McLeish hails big win

03 April 2011 09:30

Birmingham boss Alex McLeish hailed a "big, big result" for his side after they beat Bolton 2-1 at St Andrew's to catapult themselves out of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

Veteran Blues striker Kevin Phillips made the most of being handed his first league start of the season by opening the scoring in the fourth minute, Craig Gardner made it 2-0 just before the hour mark and although Johan Elmander pulled one back for Wanderers, Blues held on for three precious points.

McLeish said: "It was a game we felt we really had to win. I don't like to use that term 'must-win' because what if you don't? Do you throw the towel in? But it was a big, big result for us. When everyone knows that to win will be a big, big result, it heaps the pressure on, but they have responded magnificently."

McLeish reserved special praise for England goalkeeper Ben Foster, who kept out Bolton's on-loan striker Daniel Sturridge on numerous occasions over the 90 minutes and produced further saves to deny Kevin Davies and Gretar Steinsson in the dying moments.

"He had a brilliant game," McLeish said.

"Ben is not going to keep everything out for us during a whole season but today he certainly helped us to get two points that we may have lost."

Bolton manager Owen Coyle was also keen to acknowledge the difference Foster had made.

"I think Birmingham started the game far better than us and we are certainly disappointed with the first goal we lost," Coyle said.

"But we did and if the truth be told, I think for 20 minutes they then controlled that first period. After that in the first half it was all us and they were playing on the counter-attack, but Foster was outstanding.

"He made two particularly outstanding saves from Sturridge in the first half, but that is why he is a top-class international goalkeeper - he is there to make those saves."

Source: PA