The Birmingham president, David Sullivan, had said before this game that the club's relinquishing owners would not make a great fuss about their departure after 16 years in control. He kept to his word, and was the only member of the club's outgoing quartet – the brothers David and Ralph Gold and managing director Karren Brady being the others – who attended what is likely to be the final game at St Andrew's before Hong Kong businessman Carson Yeung completes an £88 million takeover early next month which has already been approved by the Premier League.
Unfortunately for the current owners, Birmingham's players also did their bit to keep the occasion as low-key as possible. Aside from a final 10 minutes unexpectedly rich in drama considering what had gone before it, the Sullivan-Gold dynasty is petering out with a whimper, and home supporters who during the game vented their frustration at manager Alex McLeish's decision to play most of the match with just one attacker, Christian Benitez, drifted away after the final whistle in a melancholic mood.
McLeish is almost certain to lobby Yeung for funds to strengthen his squad in January's transfer window. His priorities will be in attack. Birmingham struggled to make headway against a resolute Bolton defence after the Israeli midfielder Tamir Cohen headed Wanderers into a 10th-minute lead with his third goal in four Premier League games since his summer move from Maccabi Netanya.
McLeish revealed he has yet to meet his new bosses but hopes to make contact with the incoming chief executive, Sammy Yu. Said McLeish: "I'm not apprehensive. I'm full of anticipation and looking forward to working with the new owners. I'm disappointed that we switched off at such a crucial time and the players are learning some harsh lessons about being in the Premier League. For the two minutes after we equalised it was almost as though they were in a trance."
Birmingham looked to have won a point when Kevin Phillips exchanged passes with Benitez before drilling home an 84th-minute equaliser. But it was Bolton's Lee Chung-Yong who had the last word two minutes later after Matt Taylor's free-kick came back off the post.
It was the South Korean's first League goal since his summer arrival from FC Seoul and atoned for a dreadful miss and for giving the ball away in the build-up to Phillips's goal.
"He's such a lovely lad," said his manager, Gary Megson. "He apologised profusely for giving the ball away for their equaliser and he'll learn from that. He's getting stronger and better and helped turn the game when he came on during our Carling Cup win over West Ham on Tuesday.
"I'm disappointed that we did not put the game to bed when we were 1-0 up; we sat too deep, and were our own worst enemies in letting Birmingham back into it."
Referee: Steve Bennett
Man of the match: Benitez
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content