Kevin Davies is congratulated by his Bolton team-mates
By Les Roopanarine
Bolton survived a late Birmingham revival to end their turbulent Premier League campaign on a high note.
The Trotters opened the scoring at the Reebok when Kevin Davies headed home Paul Robinson's first-half free-kick.
Ivan Klasnic added a second, latching on to a square pass from Vladimir Weiss to fire low past Blues keeper Joe Hart.
James McFadden scored after a second-half Christian Benitez penalty was saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen, but it was too little, too late for Birmingham.
Bolton's win, which completed a league double over Birmingham and sealed a 14th-place finish, sparked enthusiastic celebrations among the home support, consigning to history memories of a bleak midwinter during which the possibility of relegation loomed large for the Lancashire club.
That they ultimately survived with something to spare owes much to the steadying influence of Owen Coyle, the manager appointed in early January following the dismissal of predecessor Gary Megson.
Coyle has given Bolton a literal and metaphorical lift, guiding the club up the table while improving the morale of players and fans alike with an expressive brand of play that was brilliantly showcased against Birmingham.
Yet the visitors can take heart from a hugely encouraging return to the top flight which, defeat notwithstanding, brought them their highest league finish for 51 years.
From team selection to quality of performance, consistency has been the bedrock of Birmingham's success, a fact reflected in a club-record 15-game unbeaten run earlier this season and an untarnished home record dating back to last September.
Arguably the most impressive feature of the club's campaign has been a defensive resilience that has seen them concede fewer goals at home than any team outside the top four.
For once, though - due largely to some irresistible attacking play from Bolton - Birmingham were off the pace defensively.
With centre-half Scott Dann sidelined by a calf injury, Roger Johnson was partnered by Liam Ridgewell.
Coyle pleased with Bolton's young signings
Bolton were denied an early penalty claim when Fabrice Muamba was felled by the Spanish midfielder Michel, while only the swift reflexes of Hart, who raced off his line to make a crucial block, denied Matt Taylor from close range.
Zat Knight then shuddered the woodwork with a superb curled effort from just beyond the D, lending an air of inevitability to Davies's subsequent opener.
A card-carrying subscriber to the thou-shalt-not-pass school of defending in his Aberdeen days, Alex McLeish will not have been impressed by the simplicity of Bolton's opener, which came when Davies rose unchallenged to angle Robinson's free-kick across Hart.
Yet for all his side's uncharacteristic defensive frailties, the Birmingham manager will be more concerned by events at the other end of the pitch, where the visitors were repeatedly found wanting during a promising opening spell.
The visitors spurned an early chance when Lee Bowyer, afforded the freedom of the stadium by Cameron Jerome's clever cutback, sliced horribly wide.
McLeish shocked at finishing ninth
Neither Michel, the Spanish midfielder making only his third league appearance of the season, nor Jerome could do any better, and when McFadden did finally get the ball in the net for McLeish's men, his effort was ruled out by the referee Kevin Friend.
It looked a questionable decision, not least because McFadden - still barrelling goalwards after his initial effort was well saved by Jaaskelainen - knew little about the rebound that he subsequently bundled in off his upper torso.
Birmingham were incensed by the decision, and McFadden, Johnson and Sebastian Larsson all received bookings amid the ensuing recriminations.
Yet although McFadden later scored to exact a measure of revenge for the perceived injustice, in a curious way even Birmingham's goal highlighted their attacking travails.
Benitez, on as a second-half substitute for Larsson, went down under pressure from Robinson and Knight, but the Ecuador striker's subsequent penalty was well saved by Jaaskelainen.
When Bowyer then fired the rebound goalwards, the home side's Finnish keeper once again intervened, and it required a flying intervention from McFadden to finally see the ball home.
By then, however, Bolton were two goals to the good, Klasnic claiming a goal straight out of the Coyle coaching manual by sweeping home stylishly after being picked out by Weiss, who had been hemmed in by a trio defenders.
Coyle, a naturally ambitious character, will take no great satisfaction from finishing four places clear of the drop zone, a sentiment likely to be echoed among supporters who grew accustomed to ruffling more illustrious feathers in the days when Sam Allardyce ruled the roost at the Reebok.
Yet, given that the club entered the new year in the bottom three, there has been sufficient progress under his stewardship to suggest that brighter times lie ahead.
For Birmingham, meanwhile, who achieved their highest league finish since 1958-59, this was one defeat that must have felt strangely like a victory.
Bolton manager Owen Coyle:
"It's always nice to win, you want to finish on a high and I think the fans were pleased.
"We had some terrific and inventive attacking play, but then we're a good side.
"We'll do our best to bring some fresh talent in this summer and add to the quality we already have."
