Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

  • March 24, 2012 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton brought a difficult week to a close by boosting their survival chances with a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at the Reebok Stadium.

Pre-match tributes were made to Fabrice Muamba, who remains in intensive care at the London Chest Hospital, seven days after the 23-year-old suffered a cardiac arrest in a match against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane.

The message all week had been to 'Pray For Muamba', but that message changed on Saturday with the Trotters players urged to 'Play For Muamba'.

A crowd of 26,901 were on hand to see Wanderers do exactly that, with an unlikely brace from David Wheater putting them on their way to victory as the hosts took a 2-0 lead into the break.

Steven Nzonzi pulled one back for Rovers 11 minutes into the second half, but Bolton managed to survive a late onslaught from their local rivals and secure a vital three points in the battle against the drop.

Bolton began brightly in the blistering sunshine at the Reebok, with early efforts from Gretar Steinsson and Martin Petrov causing trouble for the Rovers defence, with the latter being parried away by Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

Petrov shot wide again with 12 minutes on the clock as a good early start began to slow down, with no incident of note coming until midway through the half when Junior Hoilett went down inside the Bolton box under a challenge from Steinsson.

Referee Andre Marriner told the Rovers midfielder to get to his feet, although television replays clearly showed that the visitors should have been awarded a penalty.

Blackburn maintained their pressure and would surely have taken the lead moments later had Tim Ream not been expertly placed to take the ball off the foot of Yakubu, who looked certain to score from a Marcus Olsson cross.

As so often said, the course of a football match can change in an instant and that proved to be the case as Bolton broke straight up the other end and Wheater headed Wanderers into the lead after Blackburn had failed to deal with a Petrov corner.

The home supporters responded by chanting the name of Fabrice Muamba and Wanderers almost doubled their lead a minute later as Darren Pratley headed over the crossbar from close range.

After surviving a major scare prior to their opening goal, Bolton did the same again on 32 minutes as Yakubu somehow headed wide of Adam Bogdan's goal when it looked easier to score.

Two minutes later, Petrov brought Robinson into a smart low save and from the resulting corner, Ryo Miyaichi found Wheater, who thumped a header beyond the Rovers goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Wheater was now going in search of a hat-trick and he may well have got it had Pratley not got in his way from another Miyaichi corner as the first half came to a close.

Five minutes after the restart, Miyaichi danced his way into a shooting position, only to fire his effort high over the bar.

Two minutes later, the game should have been over. A superb cross from Petrov found the unmarked David Ngog, who could only succeed in heading over the bar from six yards.

Blackburn were struggling to deal with the presence of Wheater from set-plays and were lucky to avoid a penalty scare when the Wanderers defender went down under a challenge from Scott Dann.

Then, with 56 minutes on the clock, the visitors were handed a way back into the game as Nzonzi managed to flick a long-throw from Morten Gamst Pedersen beyond Bogdan, who had struggled to deal with a succession of balls into his box.

That goal gave Blackburn hope of getting something from the game, but they should have been out of sight 60 seconds later as Mark Davies somehow succeeded in heading wide of the target, unmarked, from six yards.

As the game entered it's final 20 minutes, Rovers almost found an equaliser. Bolton failed to deal with yet another corner and Martin Olsson's shot from the edge of the box took a couple of deflections before rolling narrowly wide of the target.

Pratley headed over the bar for Bolton on 79 minutes, before Yakubu came within inches of equalising for the visitors as he flicked a low cross from Hoilett towards goal.

Rovers pressed forward for a leveller in stoppage time, with Robinson also up in the opposition penalty area for a Pedersen free-kick.

David Dunn fell to ground and frantically appealed for a penalty, only for referee Marriner to award a free-kick to Bolton after the midfielder had been flagged for offside.

Marriner called time on events seconds later as Bolton sealed back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time this season and their first league double over their near neighbours since 1978.

Every single Bolton player, along with manager Owen Coyle, joined to form a huddle after the game, with supporters who were left in the stadium chanting the name of Fabrice Muamba, who will remain in the headlines as he continues to recover from the events of last weekend.

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts, M Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley, Miyaichi, Ngog (Klasnic 78), Petrov
Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Eagles, Knight, K Davies, Sordell
Goals: Wheater 28, 35

Blackburn Rovers: Robinson, Lowe, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson, Formica (Dunn 65), Nzonzi, Pedersen, Marcus Olsson, Hoilett, Yakubu
Subs Not Used: Bunn, Modeste, Petrovic, Orr, Goodwillie, Vukcevic
Booked: Lowe, Marcus Olsson
Goals: Nzonzi 56

Referee: Andre Marriner
Attendance: 26,901

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
11 Ipswich Town 20 27
12 Cheltenham Town 19 27
13 Bolton Wanderers 20 26
14 Accrington Stanley 19 24
15 Charlton Athletic 20 23
View Full Standings >>


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