Sport Soccer

Friday 23 March 2018

Johnson goes from hero to zero as Bolton nick point

Bolton 2
Birmingham 2

Peter Gardner

RARELY can Roger Johnson, the Birmingham defender, have endured a more eventful 90 minutes than he did yesterday at the Reebok Stadium, where he became a virtual man-of-the-match for a variety of reasons, two of them highly controversial.

Having given Birmingham the encouragement of a flying start with a goal after just four minutes, Johnson was deeply involved in the acrimony surrounding the reckless sending off of Jussi Jaaskelainen, the Bolton goalkeeper.

Finally, he conceded the penalty that ignited a Bolton fightback in which they wiped out a two-goal deficit to take a point from an engrossing game in which both sides preserved their unbeaten starts to the season.

Birmingham were heading for a second successive league victory after Craig Gardner had doubled their advantage five minutes into the second half, Cameron Jerome heading a James McFadden cross from the left back across the face of goal.

In act one for Johnson, he finished a splendid four-man move involving McFadden, Lee Bowyer and Jerome. Act two came when he clashed with Jaaskelainen, the Finland goalkeeper foolishly raising his hands after a 36th-minute altercation with the defender.

Jaaskelainen rightly received a red card -- his offence equally warranted a penalty which was not given -- and Johnson received a yellow after further confrontations with Martin Petrov. Johnson finally completed act three when he pushed Kevin Davies, and the Bolton captain climaxed a prodigious afternoon's work with the 71st-minute penalty that halved the deficit. Robbie Blake completed the fightback with a sublime 81st-minute free-kick.

Even then Birmingham had the chance to redeem their generosity but Jerome was denied by Jaaskelainen's replacement, Hungarian Adam Bogdan, enjoying his first Premier League action.

Birmingham manager Alex McLeish, reflected: "It was like three points lost, a defeat. We are sore and hurt about the manner in which we lost the goal. If you are going to see penalties, I hope they are consistent. I hope we get a few like that." He was equally dismissive of the free-kick for Blake's equaliser and added: "I hope the referee watches the game again to see where he went wrong. He would then be able to explain why the penalty and free-kick were given."

Owen Coyle, his opposite number, had no complaints about Jaaskelainen's dismissal. He said: "I hope he can learn from it. But we picked ourselves up with 10 men and deserved a point." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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