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish:
"I thought it was a good game between two teams who played a lot of good football.
"Before Bolton scored, we should maybe have been ahead, but Bolton are very tough.
90:00+5:35 The referee blows for the end of the match.
90:00+3:53 The official flags Ivan Klasnic offside. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
90:00+3:25 Close range effort by Ivan Klasnic goes wide of the right-hand upright.
90:00+2:30 The assistant referee signals for offside against Cameron Jerome. Indirect free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
90:00+1:38 Fabrice Muamba fouled by Christian Benitez, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Zat Knight.
90:00+0:20 Stuart Holden takes a short corner.
89:33 Substitution Ricardo Gardner on for Jack Wilshere.
88:32 Foul by Chung-Yong Lee on James McFadden, free kick awarded. Free kick crossed right-footed by Keith Fahey from left channel,
blocked by Gary Cahill.
87:55 A cross is delivered by Jack Wilshere.
86:16 Corner from the left by-line taken by Keith Fahey, clearance by Paul Robinson.
85:59 Corner from the left by-line taken by Keith Fahey, clearance by Zat Knight.
85:23 Paul Robinson concedes a free kick for a foul on Lee Bowyer. The free kick is swung in left-footed by James McFadden.
84:53 Kevin Davies gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Roger Johnson. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
83:31 James McFadden concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Wilshere. Shot comes in from Jack Wilshere from the free kick.
82:59 Foul by Barry Ferguson on Kevin Davies, free kick awarded. Paul Robinson takes the direct free kick.
81:33 Stephen Carr concedes a free kick for a foul on Stuart Holden. Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
80:17 Booking Gretar Rafn Steinsson receives a caution for unsporting behaviour.
78:11 Unfair challenge on Stuart Holden by Stephen Carr results in a free kick. Ivan Klasnic restarts play with the free kick.
76:47 The assist for the goal came from Lee Bowyer.
76:47 GOAL - James McFadden:Bolton 2 - 1 Birmingham James McFadden finds the back of the net with a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Bolton 2-1 Birmingham.
Correction - 76:28 Lee Bowyer takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
76:28 Keith Fahey takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
74:17 A save by Jussi Jaaskelainen from penalty by Christian Benitez. Bolton 2-0 Birmingham.
74:17 Christian Benitez fouled by Jussi Jaaskelainen, the ref awards a Penalty.
73:27 Substitution Keith Fahey joins the action as a substitute, replacing Michel.
73:04 Header from close in by Christian Benitez misses to the left of the goal.
71:20 Stuart Holden concedes a free kick for a foul on Michel. Free kick crossed left-footed by James McFadden from right channel,
clearance by Zat Knight.
70:43 The assistant referee signals for offside against Ivan Klasnic. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
69:35 Effort from a long way out by Stuart Holden goes wide right of the goal.
68:07 Paul Robinson crosses the ball, blocked by Joe Hart.
67:27 The offside flag is raised against Kevin Davies. Joe Hart restarts play with the free kick.
64:27 Direct free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
64:27 Substitution Stuart Holden comes on in place of Matthew Taylor.
64:27 Substitution Chung-Yong Lee on for Vladimir Weiss.
64:27 Substitution (Birmingham) makes a substitution, with Christian Benitez coming on for Sebastian Larsson.
64:27 Unfair challenge on Gary Cahill by James McFadden results in a free kick.
61:21 Lee Bowyer produces a cross.
59:24 Assist on the goal came from Vladimir Weiss.
59:24 GOAL - Ivan Klasnic:Bolton 2 - 0 Birmingham Goal scored by Ivan Klasnic from the edge of the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Bolton 2-0 Birmingham.
58:05 Fabrice Muamba gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer. Sebastian Larsson crosses the ball from the free
kick right-footed from left channel, Jussi Jaaskelainen makes a save.
57:43 Gregory Vignal crosses the ball, clearance made by Zat Knight.
57:03 Ivan Klasnic takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.
55:01 Matthew Taylor has an effort at goal from outside the penalty box which goes wide right of the target.
53:50 Kevin Davies gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Roger Johnson. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
53:21 Unfair challenge on Gretar Rafn Steinsson by James McFadden results in a free kick. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with
the free kick.
52:33 Close range strike by Cameron Jerome goes over the bar.
51:39 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Lee Bowyer.
51:21 Inswinging corner taken by James McFadden, save made by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
51:00 Roger Johnson takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
50:24 Zat Knight gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Cameron Jerome. Sebastian Larsson takes the free kick.
47:10 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michel on Jack Wilshere. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
46:08 Inswinging corner taken by Matthew Taylor from the right by-line, Header from close range by Kevin Davies clears the bar.
