You look at the fixture and on paper, Bolton should have been in the fourth round by some margin. A Premier League club travelling to face a League Two side should really be no contest. That wasn't the case as Bolton took on Macclesfield Town at the Moss Rose where a Trotters side that didn't start caring until the 60th minute made the Silk Men look a bit like the teams at the top of Spain as their passing more or less carved the hapless Bolton team apart. Luckily, it wasn't all bad for Bolton but to see what that's about, you'll just have to hit the jump.
It started off well enough where Bolton actually did some work from set pieces with the game's first goal coming from a corner. After a header in the box, the ball found Darren Pratley who managed to do something decent for a rare change by putting the shot on target. His shot was right at the keeper though, so it wasn't all good. Jose Veiga, the keeper, made a good first stop but the ball bobbled out to Ivan Klasnic who was in the right place at the right time and tapped home from all of ten yards out.
Adam Bogdan put in some great work in the first half as his defense literally crumbled around him. His first big stop came after Arnaud Mendy skipped through the back line and took Bogdan on one-on-one. The second came after a Colin Daniel shot that forced a diving stop out the Hungarian. The Silk Men did not take the goal lying down and when their heads could have easily sunk, they took the initiative and put it Bolton with a 15th minute equalizer by way of Colin Daniel. The Bolton defense was once again in shambles as literally everyone was caught out of position and Colin Daniel easily put it into the back of the net.
It all turned upside down in the second half as Arnaud Mendy put Macclesfield ahead in the 68th minute by way of an absolutely stunning strike. With the defense pressuring him, he (maybe accidentally) flicked the ball up, turned, and hit on the volley into the corner past an outstretched and diving Adam Bogdan. Seriously, look at the goal. Immaculate.
The Bolton midfield was nearly as poor as the defense with a largely useless Darren Pratley in the center of it. He had a decent moment here and there but his shift was largely comprised of mistakes, poor ball control, and even worse runs that got in other midfielders way. It was only when Mark Davies came on for him and Kevin Davies was taken off for David Ngog that the team finally started to care. Sparky was brought down 35 yards outside of goal by a Macclesfield challenge which gave Martin Petrov the opportunity to take the free kick. The winger, whose work rate on both flanks throughout the match was impressive, sent an inswinging ball into the box where David Wheater rose highest in the box to meet it with his head and send it into the side netting at the far post to bring it back at 2-2.
Bolton had a few more real chances to win it late with efforts scuffed by Ivan Klasnic and David Wheater but arguably the best shout for a winner came from another Martin Petrov free kick. Mark Davies was once again brought down, this time on the edge of the box. Petrov sent in a curling free kick destined for the top corner at the far post and there looked to be no chance that Jose Veiga would reach it but it wasn't Bolton's night as the shot smacked the crossbar and went to safety.
The defensive frailties were once again exposed with the majority of the blame being handed to Paul "left for dead" Robinson. Robbo was often out of position and when he wasn't, he was slipping and sliding on what looked to be a seriously muddy pitch. Without Robinson covering his left flank, it forced Zat Knight to play the entire left side of the defense which is a pretty big ask for the center back who has had his own defensive problems recently. Joe Riley returned to the lineup and put in a good 90 minutes on the right side.
We'll bring you updates as soon as a replay date and the fourth round draw are announced.