Coming into today, Bolton had played midweek games in consecutive weeks, and we all know Dougie Freedman is a big fan of squad rotation, so it was quite a surprise when the manager only made one change from the starting XI he used on Tuesday. Chris Eagles scored a winner very late in the midweek match, and he was rewarded with a return to the first team.
In another shock, Kevin Davies kept his place, and I, along with my fellow Lion of Vienna Suite writers, engaged in lively debate about this decision on Twitter, the Viennese cafe of the 21st century. Davies was a non-factor in the first half, which was an end-to-end affair. Both sides created good chances in the first three minutes, and continued to attack for the first quarter hour. It was back-and-forth, good stuff for the neutral fan, and entertaining for the home supporters as well. After about 20 minutes Brighton created a very good chance and hit the bar.
The rebound off the woodwork led quickly to a Bolton counter attack. Chung-Yong Lee ended up with the ball on the left side, and drove down the pitch before releasing Marcos Alonso. Alonso found space at the edge of the box and let a shot fly with his left foot. It was low and hard and past the keeper. Bolton led 1-0.
The game calmed down a bit after that. The Seagulls held more possession in the midfield, but Bolton always looked far more dangerous on the counter attack. Both sides had a few chances, and Bolton just about edged it, barely earning their 1-0 halftime lead.
No changes at the half, of course, and the second started much like the first, with end-to-end attacks. Brighton & Hove Albion had a good spell the first ten minutes after the break. They created chances, but nothing came from it. Manager Gus Poyet got impatient round about the 60th minute, and he made three substitutions in quick succession, the last changing the formation, and leaving Albion with three at the back. Freedman responded by taking off Chris Eagles, who had looked dangerous in the first half but faded after the break. Medo Kamara came on.
Things got a bit scrappy after that. Kevin Davies left the pitch having contributed little, and Craig Davies made his entrance with 15 minutes to go. But Bolton's defense was starting to struggle a bit. Lee got a yellow card for two bad challenges, and Zat Knight gave away a cheap free kick in a good position. Nothing came of it, but Bolton's 1-0 lead did not look very convincing, as Brighton were definitely on top at that point. It didn't last though.
The pace of the match seemed to catch up to the south coasters after the 80th minute. Will Buckley was lively, but he was the only one who seemed to have anything left. Bolton dodged a bullet when Brighton missed an open header on the 85th minute. David Ngog came off for David Wheater, as Bolton were very anxious to maintain another clean sheet, and more importantly, a fifth win on the trot.
At the 90th minute, almost on cue, the energy returned for both sides. We once again had end-to-end action. Lonergan nearly spilled it, but managed to control. Wanderers had a header saved from a counter attack. Late drama was looking likely. Bolton supporters were demanding the final whistle. Brighton won several corners one after another. And then the drama came; Red Card! Ashley Barnes was sent off for Brighton & Hove Albion.
The sending off took the final sting from the tail, and Bolton held on for three points. The fifth win in a row brought the Trotters up to eighth, only three points out of the final playoff spot. The Dougie Freedman Revolution has finally taken hold. Come on Bolton!