Bolton suffer their 10th defeat of the season
Winning was the only option for The Wanderers who desperately needed three points to stand any chance of rising above the dreaded relegation line. The dull weather seemed apt for Bolton league position with the drizzle filled, floodlit air representing recent miserable results. Determination was key for The Wanderers; a winning attitude and lively start.
Indeed Bolton showed instant promise with a shot within a minute of referee Oliver’s first whistle blast but alas Kevin Davies’s shot rose harmlessly over Tim Howard’s bar.
Bolton Wanderers continued to look like the likely candidates to score first for the first 15 minutes or so. Chris Eagles and Ivan Klasnic combined well, and frequently, as Bolton attacked mainly via the left wing. Occasionally a long central ball would meet Kevin Davies’s head only to be flicked on to where he thought Klasnic should have been. A look of puzzlement on Klanic’s face often greeted Kevin once the ball had been cleared, unfortunately they seem to be on a different wavelength.
Everton did create chances too leaving Bolton to defend a series of three corners in quick succession, all of which were defended well but increased the heart-rate of many a Trotter fan 10 minutes into the match. The pressure was released by a Leighton Baines foul on Wheater from which the resulting free-kick led to Ivan Klasnic forcing Tim Howard to make a save with an attempt from outside Everton’s penalty area.
Then disaster — David Wheater was shown an instant red for a regrettable tackle on Diniyar Bilyaletdinov. Wheater failed to control an Everton clearance to the half-way line and lunged at the ball as Everton’s number 7 ran in. No intent to cause a foul, just blind panic after a bad touch gifted Bilyaletdinov the potential of an unobscured run down the left wing. A straight red seemed harsh—I am not even sure if contact was made—but hopefully a valueble lesson has been learned by 24 year old Wheater.
With Bolton down to ten men, Mark Davies dropped back into defence and credit must be given to The Wanderers who stayed in the game but were forced to make more long passes to bypass the midfield. Chris Eagles forced another save, while the constantly booed Bilaletdinov tested Jussi Jaaskelainen. Another test for Jussi came fairly late in the first half when he saved Johnny Heitinga’s shot created by an Everton free-kick. Moments later Bolton had a chance to equalise from a free-kick but Chris Eagles’ shot was blocked, the half ended goalless.
Having to play a majority of the first half a man down Bolton did well to leave the pitch at half-time with a clean sheet. However, there was an air of inevitability served by déjà vu.
The second half started with Bolton under pressure and within four minutes of the restart Everton were ahead. With the slightest hint of off-side Fellaini poked a low cross from Baines, which somehow illuded three defending players, beyond a helpless Jaaskelainen.
The deadlock was broken but Bolton remained stoic and continued to launch attacks which all too often ended with wayward passes that allowed Everton to counter attack. Although Klasnic did manage to force Howard to make another save, Bolton begun to look overwhelmed.
As the drizzle continued it was obvious that Bolton were tiring and, once again this season, missing their 11th man. Jaaskelainen was kept busy while Everton’s defence proved impervious to further attempts by Ivan Klasnic.
Baines perhaps should have doubled Everton’s lead on the hour but he scuffed his six yard shot over the bar.
Unfortunately, Everton did eventually score a second. A long ball just beyond Jussi’s left post was acrobatically kicked across the goalmouth by Tim Cahill and struck in by Apostolos Vellios who had replaced Louis Saha less than 5 minutes earlier. The goal proved to be too much for The Wanderers who instantly looked dejected. A number of Bolton supporters decided not to wait for the final whistle, with little chance of The Wanderers getting back into the match they took the opportunity to begin their journeys’ home 10 minutes earlier than usual.
The dying moments of the match were on the whole uneventful; Everton relaxed leaving Bolton to defend. There were a couple of chances for substitute Gretar Steinsson to create a few smiles of consolation, but his shot was blocked, as were his crosses in the final third.
A disappointing result that left Bolton where they had begun the day in 18th position in the Premier League. Something needs to be changed. Whether that change ought to be Owen Coyle is open to debate but his dismissal would surely harm Bolton’s potential to get out of the current rut in which they find themselves.
Bolton face a tough trip to Tottenham next weekend and then it’s back to The Reebok for mid-table Aston Villa on December 10th. A slew of early Christmas presents in the form of goals and points could take Bolton out of the danger zone ready for 2012. Obviously ongoing injuries only add to the challenges Bolton are faced with but deals struck during January’s Transfer Window may be too late to save Bolton from relegation. It pains me to consider that but 10 defeats before December should be setting off alarm bells at The Reebok.