You've got to hand it to Bolton Wanderers Football Club: they keep you on your toes. Just as you start to believe this is a team that could go somewhere, they stoppered the flood of conceded goals, got a few wins, played some nice football, they prove to you that they are definitely still Bolton by losing to bottom of the table Peterborough 5-4.
It is almost as if Bolton were looking to make this very important match as difficult for themselves as possible. Peterborough came out of the gates running, while Bolton seemed to be tripped up by the extremely wet London Road. Not in the Premiership anymore boys. Posh made their intentions clear within 2 minutes, as Lee Tomlin gave the home side the advantage. Zat Knight misjudged the cross ball, one he should have managed to clear, but instead let roll through to a clear Tomlin, who curled the ball past Adam Bogdan.
Just 3 minutes later, after already having forced a save out of Bogdan, Dwight Gayle doubled Peterborough's lead. The striker took advantage of the ball pinging around Bolton's area, volleying it home. This early double set the tone for the rest of the half, and all things considered the Wanderers were lucky not to concede more. Tomlin and Gayle continued to harry the Bolton defense, as well as George Boyd, who had shots go narrowly above the bar, and to the side of the post in the first 30 minutes.
With a half hour gone, things were looking fairly dire for the visitors, having already amassed 3 yellow cards, and only 33% possession, with no shots on target to speak of. Around 35 minutes in, Bolton appeared to wake up a bit, and began to pass the ball around more, although still displaying a magnificent ineptitude in defense. On the stroke of halftime, a Bolton attack somehow made it's way to the opposition's penalty area, where Sam Ricketts was brought down by a defender. Keith Andrews stepped up to the spot and, showing a rare bit of competence from a Bolton players, sent the penalty home for an utterly undeserved goal. The match went to half time 2-1.
In spite of the fact that something clearly needed to change for Bolton, the same side emerged from the tunnel to start the second period. Once again, Posh made their intent clear early on, as they brought their lead back up to 2 goals within 3 minutes of the restart. This time it was loanee George Thorne who did the damage.Thorne made a strong run, then put an equally strong shot inside the near post.
This seemed to spur Dougie Freedman into making the much needed changes, bringing on Benik Afobe and Marvin Sordell for Jacob Butterfield and Chung-Yong Lee, switching the team's formation from 4-2-3-1, to the more tradition 4-4-2. Initially, this move worked well, as Bolton finally showed some of the attacking play they have plied this season.
Just 5 minutes later, the attack impetus paid off and Bolton won their second penalty of the match, as Afobe was brought down in the box. Once again it was Andrews who stepped up to take, and once again hew converted with a strong shot, making the score 3-2 in the 57th minute. With the win in sight, Bolton continued pushing, Afobe in particular proving a nuisance to the Posh defense. Kevin Davies played the Arsenal defender in with an excellent through ball, and he probably would have scored had he not been tackled.
However, Bolton would not remain this close to Peterborough for long, as in the 70th minute. Mark Little became the 4th man to score for Posh, as he pounced on a cross, unmarked, and sent the ball into the roof of the net. This didn't dampen Bolton spirits and just 2 minutes later, the home keeper Robert Olejnik was forced to tip an Andrews shot over the bar. That was to be his last significant contribution to the match, as Freedman brought him off for Martin Petrov in the 80th minute.
Just two minutes later, Peterborough scored their 5th goal of the match, as Gabriel Zakuani went unmarked at the back post and headed the ball in. The score was then 5-2 to Peterborough with less than 8 minutes of regular time to go. In the 84th minute, Afobe made yet another significant contribution to the match, this time by scoring a goal, managing to put Petrov's cross away.
Two minutes later, Petrov furthered the cause by bringing Bolton within one goal of their hosts, slamming it home to make the scoreline 5-4. Unfortunately, it didn't prove enough as the final minutes of the match ticked away while Posh effectively doused any Bolton fire.
I have been an advocate of patience. It's important to remember that a new manager who comes in with an entirely new system will not be able to turn around a team immediately. It's also true that the Championship is touted as an unpredictable league, anything can happen any weekend, and Bolton have certainly found that out. Keeping all of these things in mind, it is still unacceptable to concede 5 goals to the team sitting bottom of the league, especially considering 3 of those goals were completely unmarked. If Bolton are to retain any hope of making the playoffs this season, results like this need to stop, and they need to stop now.