The key to beating Blackburn: get the crosses in and follow the shots

Chris Brunskill

It's a Lancashire derby and Bolton Wanderers want to win and not only for that fact. Should the Trotters take all three points, it will be four wins on the bounce. That is a feat not accomplished by Bolton since the middle of the 2006/2007 season where Bolton beat West Ham, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Newcastle United, and Portsmouth for five in a row. A win would bring Bolton that much closer to playoff contention.

It likely won't be easy though, but there are a few things that the Trotters can do to increase their chances. Blackburn are, to put it nicely, awful at the back. They have not won in five games, losing three and having been held scoreless in three of them. At the weekend, they were down 3-2 at Ewood Park by Peterborough United thanks to a Dwight Gayle hat trick that was completed on just 27 minutes.

In that match, Blackburn's defense was everywhere, gaps were plentiful, and young goalkeeper Jake Kean was all over the place on the goal line.

Peterborough's first two goals were both the result of a complete inability to clear the ball by Blackburn's defense following crosses into the box. With the ball coming in, it legitimately looked like the Rovers back four (consisting of Bradley Orr, Karim Rekik, Scott Dann, and Grant Hanley) had no clue what they were doing. On both occasions, the defenders completely failed to get even a touch on it.

With crosses coming in, it becomes increasingly important for Bolton's attackers to start following their shots in hopes of getting a rebound. The odds are that either the goalkeeper or one of the defenders will get a touch on it. Peterborough's first and third goals were exactly the result of this with goalkeeper Jake Kean making the saves first. Unfortunately for Blackburn, the shots were from nearly impossible to hold on to and as a result, allowed the Dwight Gayle to score from close range.

The story was much the same in their 2-0 loss to Hull City where both goals were again from balls into the box. The first was a diagonal ball over the top with Mohamed Gedo firing from close range without a challenge. The second goal was a cross into the box from the left flank with Ahmed Elmohamady, again unchallenged, firing in from just a yard out.

The good news for Bolton Wanderers is that the team is very capable of doing this. David Ngog followed his own shot against Barnsley to score the opener while Craig Dawson did the same for Marcos Alonso's strike on the winner. The Trotters likely won't be putting in too many lofted crosses, although that did work a treat in the Hull City win when Chung-Yong Lee's ball in found the head of Darren Pratley to open the scoring.

Bolton can also better their chances by scoring early. In the last three games, five of Bolton's eight goals came before the 15th minute. This was the case in the earlier meeting between the two sides at Ewood Park when Kevin Davies scored the first goal on just two minutes.

Three points and doing the double over Blackburn Rovers would be sweet.

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