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Saturday, 2 November, 2002, 16:59 GMT
Blues bury Bolton
Birmingham's Stern John (right) and Bolton's Jay-Jay Okocha
Bolton's Okocha (left) tangles with Birmingham's John
Birmingham 3-1 Bolton

Bolton Wanderers remain rooted to the foot of the Premiership after a soggy but valiant defeat at St Andrews.

Birmingham were ultimately easy winners through second-half goals from Darren Purse, Robbie Savage and Geoff Horsfield.

But Bolton, reduced to 10-men on 66 minutes when Ricardo Gardner was sent off, had given themselves brief hope when Jay Jay Okocha levelled at 1-1.

The bottom line is that [referee Chris Foy] was poor, and the sending-off was diabolical
Sam Allardyce
Bolton manager
In a torrential downpour the first half was a largely uninspiring and damp spectacle.

Bolton were denied an early chance when Blues defender Purse blocked Youri Djorkaeff as he was set to unleash a shot.

Birmingham keeper Nico Vaesen's reprieve turned quickly into a call to arms for Bolton stopper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

He was forced to save from point-blank range off Stan Lazaridis following Clinton Morrison's cross from the right.

  Key moments
61 mins Purse scores for Birmingham
66 mins Bolton's Gardner sent off
71 mins Okocha levels for Bolton
72 mins Savage gets Birmingham's second
83 mins Horsfield scores again for Blues
But Purse soon made a second crucial intervention when Michael Ricketts threatened.

The home side's fans were frustrated at the scarcity of openings but they were treated to a brief thrill when Stern John hit the post, though the offside flag had been raised.

But the St Andrews faithful suffered further ignominy when they thought they had won a penalty after Mike Whitlow appeared to catch Morrison but referee Chris Foy waved play on.

Birmingham began on the front foot immediately after the break when John and Aliou Cisse threatened.

Neither side looked much like taking the initiative but they were getting closer as Bolton's Okocha hit the woodwork on 54 minutes.

It was an important win for us - 15 points in the first 12 games is not a bad return
Steve Bruce
Birmingham boss
Seven minutes later Purse stepped out of the mire to give Birmingham the lead, driving low past Jaaskelainen from Savage's pass.

Bolton's afternoon took a further turn for the worse when Gardner was shown red for a foul on Birmingham substitute Horsfield - who had replaced Lazaridis.

But Okocha's equaliser gave them at least the hope of a remarkable comeback.

The dream was short-lived, though, when Savage struck for Birmingham's second minutes later and Horsfield added the third after Morrison's shot had rebounded off the post.

Birmingham: Vaesen, Kenna, Purse, Cunningham, Sadler, Devlin, Savage, Cisse, Lazaridis, John, Morrison. Subs: Bennett, Horsfield, Hughes, Kirovski, Powell.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Mendy, N'Gotty, Campo, Whitlow, Farrelly, Frandsen, Okocha, Gardner, Djorkaeff, Ricketts. Subs: Poole, Nolan, Dean Holdsworth, Charlton, Tofting.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside)

BBC Five Live's Peter Slater
"Bolton were hardly second best"
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce
"The sending off was ridiculous"
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