February 24, 2016 by Shane Ireland
By Shane Ireland
Birmingham City advanced on their march towards the Championship play-offs under the lights at a bitterly-cold St Andrew’s.
On a night where points certainly trumped performance, Blues lifted themselves to within three points of fifth place and compounded Bolton’s misery in the process.
Clayton Donaldson’s first-half strike was all that was required for the home side, whose resolute defensive performance saw them record their fifth clean sheet in six games.
Diego Fabbrini provided the assist after a classy run to the byline, to ensure that Bolton continued their search for a first away win of the season.
Blues boss Gary Rowett highlighted that three points were the most important aspect on the night and was delighted with where the haul places his side.
“You always felt this was a really pivotal game. It was just a case of winning the game,” he said.
“We’re not a free-scoring team, we didn’t use the ball well enough but the one bit of quality in the game we ended up scoring from.
“We’re still very much in the mix, something that, after 32 games, everyone at the club everyone would have been really pleased with.”
Rowett made one only change to the team that drew 0-0 at Rotherham United last time out as Fabbrini made his first start since his move from Watford last month.
After Paul Robinson went close with the opening chance of the match when visiting goalkeeper Paul Rachubka spilled Stephen Gleeson’s cross, Italian playmaker Fabbrini claimed his first assist in royal blue.
He dribbled down the left-hand side of the pitch and delivered an inch-perfect cutback for Clayton Donaldson who made no mistake in poking home his seventh goal of the season from close-range.
At the other end, young Trotters defender Rob Holding then headed over Tomasz Kuszczak’s bar before Liam Feeney drilled a dangerous ball across the box which went untouched.
Neil Lennon’s side came out fighting from the break and Zach Clough almost applied the finishing touch to another Feeney cross, but was penalised for a foul.
Rowett then introduced David Cotterill and Jon Toral in the place of Will Buckley and Fabbrini in a bid to revitalise Blues’ attacking play, and the changes almost paid dividends immediately.
Gleeson launched a deep cross into the box towards Cotterill, but the Welshman’s volley was well saved by a speedy-handed Rachubka.
The former Blackpool stopper was then called into action once more as Toral tried his luck from outside the box, and again Rachubka got a strong palm to the ball to deny Blues a second goal.
As Bolton pushed for an equaliser Donaldson almost doubled his and the home side’s tally when he chipped Toral’s through ball over the bar, but a single strike was enough for Blues, who now sit just one win off the top six.
Birmingham: Kuszczak, Shotton, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds, Gleeson, Kieftenbeld, Buckley (Cotterill 64), Fabbrini (Toral 64), Maghoma, Donaldson
Subs not used: Legzdins, Vaughan, Spector, Davis, Caddis
Goals: Donaldson ’29
Bolton: Rachubka, Osede, Dervite (Danns 34), Holding, Moxey, Spearing (Wellington Silva 84), Feeney, Vela (Dobbie 84), Pratley, Davies, Clough
Subs not used: Wilson, Woolery, Walker, Campbell