Football: FORSS IS WITH US; Bruce's Blues Ride Their Luck after Mikael Hits the Winner BOLTON..............0 BIRMINGHAM.....1 Forssell 31
Byline: KEN LAWRENCE
STEVE BRUCE'S team of workaholics gave the perfect illustration of how to take the lead - then hold it - as they maintained their presence among the Premiership's more glamorous clubs.
For almost an hour after Mikael Forssell made the most of Christophe Dugarry's sophistication and Bolton's one defensive blunder, City were subjected to an increasingly desperate onslaught.
But for the eighth time in 10 games they kept a clean sheet and if this season of surprise is to bring them a place in Europe, then they have the fortress mentality to cope with that, too.
Since the start of Bolton's campaign, and for much of last season, Sam Allardyce has complained that his team do not have the concentration to see out games. They got the perfect lesson yesterday.
It is perhaps not unsurprising that Birmingham are so good at defending in depth and in numbers. Manager Bruce was the best uncapped central defender of his generation.
The knocks he took - and there were many - only affected his looks. They did not damage his ability to store up information and organisational skills for the day he took over his own team.
While Bolton huffed and puffed, Blues keeper Maik Taylor had to make only one save of note. It was a quite brilliant one at that, as he forced himself airborne to deflect Kevin Davies' excellent strike two minutes after Forssell had scored.
But City did have some luck. Wanderers had no fewer than five claims for a penalty.
The most obvious, denied them by referee Chris Foy, came when Kenny Cunningham clambered all over Davies. But there was no whistle and two minutes later Birmingham broke forward, Dugarry controlling expertly before darting between Simon Charlton and Bruno Ngotty to set up Forssell for the winner.
Allardyce didn't whine, despite the failed penalty claims, saying: "Taylor's save certainly won them the game - or at least cost us our unbeaten home record, which hurts. …