Newcastle 1-1 Bolton: Underwhelmed

sturridge v newcastleThis is certainly not a bad result. However, underwhelmed for me is the word that describes the entire game. As a whole, it was alright but not sparkling. Individual performances didn't look bad, but nor was I impressed. We managed to put on a lot of pressure, especially in the second half, but we never fully took advantage of the forty odd minutes we spent with an extra man. It's hard to pick out what exactly was wrong, and I know in my head that it's not a bad result, but it's hard not to be disappointed. The match wasn't wholly mediocre though, as Danny Sturridge fired home, getting his fourth goal in four games. Except for several nail-biting moments, our defense was decent, which is more than I expected from this thrown together back four. There was movement in our midfield, and even some nice moves, although much of it was ended by a sloppy pass to a man in the wrong shirt. But let's get into specifics...

The match didn't start well for us Wanderers, with Newcastle seeing the better of the play early on. This culminated in Kevin Nolan (of course it was Less-Than-Super Kev) scoring off a completely unmarked header at 13 minutes (video below). While it was a good cross in, Nolan should never have been alone in such a dangerous area. The period that followed was mostly Newcastle's with Best in particular looking dangerous. But, in the 38th minute a certain Danny Sturridge had a streak to keep up. Our little loaner collected a fine Elmander pass on the edge of the box and struck it home to even up the score. This seemed to remind Bolton that they are actually supposed to be playing a game, and after that we were improved. Halftime came with most stats just as even as the score.

The second half was an improved one for Bolton. Ryan Taylor was sent off in the 54th minute for a tackle on Elmander. While I've seen better tackles, a red was perhaps a bit harsh. The extra man did lead to a dominant Bolton midfield, attacking for most of the half. In spite of this, we didn't really look dangerous. As soon as we got near the box, we lost our heads and sent hurried, sloppy balls everywhere, more often than not to the wrong team. We looked the better team, but didn't really test Harper at all. We never really took full advantage of the extra man. My heart sank when Newcastle put the ball in the back of the net in added time, but it was rightly called back for offside. Shortly after, the whistle blew on an undistinguished second half.

In the end, it's a pretty fair result, with neither team really looking significantly better. A point away to Newcastle isn't bad, but it's hard not to think that on a different day, Bolton would've actually looked like they were a man up. We're now in 7th, which would have elated me last season, but I feel unsatisfied. It was by no means a bad game, but it wasn't good either. Coyle should see this as a spring board, a benchmark to improve upon next week when we're at home to Villa.

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