Bolton Wanderers won their FA Cup Match against Blackpool FC 2-1 last week on the strength of an attacking 4-4-2 formation, or so some of the supporters would have you believe. Manager Dougie Freedman downplayed the likelihood of continuing to employ two strikers during the week's buildup, but there they were on Saturday, ready to welcome Nottingham Forest to the Reebok with a double-barreled front line.
In other team news, last week's Man of The Match Medo Kamara was dropped to the sub's bench in favor of Jay Spearing. Chris Eagles also made way for Chung-Yong Lee. Somebody somewhere is now complaining about Dougie Freedman the tinker man. It's true, he does make a lot of changes, but I don't think he should be faulted for it. Truthfully, he thinks it is the best way to prevent injuries, and I agree with him. Rotating Lee and Eagles, not to mention Andre Moritz and Mark Davies, seems a good way to keep them fit and fresh as the season goes on. But enough about the personnel, on to the match.
This was an attacking, end-to-end affair from the very beginning. Both sides created several early chances, although most of them were from 15-20 yards out. Most notably, Davies had a good effort saved by Forest keeper Karl Darlow. Andy Lonergan was also called into action for Bolton, and he made a critical leaping save of a good header that was destined for the back of the net.
Bolton then almost went ahead. Davies, Lee, and Jermaine Beckford were involved in a brilliant passing move that finished with a sliding shot from the South Korean going wide of the target. Unfortunately, this would be Beckford's last action of the afternoon. He went off with an injury, possibly a knee injury. The club should be making a statement on Monday, but let's hope it is not serious. We're not a prolific scoring club, so we certainly can't afford to lose the man who leads us in goals this season.
Bolton had been the better side in the first half, and were unlucky not to have a lead. Then Forest scored from the second half kickoff. Ok, not quite from the kickoff, but it felt like it. Halftime substitute Simon Cox played a good through ball into the path of Jamie Paterson. Paterson had been allowed to run in behind the defense and was easily onside. Lonergan rushed forward and tried to cut off the angle, but Paterson finished well with a nice little chip.
The home side were down 1-0, but this is when they really took control of the game. There were several good scoring opportunities, most notably for Lee (who seemed to have finally found his shooting boots) and David Ngog. In the 75th minute Bolton won a free kick ten yards outside of Forest's penalty box on the left side. Moritz, who had come on for Beckford, put in a beautiful curling cross, and Matt Mills got free for a good header. The Trotters were level, and easily deserved it.
That was when the time-wasting started. The Nottingham Forest players must have had dinner reservations or something, because they were really anxious to get out of the Reebok Stadium. In fact, there were a staggering six minutes of stoppage time at the end of the second half. Bolton were frantically driving forward for a winner, and it almost bit them in the arse.
Henri Lansbury, who had been pegged as one of the "danger men" coming in, had a quiet afternoon for the most part. When he finally got a shot off towards the end of the match, it was a horrible effort on goal, but a great pass. Sub Darius Henderson got on the end of it and his sliding shot caromed off the post. To Wanderers' horror, the rebound fell at the feet of Andy Reid, who let fly with a well-hit shot on target. All looked lost for the home side. But no! Lonergan once again leapt to action and made a miraculous save. What could have been three points lost became one point earned.