The match kicked off under a blue sky in Horwich with Super Mario’s 3 match suspension meant a start for Andreas Granqvist in the heart of Latics defence, apart from the centrebacks inclusion it was an unchanged line-up and Marcus Bent had a early chance but headed wide from a Boyce cross. Then after only three minutes and Latics conceded another early goal, a header from Paul Scharner deflected passed a bemused Chris Kirkland.
Offsides for both teams ruled the roost & just after ten minutes Andrew O’Brien was booked for a foul on Emile Heskey, a couple of minutes on from that and the much maligned Dutch maestro Denny Landzaat got Latics on level terms with a 25 yard strike that left Jaaskelainen or any other keeper with no chance.
After ten minutes of nip & tuck in the middle of the park, the home side gained a corner and Kilbane handled the box. Referee Martin Atkinson had no option but to award a spot kick but the Premierships leading scorer one Nicolas Anelka blasted the ball into row Z much to the delight of the away faithful.
However villain Anelka turned hero by easing his way down the wing to cross for Bolton’s talisman & Captain Kevin Nolan to cheekily back heel the Trotters in front, while Latics defence took a early Christmas break.
As the half came to a close Jason Koumas was a shade unlucky with a free kick that nearly brought Latics level for a second time, Bolton went in at the break a shade lucky to be 2-1 ahead, great first half entertainment, alas a bad score line for the likes of us.
Latics started the 2nd half well with six corners in 3 minutes, Jaaskelainen making two quality saves to keep the lead intact then went down injured to ease the pressure on the under siege whites.
Eventually the home team hit back and Anelka and Campo had shots blocked by Scharner, also Diouf had a header blocked by Boyce, the pressure told and Antonio Valencia was booked for a foul on Gardner, his first of the season.
El-Hadji Diouf crossed in for Kevin Davies to slide in a third killer goal, again Latics defence seemed to stand & watch the action, a severe lack of concentration perhaps ?
Emile Heskey was replaced by Michael Brown just after the goal on 70 minutes, while Jason Koumas tried to stamp his authority on the remaining fifteen minutes and Danny Guthrie was booked for his trouble in stopping the Wigan midfielder.
Austrian midfielder Paul Scharner was felled in the box but the ref waved away Latics appeals for a spot kick, Boltons penalty miss was well & truly forgotten by the home fans when Anelka scored from inside the six yard box to seal a 4-1 defeat.
Latics defence needs a serious overall by Bruce, to many stand and watch while Kirkland is well exposed, perhaps Chris needs to organize the defence better, he does seem a little quiet on the verbals.
Both full back positions need addressing, playing a centre half is ok for an emergency substitution but to have an attacking midfielder on the other side is soccer suicide.
The team needs to compete and that includes Scharner & Landzaat who need to take a close hard look at their performances and attitude.
To many players @ Latics are ex-Premiership journeymen with nothing to prove to themselves, long gone are the days when we had hungry for success players from a lower standing with points to prove.
The likes of Scottish International Lee McCulloch springs to mind.
With Middlebrough & Spurs both winning to-day & Reading yesterday the clubs in the drop zone are getting stranded with an ominous gap now beginning to appear.
Attendance @ thebok 20309 Referee Martin Atkinson
BOLTON: Jaaskelainen; Hunt, Meite, O’Brien, Gardner; Guthrie, Diouf, Nolan, Campo; Anelka, Davies.
LATICS: Kirkland; Boyce, Bramble, Granqvist, Kilbane, Valencia, Landzaat, Scharner, Koumas; Heskey, Bent. Subs: Pollitt, Taylor, Brown, Cotterill, Skoko.
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