Bolton 1 Birmingham 0: Allardyce left in limbo after Bolton miss out on Europe

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The Independent Football

Bolton boss Sam Allardyce was left to reflect on a rotten week in his managerial career.

Overlooked for the England job, he saw his side miss out on a place in Europe and Newcastle's victory against champions Chelsea means the Magpies will go forward into the Intertoto Cup.

Bolton were in the frame at one stage for a Champions League spot. A UEFA Cup place looked more than possible.

But a run of five straight defeats threw them off track. Yet considering their limited fan base they have much to be proud of.

Ricardo Vaz Te grabbed the winner after stepping off the bench to out the finishing touches to a miserable season for relegated Birmingham.

The home side began brightly and Stelios Giannakopoulos tried to release Hidetoshi Nakata in the ninth minute.

However, the Japan midfielder's first touch was poor and the ball drifted out of play.

Kevin Davies almost put Bolton a minute later when he got on the end a cross from Giannakopoulos only to head wide.

Birmingham were being backed by a vociferous band of fans but you could sense a lack of confidence throughout the team.

They looked content to sit back and try and hit Bolton on the break with DJ Campbell being joined by Emile Heskey up front.

Bolton were enjoying the majority of possession and Gary Speed tried to pick out Davies with a long throw in the 22nd minute.

But Northern Ireland goalkeeper Maik Taylor showed good anticipation to make the save.

Birmingham broke quickly in the 28th minute and Campbell delivered a good cross into the area.

Nicky Butt was well positioned but he seemed to take his eye off the ball and the chance was lost.

Bolton again found themselves on the back foot three minutes later when the pacy Jermain Pennant strode forward.

He released Campbell, who had made a good run. However, the former Brentford striker's lack of experience showed as he scuffed a shot from 20 yards wide of the post.

This was a good spell for the visitors, who are exiting the top flight after four seasons.

Giannakopoulos was working hard, though, switching flanks from time to time to try and make the breakthrough.

The Greece winger swung in a corner in the 42nd minute and Ivan Campo got in a header that was cleared to safety at the last minute.

Heskey then got into a good position after 51 minutes only to find himself crowded out.

A minute later Campbell saw his effort blocked by the alert Jaaskelainen.

Allardyce decided to switch things around in a bid to make the breakthrough. He brought on Jay-Jay Okocha and Ricardo Vaz Te for Nakata and Campo.

Birmingham were beginning to look quite lively and Pennant tried to release Mario Melchiot only to put too much weight on the ball.

Bolton responded and Nolan tried to test Taylor from distance but Butt made a crucial block.

There was an edge to the game that had not been there previously.

Davies then hooked the ball into the path of Henrik Pedersen but his volley from close range was comfortably taken by Taylor.

Bolton made the breakthrough in the 65th minute through Vaz Te.

The Portuguese striker got on the end of a cross from Kevin Nolan to execute a clever finish at the back post.

Vaz Te, 19, has found a bit of form at the end of the season as that was his third league goal of the campaign - he also found the target against Middlesbrough last week.

Davies should have extended Bolton's lead in the 82nd minute but with only Taylor to beat directed his shot wide of the target.

The Birmingham shot-stopper then did well to block shots from Vaz Te and Jared Borgetti late on.

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