Posted by Admin - Thu 1st March 2018 5.09PM
When the January Transfer Window closed, Bolton looked like a team in trouble.
Top scorer Gary Madine was sold to Cardiff with no target man brought in as a direct replacement. Fans were treated to a return of Zach Clough to the Macron, albeit on loan, yet pessimism was at an all-time high coming into their first February fixture against high flying Bristol City.
Having made the headlines for brilliant performances against Manchester City and Manchester United in cup competitions, not much was expected from Bolton coming into the game.
The Whites almost went a goal behind within the first five minutes as Alnwick clattered into the City attacker in the box. Despite the clear foul, the referee waved against a penalty.
Despite being on the back foot for the majority of the game, Bolton produced the best chance of the first half. Sammy Ameobi, playing central as opposed to his natural wide position, picked up the ball from his own half to start a counter. After beating three defenders, his curling effort, which looked destined to hit the top corner, skimmed the post.
It was Bolton who claimed the only goal of the game in the second half when, after dealing with a City corner, Ameobi ran the length of the pitch to run before powering a low ball into the bottom corner.
Bolton displayed a brilliant defensive performance in the face of seemingly relentless Bristol pressure with Mark Beevers and David Wheater producing stand out performances.
Rain greeted Bolton’s return to the Macron as they faced Fulham. The difference in ability between the two sides was evident as Fulham opened the scoring early on.
A Ryan Sessegnon cross was headed back across goal into the path of Matt Targett who scored from close range.
Zach Clough had two of Bolton’s best chances in the first half. A curling effort almost caught out the Fulham keeper at the near post, while a good bit of play by Ameobi set up the young striker but his shot was straight at the Fulham keeper.
Clough was replaced by Adam Le Fondre, and within two minutes of his introduction he produced a Goal of the Season contender.
A long ball from Alnwick was flicked on by Robinson into the path of the striker who took it on the half-volley and wrong-footed the Fulham keeper.
Both teams pressed for an equaliser but the scores remained level.
Bolton travelled to QPR for another game against decent opposition. The Whites have had a terrible away record in the Championship, yet they started strongly when a Josh Vela corner was met with a glancing header by Derik, forcing the QPR keeper into a save.
At the other end, Ben Alnwick produced a string of strong saves, including one with his feet .
Bolton almost opened the scoring when an Ameobi free-kick was met by the head of David Wheater, forcing the QPR goalkeeper into a good save.
The game changed dramatically when Mark Little was shown a straight red card for a late tackle, forcing Bolton to play more conservatively, inviting pressure from the London club.
QPR opened the scoring through Joel Lynch. A deep free-kick was headed back centrally, where Lynch was able to meet the ball, rising highest from close range.
The Hoops doubled their lead late on as Bolton pushed forward in search of an equaliser when a cross across the face of goal was met by the head of Matt Smith who headed in from close range.
Bolton returned to the Macron for a relegation six-pointer against fellow strugglers Sunderland.
For a game which both teams needed the points, the quality of football that was produced was poor.
The Whites opened the scoring in unorthodox fashion in a goal which shouldn’t have stood. After being awarded a free-kick, Filipe Morais whipped in a cross towards the near post. Clough met it with what looked to be his arm BUT, DESPIRE Sunderland’S protests, the goal stood.
Ashley Fletcher came close to equalising soon after when he beat the offside trap, he was through one-on-one with Alnwick, but the keeper produced a brilliant stop. The striker found himself in a good position later on, but could only find the side netting.
Le Fondre was once again brought on and caused the defence problems. First, he set up Ameobi for a curling effort on the half volley which was narrowly wide then he found himself with a free header in the box but his connection was weak.
Bolton held on for a vital three points in the relegation battle.
The Whites then travelled to Carrow Road for a difficult game against well performing Norwich. Bolton were fielding a weaker team due to injuries and suspensions which, coupled with their poor away form, looked set to end in disaster.
The game quickly turned into a highlight reel for Ben Alnwick who was the sole reason as to why Bolton remained in this game. The keeper was bombarded with efforts from the Canaries, which he dealt with tremendously.
Bolton struggled to get a grasp of the game, failing to register a single shot on target. The Whites were merely able to witness Norwich constantly attack and rely on Alnwick to keep them in the game.
Despite a poor performance by the team as a whole, Bolton were able to ride the relentless pressure and come away with an important point from a tough opposition.