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Bradford survive

Pre-season tour
Gallen signs
Hornets sting Town
Owls shot down
Gray returns
Wijnhard crashes out
Worthington woe
Ayre departs
First home point
Bye Bye Brucie
New manager announced
Fans show anger
9 points to safety
First home win
Ndlovu at first sight
Town leap to safety
Macari wins award
More cup woe
Ndlovu joins Blades
Jamie jumps ship
Town hit rock bottom again
Morris' McApline move
Prodigal son returns
Biggest win
QPR doomed
Nearly there
The bitter end

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 lead.

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 half time.

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 one.

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 90)

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 14,866



All words and thoughts by Chris except where stated.

A big thank you to Machala for putting up with me doing this and Ian for his support and my Mum for her proof reading.

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