American Exports: Jonathan Spector, Birmingham City escape relegation on dramatic late goal
AMSTERDAM – Several Americans clocked in for closing day in the English Championship, with Jonathan Spector helping Birmingham City claw back from two down with 12 minutes to play for a 2-2 draw at Tim Ream's Bolton that was enough to see them avoid relegation.
Despite sliding over to right back, Spector still managed to ring up nine clearances to go with several effective long passes into attack. Nikola Zigic got the Brums within one 12 minutes from time, leaving the stoppage time heroics to Paul Caddis, whose equalizer earned them the point needed to escape the drop on goal differential.
Ream matched Spector's solid effort with one of his own at left back for Wanderers, who finished in 14th place. The Bolton Player of the Season led all players with three shot blocks, including a line clearance of a late Zigic header that only temporarily kept the hosts ahead.
Around the league, Zak Whitbread made his Derby County loan debut on the last available day, working a strong full shift in central defense in a 1-1 draw at Leeds United.
The Leicester City defender posted game highs with both nine clearances and three blocked shots. Whitbread also saw yellow as the Rams finished third to set up a promotion-playoff semifinal date with Brighton.
Oguchi Onyewu picked off a game-best eight passes in a decent showing, but it was not enough for 16th-place Sheffield Wednesday to avoid a hard-luck 2-1 defeat at Ipswich Town.
Though he was partially culpable for an early Daryl Murphy breakaway, the Tractor Boys forward let them all off the hook by striking the woodwork. Onyewu & Co. rallied, with the USMNT veteran also logging seven clearances and a booking.
Meanwhile, Daniel Williams missed out with a nagging knee injury as Reading slipped out of the last promotion playoff place despite rallying for a 2-2 home draw with Burnley. Due to a stoppage-time winner by Brighton & Hove Albion, the Royals fell two points short of reaching the postseason.
Duane Holmes went unused as Huddersfield Town finished 17th in the table after a 4-1 victory at Watford.