With Bolton on the rebound from a thrashing from United and Latics still fighting to establish their season this was never going to be a classic. As it turned out, it wasn’t even a game for the die-hard. Whether the few who made the trip paid the £36 out of habit or nostalgia is anyone’s guess. A trip to the Reebok is hardly an attractive draw at the best of times but as you head towards November there are more attractive options than sitting in the cold and wet, watching head tennis.
The smart money was on a trip to the local hostelry, at least you’d end up with something for your money, even if it was just a headache either from the hangover or trying to work out the logic behind watching pictures beamed in from the Middle East of an event taking place five miles up the road. That whole situation is worthy of (and will probably get) an article in its own right but, suffice to say, when the stories are that Latics ‘took’ more to Fulham than they did to Horwich something, somewhere is going wrong.
The action on the pitch was everything that is stereotypically Sam Allardyce. Who needs possession when you can play for position? Both teams were guilty of barely even trying to hold on to the ball and Bolton, especially, gave a master class in the myriad of different ways it is possible to win free kicks. As far as Latics go, well at least they showed that they had learnt from the Watford no-show and matched the home team physically.
Either side could have won it, neither particularly deserved it. The home team’s main chances fell to Anelka, who blasted over, and Stellios, who was the only person in the stadium unaware that the linesman had (incorrectly) called him offside. Of course Overly Large Sam concentrated on the officials’ failings after the game, ignoring the fact that Latics had just as many chances and could have been ahead at that point.
Much of Latics’ season so far has been characterised by early goals, usually followed by capitulation. As with the Fulham, this was a reminder of how good it is to snatch a win late on; at least it cuts down the time for a comeback. Landzaat and Kilbane combined to give Lee McCulloch, standing in for the injured Heskey, a chance from 18 yards. A low drive to the keeper’s left and it was 1-0 and a first victory in Bolton for nearly 20 years.
As the final whistle blew one of the little Perms was vomiting in Asda, meaning a quick exit for your writer (from the pub – I’m not made of money) with little chance to celebrate our continuing success against Bolton at this level and our continuing improvement in fortunes. Three wins on the bounce is really an achievement at this level, but with a resurgent Charlton next up at the JJB maybe it was too soon to celebrate anyway.
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