Saturday 10th February.
I suppose that I should be pleased when Town manage to take a
point from the Reebok stadium, but pleased I am not. When you’re
at the lower end of the table, Lady Luck doesn't always smile and
today she positively frowned on Town.
Jamie Vincent was again strangely absent from the 16 on duty today
further fuelling speculation over his future at the club and in
his absence, Steve Jenkins took the unaccustomed left back role
with Adie Moses partnering Chris Lucketti in central defence, Jon
Dyson presumably not recovering sufficiently from injury to warrant
a start. Heavy rain during the morning put the fixture in some doubt,
but a 2.00 pitch inspection allowed the game to continue and the
soggy conditions seemed to act as a leveller between the two sides.
Almost immediately from the kick off Bolton went on the attack but
Town’s makeshift defence stood firm and suddenly we took an unexpected
In Town’s first meaningful foray into Bolton territory Kevin Gallen
latched onto a Facey flick on, but Bolton keeper Banks (not Gordon)
managed to turn his effort around the post for a corner. Banks could
only punch Thornley’s resultant corner weakly as far as the lurking
Martin Smith who without hesitation lashed an angled ball into the
back of the net from left side of the 6-yard box. I could hardly
contain my joy as I had expected a 90-minute rearguard action yet
here we were taking the lead so early in the game. Chances were
being created at both ends of the pitch but Bolton found Nico Vaesen
in top form and didn’t seem to have come to terms with the first
goal when we added a second.
Steve Jenkins played a long ball from the half way line towards
the Bolton penalty area where Kevin Gallen cleverly touched the
ball past the Bolton keeper who had raced off his line to intercept.
The ball ran towards the dead ball line with Gallen in pursuit and
the striker played a sweet side footed shot from an impossibly tight
angle into the back of the unguarded net. I really couldn’t believe
that after just over 20 minutes of play we were 2 goals up, and
I was beginning to get the feeling that another Nottingham Forest
and Watford result might be on the cards.
The pitch was a mud bath and so far the Town players had coped
far better with the conditions forcing Bolton manager Sam Allardyce
to make a change in the 28th minute to try to turn things around,
with Marshall replacing Warhurst, and again in the 37th minute when
Nolan was replaced by Gardner. The game was an end-to-end affair
and Nico Vaesen needed to pull off a blinding save just 2 minutes
after Town’s second goal to deny Nicky Summerbee and he again had
to be at his best to deny Bo Hansen then Robbie Elliott just before
After the break, Bolton had the edge but few clear cut chances
as Town looked to protect their 2-0 lead and most of Town’s chances
seemed to fall to Facey who was working hard but having a poor day
with his shooting. When our opponents hold a 2-0 lead the game always
seems dead and buried, but time moves slowly when we have the lead
and there is always that nagging feeling that the opposition will
score at some stage.
Once again this proved to be the case when on the hour mark a corner
from the left was played short to the edge of the penalty area and
Gudni Bergsson headed the resulting ball into the box powerfully
past the helpless Vaesen from 6-yards out. There is more spirit
in the side these days and Town had a glorious chance to go 3-1
up and probably ensure the points were coming east of the Pennines.
After 65 minutes Thomas Heary played a ball down the left channel
to the on-rushing Delroy Facey only to be upended in the penalty
area as he prepared to cut in towards the goal. For a number of
years now we have been awarded precious few penalties and only one
so far this season that was missed by Kevin Gallen at Loftus Road,
so Craig Armstrong volunteered himself for the task. Armstrong has
been practicing penalties in training and having been successful
at Boston United a couple of weeks earlier probably felt confident
based on the fact that both teams contain the letters B, O, T, O,
N. The keeper only received a caution for the foul guessed correctly
and although the ball was hit powerfully and accurately he managed
to get both hands to the shot and knock it over the bar.
Bolton began to lift their game in search of an equaliser with
Gardner hitting the woodwork, and Ricketts shooting wide when in
a good position to score and as the minutes ticked slowly by, Town
looked to have withstood the late onslaught. In the last minute
of the 4 minutes stoppage time Bolton were awarded a highly questionable
free kick when Chris Lucketti was involved in an aerial challenge
with Marshall and was harshly adjudged to have handled the ball
even though it looked like ball to hand rather than hand to ball
and in the referee’s eyes it was a free kick.
With every Town player behind the ball the free kick duty fell
to Per Frandsen who chipped the ball accurately over the defensive
wall, just under the bar and into the back of the net past the despairing
dive of Nico Vaesen to break the hearts of both players and supporters.
Within seconds of the restart the referee blew the whistle for full
time. The players were absolutely incensed as they and assistant
manager Joe Jordan surrounded the referee but it was too late and
the damage had been done and we would have to settle for a point,
extending our unbeaten run to 10 games.
With none of the other teams in the relegation dogfight winning
this result wasn’t too bad, but we really must start converting
some of these draws into wins to put the relegation nightmare behind
us. With 17 games remaining I think we need 7 or 8 more wins to
ensure survival, but at the moment we are drawing too many for comfort.
Never mind, if we play against Gillingham next week with the passion
we showed today we ought to be able to reduce that win target by
Our ever present, never present substitute goalkeeper Martyn Margetson
lost his proud record today when he fell victim to illness and the
reserve goalkeeper for Town today was youngster Phil Senior. It
looks as though we won’t see Clyde Wijnhard play again this season
according to the Examiner tonight. He is shortly to have another
operation on his badly broken arm to remove a pin and perform another
bone graft. It always looked possible that he would play again this
season at some stage, but this looks to have put this notion to
bed once and for all.
Bolton Wanderers 2 (Bergsson 59, Frandsen
TOWN 2 (Smith 6, Gallen 22)
Position in table – 21st
Town – Vaesen; Heary; Lucketti; Moses;
Jenkins; Armstrong; Thornley (Gorré 90); Holland; Gallen (Dyson
85); Facey; Smith. Subs not used – Senior; Gray; Irons.
Bolton Wanderers – Banks; Bergsson; Warhurst
(Marshall 28); Elliott; Frandsen; Hanson (O’Kane 80); Farrelly;
Nolan (Gardner 37); Ricketts; Hendry; Summerbee. Subs not
used – Sommer; Passi.
Referee – Colin Webster (Durham). Attendance