45:01 The referee gets the second half started.
45:00+4:13 It is the end of the first-half.
45:00+3:39 Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Save made by Joe Hart.
45:00+3:23 Jack Wilshere takes a shot. Blocked by Barry Ferguson.
45:00+2:14 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Liam Ridgewell by Kevin Davies. Joe Hart takes the free kick.
44:57 Ivan Klasnic concedes a free kick for a foul on Gregory Vignal.
44:53 Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
44:53 Booking Ivan Klasnic receives a caution.
42:54 The ball is sent over by Matthew Taylor, Gregory Vignal makes a clearance.
41:58 Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Matthew Taylor, clearance by Liam Ridgewell.
Correction - 41:18 Booking Roger Johnson goes into the book.
41:18 Booking James McFadden is shown a yellow card.
40:10 Booking The referee shows Sebastian Larsson a yellow card.
Correction - 40:05 Jussi Jaaskelainen takes the direct free kick. Unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Roger Johnson results in a free kick. Jussi
Jaaskelainen takes the direct free kick.
Correction - 40:05 Booking The referee cautions James McFadden for dissent.
40:05 Free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen. Kevin Davies fouled by Roger Johnson, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by
40:05 Booking The referee cautions Roger Johnson for dissent.
Correction - 39:57 The referee penalises James McFadden for handball.
39:57 James McFadden is penalised for a handball.
38:53 James McFadden takes a shot. Save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
37:28 Matthew Taylor crosses the ball from the free kick left-footed from right wing, Cameron Jerome manages to make a clearance.
37:28 Booking The referee books Liam Ridgewell for unsporting behaviour.
37:21 Liam Ridgewell gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jack Wilshere.
35:07 Inswinging corner taken by Sebastian Larsson from the left by-line.
35:03 James McFadden sends in a cross, Gretar Rafn Steinsson gets a block in.
33:38 Unfair challenge on Liam Ridgewell by Ivan Klasnic results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
32:22 Assist on the goal came from Paul Robinson.
32:22 GOAL - Kevin Davies:Bolton 1 - 0 Birmingham Kevin Davies scores a headed goal from inside the penalty box. Bolton 1-0 Birmingham.
31:39 James McFadden concedes a free kick for a foul on Jack Wilshere. The ball is delivered by Paul Robinson,
30:59 Free kick awarded for a foul by Michel on Vladimir Weiss. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Vladimir Weiss from left
wing, clearance made by Roger Johnson.
30:30 Free kick awarded for a foul by Sebastian Larsson on Vladimir Weiss. Paul Robinson takes the direct free kick.
29:51 Ivan Klasnic takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a comfortable save.
28:24 Header by Lee Bowyer from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
27:46 Unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Roger Johnson results in a free kick. Paul Robinson takes the direct free kick.
26:46 Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Sebastian Larsson played to the near post.
25:02 The ball is crossed by Sebastian Larsson.
23:42 The official flags Sebastian Larsson offside. Jussi Jaaskelainen restarts play with the free kick.
22:56 Header from close in by Cameron Jerome misses to the right of the target.
22:12 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Cameron Jerome by Gary Cahill. Barry Ferguson takes the free kick.
21:59 A cross is delivered by Sebastian Larsson, clearance made by Zat Knight.
19:51 Roger Johnson fouled by Kevin Davies, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Joe Hart.
18:46 Booking Caution for Lee Bowyer.
18:20 Unfair challenge on Roger Johnson by Kevin Davies results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Joe Hart.
15:55 Foul by Lee Bowyer on Kevin Davies, free kick awarded. Shot comes in from Matthew Taylor from the free kick. Shot from outside
the box by Zat Knight goes wide right of the target.
Correction - 15:46 Booking Lee Bowyer goes into the referee's book for unsporting behaviour.
15:19 Jack Wilshere produces a cross, Matthew Taylor takes a shot. Joe Hart gets a block in.
13:18 The ball is swung over by Matthew Taylor.
12:48 Kevin Davies is ruled offside. Roger Johnson takes the free kick.
11:29 Gregory Vignal challenges Gretar Rafn Steinsson unfairly and gives away a free kick. Gretar Rafn Steinsson crosses the ball
from the free kick right-footed from right wing, Michel manages to make a clearance.
6:44 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kevin Davies by Roger Johnson. Free kick taken by Paul Robinson.
5:43 The assistant referee flags for offside against Cameron Jerome. Indirect free kick taken by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
2:50 Michel takes a shot. Comfortable save by Jussi Jaaskelainen.
1:22 Effort from the edge of the area by Lee Bowyer goes wide of the right-hand upright.
0:00 The ref blows the whistle to begin the match.
Live text and data provided by The Press Association.
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