Familiarity breeds boredom – Bolton report

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Bolton 1-1 Latics
Saturday 4th February 2006

It’s difficult to pull the pieces out of a draw at the Reebok. Not least having already seen Bolton off twice this season, albeit at home. With a return to the 4-5-1 formation that seems to restrict us as much as the opposition, maybe a draw was the best we could hope for. No matter what you might think about their style of play, there’s no doubting that it’s effective and there are better teams than Latics that will come away from their games here with less than we did.

Following on from Tuesday’s bitty game at the JJB, this was another drab affair. Bolton being as Bolton are and Latics’ midfield struggling to look anything more than hardworking, chances were at a premium. Even before the game the smart money would have been on the first goal winning it. Stellios’ smartly finished effort, early in the second half should have been enough but that doesn’t account for Latics’ famed spirit.

Johansson’s equaliser would never win any goal of the month competitions, but is notable all the same. Picking up the rebound from Zeigler’s free kick and slotting it home sounds simple enough but, firstly we managed a free kick that troubled the keeper and secondly had someone prepared to gamble that it would happen in the first place. Watch our goals across this season and see how few fit that bill. In fact watch some free kicks as well and you’ll see that when a shot is coming in, our players tend to wait and see what happens rather than taking the chance.

A late flurry of bookings saw Chimbonda collect his 5th for the season, ensuring his absence from the Liverpool tie next Saturday. I’ve never actually seen the fair play table, that were allegedly topping, but a spate of bookings on top of the sending off last week must be threatening that position. I don’t suppose that matters too much, two draws on the bounce have pushed us forward a little closer to the mythical 40 points and results elsewhere keep us in a good league position.

On the positive front, Latics finished the game much stronger than Bolton, a feat in itself following 9 games in the last month. On balance though, Bolton would we rightly disappointed to lose this one, Latics pleased with whichever way you look at it is a good point. On the negative, there are question marks over Mellor’s ability to fill the role he will have to over the next couple of games, there are plenty of reasons why this might be but I’m predicting that come the Man United league game we’ll have another Simon Haworth (in every definition of the term) on our hands. I hope I’m wrong.

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