After a disappointing end to March, it seems as Bolton Wanderers are back on track for the promotion battle, getting their 7th home win in a row, and 5th home clean sheet on the trot. Fortress Reebok is back on the map, and a comprehensive 2-0 win over Wolves, along with sympathetic results around the league, have pushed Bolton just 2 points away from the coveted 6th place.
As Bolton seem to be in the habit of doing these days, the original Wanderers got off to a dream start at the Reebok. Just 3 minutes in David Ngog put the home side ahead, scooping up a fumbled ball from Dorus De Vries and fired home. Just 7 minutes later, Marcos Alonso doubled the lead. A long drive from Medo Kamara took a deflection and fell nicely for Alonso, who had no trouble shooting past the off-balance De Vries.
This start set Bolton off on the right foot, and the men in white enjoyed dominant possession throughout much of the first half. In the 12th minute, Wolves had a chance but Kevin Doyle's header went easily over the cross bar, which would be one of Wolves' few chances of the half. Shortly after, Chris Eagles rued his right foot, as he pounced on a loose ball in the Wolves box but sent it just a few inches wide of the post.
In the 31st minute Marvin Sordell was unlucky not to get his name on the score sheet, but Alonso's low shot was cleared before he could get to it. A few minutes later Karl Henry tried his luck to lower the deficit, but his long range shot went well over the cross bar, causing Bogdan no trouble. In response to Bolton's dominance, Wolves moved to a 4-5-1, and the added muscle in midfield seemed to do them well.
The match went to half time just as Wolves were beginning to find their feet, but they came out of the break with all of the purpose they had before the whistle. The five man midfield served the visitors well, and effectively ended the Bolton dominance that ruled the first 45 minutes. In spite of letting them get a foot back in the game, by and large Bolton defended well and limited their chances.
Just after the game restarted Ngog nearly had a brace, but he took too much time after running clear into the box to get his shot off and Karl Henry was able to clear. The game was largely a midfield battle, without much action in either final third, until the 64th minute where Adam Bogdan, who replaced in-form Andy Lonergan, had his first real test of the match. Doyle put a powerful header on target, but Bogdan athletically managed to tip it over the bar.
Chris Eagles sent a pinpoint perfect cross into the box in the 77th minute, but substitute Craig Davies was unable to get to it before De Vries blocked. 3 minutes later the Trotters came close again, as a Sam Ricketts cross was deflected off the Wolves crossbar. Just a minute later, Wolves had a chance of their own as a poor header from Craig Dawson nearly fell perfectly for Adam Hammill, but Bogdan managed to block competently.
In the final 5 minutes of the match, it was pretty clear that it was Bolton's afternoon. Wolves struggled to clear in a goalmouth scramble, but managed to stop Ngog from scoring. 2 minutes before the end of regular time, Medo Kamara took a shot from 25 yards out which went only inches wide of the post. Medo had a fantastic game, proving himself an able replacement for Darren Pratley. 3 minute of additional time passed without incident, and the match finished 2-0.
It was a great performance from the whole team today, and the scoreline probably should have been higher. Medo and Spearing make an excellent team, while Chung-Yong Lee and Chris Eagles both seemed to have found some earlier form. While the defense was not busy by any means, they proved capable when tested (with the excetion of the Dawson back header). Ngog and Sordell both had some very good moments, but Ngog in particular did lack a certain killer instinct. Overall the Wanderers seem well equipped going into the final games of the season.
Not only did Bolton get a crucial 3 points this afternoon, but all of the results around the original Wanderers fell beautifully. Bolton are still in 8th, but they are separated from Leicester now by goal difference only, and are just 2 points away from 6th. Bolton face bottom place Bristol City next weekend, and a win there would provide a vital cushion going into the final, tough set of fixtures.