Photo via Neil Turner
This was an important game. With Blackburn only 2 places ahead of us, a win could be an important boost later in the season, and if it really came down to squeaky bum time, a loss could have grave repercussions. More than that though, it was the first time the Men in White took the field since Saturday, since they watched their teammate go down and fail to get back up again. Thankfully Fabrice Muamba has been steadily improving since his cardiac arrest, but everyone involved was still shaken. This was an important win for the team, in spite of everything that has happened this season, the boys did it for Fab.
It was clear from the start that this match was not going to be a classic. Bolton looked the better side and did string together a few attacks, but as so often happens these days, failed to look at all convincing in the box. Mark Davies and Martin Petrov started what would be a good rapport up the left wing, but many of the crosses into the box were cleared as David Ngog was scrupulously marked. Bolton were a bit lucky to not concede a penalty in the 24th minute, when Gretar Steinsson brought Junior Hoilett down in the box. Hoilett went dozn easily, but it would have been a fair penalty if called.
The break came in the 28th minute when David Wheater, a legend made of chins, scored. Petrov's cross was poorly cleared and returned to him, and when he sent it back into the box the ball found Wheater's head who directed it goalwards.
The goal breathed life into the home side and it was not surprising that Wheater got a second just 6 minutes later. This time Ryo Miyaichi provided the assist; his second in 2 games, as Wheater confidently headed the corner home. After that Bolton were undoubtedly in the ascendancy, and they sailed into halftime looking likely to get a third goal.
As inevitably happens with the Wanderers, the second half went less smoothly. Blackburn looked more agressive and in the 55th minute it paid off when Steven Nzonzi made the third headed goal of the match out of seemingly nothing. Shortly after Mavies looked to extend the lead to 2 goals again, but his header shaved the left post. Yakubu missed by a similar breadth from the 6 yard box. Both sides went for it, but despite some nervy moments at both ends, the match ended 2-1, much to the Wanderers' relief.
It was not the prettiest of matches, it will not go down as a classic, but it was vital. The win today not only put Bolton out of the relegation zone, it provided a huge boost to a team that desperately needed something to smile about. This was the first time Bolton have won two successive matches the entire season. Bolton fans have been looking for The Turn Around for months, and this is looking more like it than ever.