Bolton Wanderers did a thing they don't usually do today: rescue a point from a bad game. Usually the men in white tend to drop points when they really should score more, but this time they managed to contain a good Brighton side to just one goal and game back at the last minute. The performance should definitely lead Dougie to ask some questions of his side, but there is no arguing with the draw
It was always a weird lineup, but I was willing to give Dougie Freedman a chance with this one. Unfortunately, it was a weird lineup that just didn't work for Bolton Wanderers. The team started normally enough, with the back four of Tyrone Mears, Matt Mills, Zat Knight, and Stephen Warnock. However, defender Tim Ream started as a holding midfield, alongside Darren Pratley. The attacking triangle was made up of Chris Eagles, Mark Davies, and Benik Afobe, while David Ngog sat on top as the lone striker. While this did seem to shore up Bolton's defense a bit (or at least keep them from conceding more), it did absolutely stifle any offensive movement.
Brighton emerged as the dominant side early on in the match. The home side earned a penalty in the 14th minute, as Craig Mackail-Smith's shot caused a Darren Pratley handball. Ashley Barnes, who was making his 100th appearance for Brighton, stepped up to the spot, but his shot prompted a fantastic save from Adam Bogdan, and his rebound only got more of the same.
Bolton survived that, but it only added gas to the Brighton flame, and just four minutes later, they managed to hit the woodwork twice in the space of one minute, the first being a shot from Andrea Orlandi which hit the post, the second a Dean Hammond shot which forced Bogdan to hit it to the crossbar.
While those were the most frightening moments of the half for Bolton, things didn't let up for the Wanderers. With 28 minutes gone, that statistics said it all, Brighton leading the possesion 61%-39% and the shot count 9-1. Mackail-Smith continued to bother Bolton, and his header tested the crossbar, which once again proved to be solid. In the end, Bolton were lucky to enter the break with a clean sheet.
Surprisingly, Dougie Freedman did not make any changes immediately after halftime, and only 8 minutes after the restart Brighton's deserved goal came. Bruno Saltor took a shot from just outside the box and it dipped out of Bogdan's reach. This seemed to wake Dougie, who made a double substitution just a few minutes later, bringing on Kevin Davies and Jacob Butterfield for Benik Afobe and Darren Pratley.
Butterfield managed to lend a bit more offensive chances to Bolton, but Brighton were still undeniably the better side, and Orlandi in particular cause quite a bit of trouble. But it was to be David Ngog who saved Bolton's blushes as he equalised nearly 6 minutes into stoppage time. The Frenchman sent the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the goal, with Chris Eagles assisting.
This was not a match to be put on Bolton highlight tapes, but it is a good away point against a decent side. Freedman should have the freedom to experiment a bit with his team, but it is safe to say that this particular experiment did not work out. It is onward and upward for Bolton now, as they will be going on to face Blackburn on Wednesday.