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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 3 Rotherham United 2

BOLTON 3 ROTHERHAM 2 Where to start...as the whistle for half time shrieked I anticipated this report would have to include the same old cliches, accounts of hard luck stories and the continuation of our malaise with the team, Freedman and with the club that we love. Well, guess what? We won. Yes, we won a game and in the end, we might have just damn deserved it too!

Hat-Trick Hero
Hat-Trick Hero
Marc Iles

The right changes from Saturday's dismal effort seemed to have been made as Neil Danns and Craig Davies replaced Liam Feeney and Chung-Yong Lee and so the much vaunted two up front was back. Rotherham United lined up with a familiar name up front of ex-Blackburn striker turned journeyman Matt Derbyshire alongside ex-Leeds hitman, Argentinian Luciano Becchio.

The match started at a pretty decent pace with a chance for Darren Pratley, a Joe Mason deflected effort that hit the side netting, and an inswinging Jay Spearing cross that evaded a mass of bodies in the area. The drive and intention to actually get shots away was in stark contrast to the lifeless display we all witnessed on Saturday.

Pratley had another fizzing shot blocked on the edge of the area as Wanderers pressed impressively for an opener. Then, slowly but surely the familiar pattern of misplaced passes, defensive uncertainty and increasing tension set in. After some neat play and possession resulted in a few corners for Rotherham the culmination of this period was set piece specialist Anthony Wordsworth's deflating clever free-kick that drifted in at the far post beyond Lonergan's despairing dive on 33 minutes.

Some huffing and puffing ensued with Danns and Spearing firing long range efforts wide and tamely via a deflection into Adam Collin's grateful grasp before half-time arrived with the whistle greeted by the expected cacophony of boos from the more vocal element of the home faithful who were clearly at breaking point.

Not many of us expected the chaos the second half would bring. The restart brought an immediate chance after Craig Davies won a battle of brawn with Arnason to fashion a good chance just inside the area for Mason who drove low and firm but straight at Collin's feet. An unlikely name nearly provided some unexpected cheer soon after when Tim Ream took a diagonal on his chest and cut inside to fire a weak shot saved at the near post.

Then, on 55 minutes the potential turning point of our season occurred as diminutive scouse midfielder Paul Taylor drove into space and unleashed one from 25 yards which Lonergan was nowhere near but bounced back off the post to the relief of everyone of Bolton allegiance inside the Macron Stadium. A second goal here would have turned a frustrated atmosphere into a poisonous one and this may have been the slice of luck that has been deserting us.

Almost immediately Dougie Freedman brought width on to stretch the Rotherham defence in the form of Chung-Yong and Feeney for the unfortunate Pratley and ineffective Danns. Almost immediately the change paid dividends, though more by luck then design as Mason took Mark Davies' lay off and fired smartly home low into the right corner out of nothing from 22 yards to get the Trotters back on level terms, and not before time.

Chungy then spurned a chance created by Feeney's strong, direct running after his initial chest control took it away from him on the left side of the area.

Feeney himself then had a shot saved as the tempo was visibly raised. Another chance went begging when Chung's driven centre was nearly turned into his own net by full-back Frazer Richardson.

Eventually the much craved second goal arrived on 80 minutes through Mason's clever glancing header which soared into the corner of The Millers net from Spearing's excellent corner delivery.

The story was not over though as immediately Rotherham pressed and harried the ball off the Wanderers midfield and record signing Jordan Bowery found space after a flick on to drill his shot into Lonergan's left corner to restore parity. The Millers substitute scoring less than two minutes after Mason's apparently match winning strike. The crowd collectively scratched their heads at the amount of space he was afforded so deep into the box and the time the young forward had to pick his spot.

Before the fans could even prepare to vent their anger at the team, Freedman, the board...a hat-trick, your kingdom for a hat-trick.

Not for 12 long years since April 6th 2002 and Fredi Bobic's treble that downed Ipswich had we witnessed a Bolton player scored a treble. That he isn't actually our player mattered not one jot as after Collin's weak punch after a Spearing free-kick was flicked on by Mills, Mason caressed the ball on his chest beautifully before volleying into the ground and thankfully the net via a sprawling last ditch attempt to clear from a Rotherham defender. The ripple of the net provided pure ecstasy.

Delight almost turned to despair yet again unbelievably as first Mason missed a one-on-one opportunity when firing past the post after Chung won the ball on halfway and then when a fizzing centre was turned home by the offside Bowery. The sigh of relief was palpable as the assistant referee's flag was raised.

Then Chungy weaved his way round some tired Millers' challenges and scooped cleverly through for Mason to surely add a stunning fourth goal to his tally but composure defeated him as Collin made an admittedly smart stop from a chance he really should have netted.

There was still somehow time within the five minutes added for Collin to come up for a corner in Sunday league style and plough into Lonergan, resulting in the ensuing goal being disallowed and another few minutes of agony for the Whites to endure while Lonergan received treatment for the foul.

Then the final whistle and pure unadulterated joy. Yes, joy at scraping a win over unglamorous Rotherham at home.

Of course there were problems. Tim Ream was woeful at times, turned inside out and clearly unable to cover the right side of the defence with the adaptability he showed at left back. Understandable really as he is left footed, not a difficult one to fathom. The defence was left exposed too many times and for extended periods we looked just as bereft of creativity and ideas in midfield and up front as we did against Sheffield Wednesday.

Positives were there though, a fighting spirit, substitutions that were made with enough time to make an impact and then actually did and someone who actually located the net; not once, not twice but three flipping times. Joe should have had six tonight really so we must have created some chances in fairness!

If we can't break away from our moaning, our apathy towards the regime and our general disgruntlement with everything Bolton right now to celebrate this maddening, enthralling and chaotic win then we may as well give up supporting and take up Sudoku instead.

Because this is why we watch football and why we support this crazy club of ours.

Onwards to Molineux!!