/bench yesterday and can get results with Clark’s help and the rub of the green.

      Negative waves just bounce off me I guess.


  • pierre says:

    the goalie has been excellent all season,but i think opposition teams will target obvious lack of pace with through balls, rather than high balls. i also thought Randolph hadn’t much confidence in burn yesterday.

  • Retired&Weary says:

    I wonder how much the rather disappointing communication from PP in the week affected everybody. There was certainly a poor atmosphere yesterday. Like you Dan I was pessimistic before the game. Bolton’s draw at Blackpool was perhaps an indication of them starting to turn the corner.
    Regarding the substitutions I was also puzzled. Yes Zigic was needed, but not Novak as well. It seemed like panic from LC. The result was hoof ball which I had hoped we’d grown out of. I agree the booing of Novak was a disgrace.

  • mark says:

    Any fan booing their own players should be a shamed of themselves and grow up……..

  • BlueBlues says:

    These are the same group of players that have produced the last three excellent home results. Yesterday was a case of to many bad performances and two awful mistakes. If you look at Bolton the majority of players have played in the premiership, it’s seems that many blues fans expect us to roll every one over, just look at our team which has been put together with no money. In regards to the subs I have to agree that it was strange that the two big lads were brought on which ment Lingard being used out of position on the left. Just to finish another very poor ref definite penalty and some very poor dessions for both teams, I thought the scissor tackle on Burke should of been an automatic sending off.


  • Mac says:

    I’d love to see how good (or bad) you are at your job!
    In fact if you had an appraisal carried out in the same harsh method you employ, I’m sure you’d be in tears.
    Thank god most of us don’t have to carry out our professional lives in the full public glare and be judged by people (like you) who’ve already made their minds up about our abilities. I wonder if you’d be so harsh with your opinion if it was given face to face.

  • Art Watson says:


    Appraisals usually are driven by performance and the achievement of agreed objectives”.

    Examine Clarks poor record and his butterfly management style then take in to account his salary circa £300k pa .

    Do you think he’s an a achiever?
    Is he worth his salary?
    Would you continue to employ him?

    I’d be very happy to give him his annual appraisal together with his leaving package.

    • Chris W says:

      And who would you replace him with, bearing in mind you have to pay him compensation on his remaining contract, you have to employ another manager.
      The new manager will want his own backroom staff so you will have to pay more compensation, all these new staff will probably want the going rate which is more than LC is on, and will not be able to bring in new playing staff.
      We will then have to endure the team getting use to a new system or formation or partnerships…
      Better the devil we know…. He knows the situation he is in and the tools (players) he has to use…
      Support him until he can either justify his actions or proves he simply isn’t good enough…

  • BigmanSteve0 says:

    Some times we’re good,sometimes we’re bad,
    When the blues win it makes me glad.
    But being a blues fan is what I’m about,
    But sometimes the frustration makes me shout.
    But What I have learnt in the past 30 years, is when you think we will win it’ll end in tears,
    But would we have it any other way, my blue heart is here to stay

  • Tony says:

    Yes Mac I would tell him face to face he is useless, I have never had to receive an appraisal I have carried out many and dispensed with many, its either my way or the highway.I worked for myself for almost 40 years.

  • marvin says:

    The only thing consistent about blues is there inconsistence.
    what a laugh.

  • BigmanSteve0 says:

    I here blues have offered Randolph & cash to wolves for Ikeme ….?

  • sappy sad says:

    ….For me all this swapping and changing with players learning there trade is great ,….gradually …but like man u ,to much to quick aint good for a reliable team ,no reflection on L.C.as he hasent got time to form a team for all possibilities …so for me we have to go for points now for one we need them and two we need to attract buyers ,..so we need to master one system ,..3x4x3 ,..seems as good as any ,….lingard and zigic and burke are our best strikers and must play with 3 up front the midfield must be a bit more defensive but still capable of attacking quality,..so midfield would be caddis …adeyemi …Elliot….fergusan….with robboe burn .spector in defence with the rest of the squad out to come on if any player is having a off day

  • sappy sad says:

    ….sorry I mist out murphy and ferguson sharing left of midfield

  • jazzzy786 says:

    I don’t think either team deserved any points. The football league should dock both team points for that poor excuse for a football game. I watched it on sky and feel cheated out of 2 hours of my life. I really feel for the 13000 who went.

  • BhamCityJulian says:

    I think you’re being very harsh on Reilly. It’s not as if there are any particularly talented teammates in midfield from which to learn.

    I didn’t boo Novak but the guy has shown nothing apart from running around and that is no substitute for ability. He never gets in the danger area, on only one occasion has made a telling pass and in one on ones with centre backs never wins the ball in the air or on his chest and only occasionally with his feet. It is no coincidence our rich vein of goal-scoring came when his play was not clogging up our arteries

  • Wearynose says:

    From what I saw on TV it was a matter of two teams who look as if they will be relegation candidates. It was game very low on quality. There was no creativity from Blues, no goal threat no ability to pass a ball over any sort of distance. Burke was the only consistent threat for us. The two lapses were unfortunate but the mistakes by Burn and Randolph, previously consistently good players, gave us no chance when the team was performing so poorly. It was reminiscent of many low grade performances in the last thirty years when struggling in the lower reaches of the Championship or Division 1. Bolton were very poor and we were worse. There was just too much brainless, incompetence-induced head tennis.

    The sad thing about your report, Dan, is that you have joined the ranks of Blues fans who criticise youngsters for having variations in their performances. Your criticism of Reilly is unjustified. He is only twenty. There were more experienced players on the pitch who couldn’t do the basics and who couldn’t provide the slightest sign of any creative ability. You say that he has now played 20 games as if that was a huge amount. It is the equivalent of less than half a season. I thought that he showed some promise, and that is all we can expect. You remind me of the fans who denigrated Redmond for going to Norwich, as if he had any choice, and then said that his performances had dropped off and that he wouldn’t be missed. Like hell is he not missed!

    If not Reilly then who else? The academy has already been stripped prematurely bare in order to try to plug the gaps left by the BIHL realisation of assets to reduce their losses on their ill-judged purchase price and to pay Pannu his £1.6m a year. The academy was not comparatively excellent anyway; we’ve never won a league title or the FA Youth Cup, so why should we have a ruck of lads who were likely to be of first team quality at a very early age?

  • Wingman Blue says:

    Unfortunately we gave up on the midfield and attempted the long ball against players that were bigger than we were – result lost possession. Bolton used their size to bully our midfield and their pace to overrun our ‘defence’. The ref was the worst I’ve seen in a long time, and the penalty that wasn’t couldn’t have been any more blatant – arms above his head?
    Sad to say that we haven’t been consistent since McJudas before the cup win. It’s no longer a new phenomenon.
    Can’t imagine that the speculation about running out of money helped, either…

  • Knobby says:

    6 of us went including 2 youngsters for their first game. Great day out, club staff really friendly, shame about the result. Difficult explaining to the kids why we boo our own players!

  • mark says:

    Please novak has been rewarded his second goal of the season against bolton. Zigic is still yet to score………

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