Bolton boss Owen Coyle paid tribute to his side’s fighting qualities after they scored a thrilling 3-2 FA Cup quarter-final win over Birmingham.
Substitute Lee Chung-Yong headed home a late winner at St Andrew’s on Saturday, after Birmingham had twice fought back from a goal down.
Johan Elmander slotted home a cool left-foot shot past Ben Foster after 20 minutes, but Birmingham hit back through Cameron Jerome.
Kevin Davies then put the visitors ahead until Kevin Phillips produced a superb long-range strike to level proceedings once more. But Lee’s late heroics secured Bolton’s first berth in the semi-finals of the FA Cup since 2000.
Coyle said he was delighted with the never-say-die attitude of his men.
“Both teams went all out to book their place in the semi-final and we showed great character and determination to claim the victory,” he said.
“We have to give great credit to Birmingham because they kept coming back. “
“Having got 2-1 in front, we should have scored a third with the chances that we created, but then you get Kevin Phillips doing what he does best by magnificently converting what seemed like a half-chance.”
“However, we picked ourselves up to get the winning goal. It was a great knock-down by the skipper (Kevin Davies) and a super finish by Chung-Yong.”
“It would have been very harsh not to have won it at the first attempt. We showed a lot of quality and endeavour, and at times we had to stand up and be counted, but each and every one of our players did that.”
“It was an example of the great spirit and resolve that underlines how we play and our approach to every single game.”
“All in all it’s a great day’s work and we are delighted to be in the semi-finals.”
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish was disappointed by the loss, but said it would mean his men – who won the Carling Cup with a 2-1 win over Arsenal at Wembley in February – could now devote their full attention to staying in the English Premier League.
With nine games still to play, Birmingham are fourth from the bottom, with only goal difference separating them from the relegation zone – something McLeish is keen to amend.
“We’re now concentrating on getting further up the league,” McLeish said.
“I don’t feel as bad as I did last week after the West Brom game (a 3-1 league loss at home) but at the same time it hurts me to lose any football match.”
“You could see from that performance that the players were trying to make history a second time and get to Wembley again.”
“It wasn’t to be, it was a tough Bolton side. They had just about their best team so that was a magnificent effort by our lads.”