Not been the happiest of places to visit has it in the recent past? No wins at the Reebok and the sad death of Matthew Harding just adds to the woe of this game appearing in the fixture list. Give Sam Allardyce his due, he may be a seriously ugly bugger, but he has built a team capable of holding their own in the Premier League, and all on £37.46 and a bag of chips.
I have never really understand how certain teams have an Indian sign over another, there is no logical reason for it. It’s like reading in the paper that a Cemetery has raised the price of burials due to the cost of living. Not only has their record in Bolton against us been impressive, but now they have started to beat us at the Bridge as well! How fitting therefore that the hero of this game should be John Terry (yes him of Barmy Army fame!).
This was always likely to be a test. Losing Carlo was a bitter pill to swallow, to have to replace him with a tin of rice pudding was a real trauma for us all. That Ambrosio came through it, not quite with flying colours, but at least with us all smiling, will maybe hold us in good stead in the weeks ahead. Maybe. Well OK, I know Bolton are no Arsenal, but you have to have some straws to clutch on to!
It must be something in the damp, dirt ridden air of the north, for this was a game very similar to our trip to Manchester City the other week. Bolton simply battered us for the first 45 minutes and really should have gone in at least two goals to the good. That they didn’t was due to Ambrosio making one excellent stops and a couple of others where he managed to get his body in the way and keep the ball out. Oh, and of course, Mr Graham Poll. Everytime I start to hate this bloke he appears to come up with a decision that makes me rethink my whole philosophy on Referees. He turned down an appeal from the Bolton players where Marcel made no attempt to play the ball, but decided simply to take the man out. I thought it was pretty blatant, but then what do I know about the laws of the game?!
I am going to ignore the first half, as we didn’t really arrive in this game until the second 45 minutes came along. Clearly Claudio had read them the riot act at half time for we came out looking a totally different team. Jaaskelainen saved brilliantly from Frank Lampard, then Geremi fired just wide before Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink failed to hit the target from 10 yards after 57 minutes. On 65 minutes Crespo was replaced by Joe Cole and we suddenly turned things up a notch. Five minutes later we took the lead. In many ways it was an odd goal. JT and Marcel got in each others way before the ball finally found itself going forward towards the Bolton goal. JT continued his run and hit home a superb volley at the far post after Hasselbaink had flicked on Duff’s cross. Three minutes later it was 2-0 and game over when a superb ball from Cole saw Jimmy Floyd play in an excellent cross behind the Bolton defence which Duff managed to get his foot to. Despite the best efforts of the Bolton keeper the ball found itself in the back of the net. A fantastic run and shot from Joe Cole deserved a goal, but sadly it was cleared off the line by Simon Charlton. There was still time for Ambrosio to deny Okocha once more, before Poll decided to blow for time and three points against Bolton were finally ours.
Personally I feel that the title is out of reach, but if we keep getting results like this one then there is no shame in taking second spot. If only we could do something about our bloody home form! Of course, if Bolton want to do us a favour next time out…
TEAM; Ambrosio – Gallas, Desailly, Terry, Bridge – Gronkjaer (Huth 89), Geremi, Lampard, Duff (Parker 90) – Hasselbaink, Crespo (Cole 65). Subs Not Used: Makaba-Makalamby, Melchiot.