Bottlers 1 Battlers 3
Date: Sunday 22nd April 2007"A football mugging that," I heard one bloke say to his mate on the way out after yesterdays debacle. In real life mugging terms I'd equate it to those Crimestoppers adverts where one bloke tells the thief where he is leaving his phone in the bar when he is off for a piss. A gift of 3 points by our calamity defence is probably how I will remember it. The game started at a fast pace - Bolton had probably their best centre back pairing on show in Ben Haim and Meite, which was useful as Doyle and Kitson looked quite handy in the opening exchanges. After 10-15 mins of end to end stuff with not much excitement other than a decent chance for Diouf Hunt made a great tackle on the edge of our box to stop a Reading attack, but injured himself in the process. Big Lubo Michalik came on with Ben Haim switching to centre half. As the game restarted, Reading were snapping away at our midfield, with Nolan in particular looking uncomfortable. We struggled to create any worthwhile chances; a few hopeful punts to Anelka here and there and a couple of corners wasted (Bolton are good at set pieces apparently). Diouf was making a nuisance of himself as ever and got into an argument with Readings own version of our El-Hadji - Steven Hunt (famous for kicking Peter Cech in the head, but because he's English he was 'committed' - wonder what would happen if Dioufy had done it?) after a theatrical dive won him a free kick. About 5 minutes later karma got its own back on Dioufy, and chasing a ball he pulled up with an injury. So on came Tomo Thompson. The game restarted, and was petering out to half time when Nolan went in for a ball with Duberry, he seemed to jump into it and looked like came out having snapped something. We were well into injury time at the point and on the attack - ref Howard Webb in bizzare fashion deemed it time and just left Nolan in the middle of the park. Webb had done his best to ruin the game thus far, blowing up for piddly little free kicks in the centre of the park but ignoring all Duberrys blatant climbing on Davies. He is probably the ref I can't stand the most, a true little Hitler, thinks everyone is there to watch him move the ball back 5 yards, but miss key decisions. He really helped ruin a bad game. I would love to write more and more about the sad self loving bastard but that would be giving him the attention he craves. He can’t be blamed for the last 10 minutes though. So all 3 subs on in the second half, and how would tired players like Speed cope? Not very well it would seem. The first 20 minutes of the second half however we were a different team . Thompson really impressed, nearly netting with a clever chip and setting us off on our attacks. Stelios had come on for Nolan in his preferred forward role, and he looked back to last seasons form, unlucky to be met by a great bit of goalkeeping from Hahneman when put through. A goal was going to come, and it did in the end - a great piece of chest control by Andranik into Davies' path, who played a sweet through ball to Tomo who in turn laid it ff for Anelka to stick it away via Nicky Shoreys leg. This then became the period of the game where we should have made the most of our superiority, Reading’s shaky back four (Useless De La Cruz was not tested enough all game) and our resurgent midfield and forward line. Davies made some good breaks down the right, but his crossing let him down. Andranik and Tomo both got themselves into decent shooting positions, but it wasn't to be. 80 minutes rolled over on the scoreboard... And then panic stations - the Bolton self destruct button was being pressed. Reading got a corner and an almighty goalmouth scramble which we managed to clear - just. Then Ben Haim went walkabout, through ball to Doyle and Meite made a stupid challenge. Penalty to Reading. Despite Tomos comical attempts to put Doyle off by popping a balloon, Doyle made no mistake. The Berkshire massive went crazy. Jussi carried on time wasting, which seemed to piss off our fans a lot - we should be going for three points not clinging on to one. But Jussi knew best, a couple of minutes later and it was all over - Speed, Michalik, Meite, Ben Haim all forgot about marking on a cross. It took ages to come down, and Doyle eventually put it home. Disgraceful defending. Bolton then had to chase the game, Speed was exposed again (but a fit Gary Speed would have done better) and 4 Bolton defenders stood around in the box while the cross came over for the villain of the show Steve Hunt to head home. It doesn't get much worse. A real shame for players like Davies and Tomo who had given their all and played pretty well in all truth - they should be the ones dishing out the bollockings to Meite, Ben Haim etc. But they won't. We can blame the ref, the bad luck with injuries as well, but ultimately we threw the points away, again. We're dropping points and sinking faster than the Titanic, the fact we are 6th now will make it all the worse when in a couple of weeks and a probable couple of defeats later we are out of the top 7 and relying on other teams to beat teams above to get into Europe. A couple of years ago I'd have fancied Bolton to go all out against the odds at Chelsea and snatch something, fight and battle like Reading did yesterday for it, but they won't. We look really toothless at the moment. Even the improved second half doesn't provide any cheer. With any luck we will get Tomo signed on and in the team for the rest of the season - Nolan is probably going to be out for it now which may well be a blessing in disguise. Player Ratings Jussi - 5 – Can’t really say he was at fault for the goals but his time wasting didn't help and he had no real saves to make Hunt - 6 - He made a decent challenge and went off early doors Gardner - 6 - The best Bolton defender, but that’s not saying much. Ben Haim - 5 - Can be blamed in part for all 3 goals, looked uncomfortable out of position. Meite - 4 - Didn't cope well with Doyle all day and had a nightmare at the end. Speed - 4- Looked ok first half but in the second noticeably tired and gave the ball away countless times. Nolan - 5 - Usual performance from captain fantastic until he got himself injured going for a 50/50. Andranik - 6 - Not his best game but looked really sharp in the 30 minute spell in the second half ehen we bossed the game. Davies - 7 - Poor Kevin, fouled left right and centre by Duberry and got nothing out of the bastard ref. Great through ball for the goal. Anelka - 6 - Not the Elks strongest performance, and perhaps could have done better with the chance Hahneman saved. Diouf - 7 - Was looking good until he got injured, a big miss now for the rest of the games. Michalik - 6 - Coped much better with Kitson than Ben Haim before him, but struggled when Reading changed it round. Promising start but not a good game to make your debut in when the defence collectively lost their heads. Tomo - 7 - Looked good. We should try to sign him on. He may want first team football however and not sure if BSA will guarantee him a spot. Stelios - 7 - Much better from the Greek, in his preferred position.