This match was a real stomach punch for the good guys. Bolton Wanderers played great for the first seventy minutes or so. They were very organized in defense and posed some threat going forward. Keeping the shape and being disciplined defensively are things that Bolton don't normally excel at, but for large parts of today's match, they did.
The first half was really a defensive duel, with a few half-chances, but both backlines holding firm for the most part. Adam Bogdan and Tim Krul had little to do except collect a few corners. Bogdan did punch one cross off of Samuel Ricketts' head, but it bounded out for a corner which Bogdan controlled without incident.
Bolton came out strong in the second half, with Chris Eagles and Darren Pratley both having decent chances. Eagles did great work in the box, but just couldn't place his shot and Krul saved easily. Martin Petrov, who may grab another Man of the Match award, put in a brilliant cross that Pratley was inches away from nudging into the net. keep reading to find out where it all went wrong.
Things looked to be under control, and I think most of us Bolton supporters would have taken a 0-0 draw away at Newcastle. But then Sam Ricketts fell down at midfield. Hatem Ben Arfa got the ball and started a run up the center of the pitch. Mark Davies was in pursuit until he tried a absolutely stupid sliding tackle from behind. Stupid because he had no hope of getting the ball. If he had just kept running he would have caught Ben Arfa in a few yards, you know, because you run faster without the ball than with it. Also stupid because if Davies had connected with Ben Arfa it would have been at least a yellow card, possibly a red. At any rate, Tim Ream and David Wheater both waited for the other to stop the Frenchman, and he eventually just ran in between the two of them. Bogdan, perhaps because he was expecting one of his central defenders to defend, was slow to come off his line, and Newcastle were ahead 1-0.
At that point, for all intents and purposes, the match was over. Owen Coyle brought on David Ngog, Ryo Mayaichi, and Ivan Klasnic, switching to 4-4-2 in the process. Newcastle scored a second on the counter attack. That was it.
It would have been nice to pick up a point here, but given our respective positions in the league table, a loss away to Newcastle is not the end of the world. Bolton now have 12 days off (I hear they are going to Dubai), followed by a big match back at the Reebok against Swansea City. They are in 14th, but 10 points clear of the relegation zone. Bolton will need a result.