In recent weeks Bolton Wanderers supporters have learned to arrive at the park early on match days, because Bolton like to start their scoring early. Today was no different. Roughly eighty seconds into the match Darren Pratley put in what looked like a relatively tame cross. Unfortunately for Bristol City, defender Liam Fontaine's mind was still in the changing room, and he diverted the cross into his own net. 1-0 Bolton.
After the goal, both teams played a bit on edge. The visitors actually dominated possession, but created little more than a few long range efforts. When the home side did have opportunities, they came on the counter attack. Their danger man was Albert Adomah, who caused problems with his pace and trickery.
The first half was not a brilliant display of football. An own goal, pouring rain, and two clubs on the brink of disaster left us with a nervy forty-five minutes. The second forty-five would be much better.
City came out on fire, and their aggressive play turned it into an end-to-end affair. Suddenly, the home side was dominating possession, creating chances, and basically putting Adam Bogdan and Bolton's defense under siege. The goal was clearly coming, and Steven Davies brought them level five minutes after the break.
For a depressing spell it looked as if the sides would share the points which, to be perfectly honest, would not have helped either of them. Marvin Sordell was sacrificed for Craig Davies. Sordell had been active, threatening with his pace, and he put the ball in the net, but it was disallowed, one of the several times the young striker was caught offside.
It was Sordell's strike partner, David Ngog, who made the difference. He was brought down in the box at the 78th minute. The assistant referee actually gave the penalty. Worryingly, Chris Eagles was loitering around the penalty spot with intent. In a moment of clarity, Craig Davies was chosen to take the spot kick. He sent a rocket down the middle and into the roof of the net. City threw forward everything they had for the final ten minutes or so, but Bolton held strong. The win has the Trotters on 63 points, sixth in the table, with four matches left. That's right, sixth in the table. The final playoff spot. The Mighty Bolton Wanderers control their own destiny. Add this to the news that Stu Holden has all but signed a new deal, and it has been a pretty good week for our little Lancashire club.
I posed the question in this week's match preview of whether Dougie Freedman had truly created a new character in this side, or if they were still Owen Coyle's boys, and today the answer was clear. The fourth away win of the season is in the books, and a massive showdown with Leicester City is just days away.