Late Goals Cost Seasiders Yet Again
Can I just say that I think that Ian Holloway is wonderful? Yes, there are times that he makes me cringe, but the way that he has transformed our football club has been nothing short of magical.
However, I can't help but feel that he has to take a large portion of the blame for us throwing away a two goal lead at the Reebok this afternoon.
Why? Well I (and everyone around me) could see that some of our lads (Gary Taylor-Fletcher most notably) were beginning to tire with around twenty minutes to go and that some fresh legs were required to help see us home. Not only that, but I genuinally feel that had Matt Phillips been thrown on at that stage, then his pace and skill would have seen us continue to pen Bolton in and cause them more problems than they caused us in the latter stages.
As it was, Ollie held off from making any changes until Bolton had pulled a goal back, but Martin Petrov's wonder strike saw the hosts wrestle control of the game from the Seasiders and build up a head of steam that was to culminate in Mark Davies rescuing a point for the hosts after finishing off a wonderful move at the death.
Now you might say that Petrov's strike came from nothing, and you'd be right. Then again, he was allowed a free strike on goal from the edge of our area, and as Ollie pointed out in his post-match interview, someone should have closed him down. Why didn't they then? Tired legs perhaps?
Davies' late goal was cruel on the Seasiders who had run their opponents ragged in a wonderful second half display.
It was Bolton who were the better team in the first half though. They have come on leaps and bounds under Owen Coyle, and their brand of football caused the Seasiders problems at times, but our defence held firm.
On the half hour, the Seasiders took the lead against the run of play. We never score from corners do we? Well, we did today. Twice.
Interestingly, Elliot Grandin was on corner duty today, and it was his cross that was met by Ian Evatt at the near post, who, in turn, directed the ball into the top corner at the far post with a great, confident header.
The goal seemed to breathe life into the Seasiders as an attacking force, and Gary Taylor-Fletcher blasted the ball over the bar just minutes later after a great move. He should have done better, mind.
Charlie Adam came closest to adding a second for the Seasiders in the first forty five; his shot from just inside the Bolton half going agonisingly close with Jussi Jaaskelainen beaten.
In the second half, the Seasiders upped the tempo.
As much as Ollie wants us to play like Barcelona and Spain and stroke the ball around until an opening appears, I think that we always look far more dangerous when we play with a quick tempo and really go at the opposition.
And by doing just that, we ran the hosts ragged for large parts of the second half.
Our pressure finally told just before the hour; Luke Varney converting Grandin's corner despite Bolton's best efforts to clear the ball on the line. Watch out for his celebration by the way; he seemed to be imitating a chicken!
Varney nearly grabbed a second with another header just moments later, but the ball just went over the bar.
DJ Campbell then missed a great chance to seal the victory. The striker yet again did everything but score in another excellent display that saw him cause Bolton's defence countless problems despite referee Mike Dean's lack of protection for him everytime the Bolton backline pulled his shirt and grabbed hold of him. Hopefully he can rediscover his goalscoring form soon as he's a massive player for us and his lack of confidence in front of goal is really beginning to tell; Charlie Adam had to lift him up off the floor after his latest miss.
With fifteen minutes to go, Petrov scored. Cue a Bolton resurgence.
Kingson saved well from Mark Davies, Kevin Davies missed a sitter and Stephen Crainey cleared off the line before Mark Davies snatched a point at the death.
We've now dropped six points by conceding goals in the final minute of games. Add those six points onto our total, and we'd be on 25 points - just five wins short of the magical 40 point mark and safety; a milestone that everyone - especially those who wrote us off in the summer - are coming to realise and accept would be richly deserved.
So lessons to be learned for everyone, and hopefully we'll learn them quick; it's Man United next and they won 7-1 today...