BLACKBURN, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: Mark Davies of Bolton Wanderers (L) celebrates with his team mates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers at Ewood Park on December 20, 2011 in Blackburn, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Bolton Wanderers strolled out of Blackburn's Ewood Park with a chorus of boos at their back and a vital three points in hand. You would have thought that at the final whistle, Bolton had been in the middle of the field at Wembley Stadium holding the FA Cup up high and confetti showering down from the heavens. All that they actually took was a win that would keep the Whites off the bottom of the Premier League at Christmas. Bolton won by a narrow 1-2 margin and while the initial reaction may be that all is well, but the Bolton we know and hate was alive and well in the second half. We're getting a little ahead of ourselves though. You should hit the jump for a full match recap and find out what exactly happened.Bolton needed to come into the game like a prize-winning horse on its first stride out of the gate. That's exactly what they did when David Ngog and Nigel Reo-Coker did some good work taking the ball down their right flank. David Ngog got the ball in the box and after nearly going down, he stayed up and laid the ball off to Mark Davies. His shot was firm and put past Blackburn's keeper, Paul Robinson. On the half hour mark, Bolton improved their chances of a win by doubling the advantage thanks Nigel Reo-Coker's second of the season. Martin Petrov crossed the ball in from the left and while the ball was not meant for the central midfielder, he cut it off, turned, and "shot" (it was almost a tackle into the net) to make it 2-0.
However, the "two-nil lead is the most dangerous lead" cliche exists for a reason and Bolton nearly proved it true once again. The side came out from the half complacent and off the pace that they had established in the first half. They were nearly made to pay a few times but escaped with shots going just high and/or wide. It was Yakubu who beat Bolton thanks to some lax Gary Cahill defending that let the Nigerian slip through the back line and play a little chip over Jussi Jaaskelainen. The next 23 minutes plus four long minutes of stoppage time were nervy and agonizing as it seemed like all of Bolton's brilliant play in the first half would be undone. The Trotters somehow held on, even with the much maligned Darren Pratley making a late appearance.
They wouldn't escape without their scars however as two Bolton Wanderers left the field with injuries. Marcos Alonso went to ground after a tackle holding his foot (the same one with the injured metatarsal that kept him out of action). Prior to going off, Alonso played a good game with his no-fuss approach to defending and marauding runs up the left flank. The second casualty was David Ngog who went down after landing and holding his calf. Ngog's game on the ball wasn't the best but he did set up the first goal and had some good off-the-ball runs. As soon as either one's status is updated, we'll let you know.
The Wanderers are off the bottom of the table at Christmas, have double digit points on the season, and thus an improved chance of survival. There's still some ways to go though before the team can guarantee Premiership football for 2012/2013. Bolton will take on Newcastle at home on Boxing Day before welcoming Wolves to the Jungle... er, Reebok on New Years Eve.