Oops... - Michael Steele
A trip to Vicarage Road was always going to be a big ask. Last time Bolton met Watford, Gianfranco Zola was still relatively new, but now he has turned the Hornets into a well oiled machine. And after an awkward start they displayed the passing prowess they've glided through the season with.
From the off the Trotters seemed up to the challenge. They started the game aggressively, meeting Zola's famous on-the-deck football with some passing of their own. Chris Eagles and Chung-Yong Lee both caused the Hornets problems early on, and for the first 20 minutes, Bolton looked the better side.
After that, Watford livened up, mainly due to one man: Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah. The 18 year old was at the heart of the Orn midfield, edging the hosts back into the match. It seemed like all that work was for nothing in the 33rd minute when Sam Ricketts was taken down in the area. Marvin Sordell stepped up to the spot and confidently tucked the penalty away in the top corner.
The lead would not last long however, as Matej Vydra (could it be anyone else?) restored parity 5 minutes later. Tim Ream missed a key clearance on the edge of the area, which Vydra quickly pounced on it and punished the Wanderers, making it his 23rd goal of the season. And the two teams went into halftime even at 1-1, which on the whole was a fair reflection of the half.
The second half was a different story, and Watford came out with ruthless passing, taking undeniable control of the match. After a decent chance from Jay Spearing which was saved by Manuel Almunia, it was mostly one way traffic in the direction of Adam Bogdan's goal. In the 59th minute, Tim Ream made up for his earlier mistake making a crucial block from Vydra.
In the 70th minute, the consistent Watford pressure paid off and they took the lead for the first time in the match through Almen Abdi. Somehow, Abdi's shot went through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner of the net. Dougie Freedman tried to reverse Bolton's fortunes by making a triple substitution, bringing Kevin Davies, Craig Davies, and Steve de Ridder on for Chris Eagles, Marvin Sordell, and Josh Vela, switching to a strange 4-2-4 formation.
The top heaviness of the team got Bolton back into the game, but ultimately it was not enough to salvage a result and the game finished 2-1. This brought the total number of points Bolton has lost from winning positions up to 24, twenty-four, points, an astonishing number. If this match teaches us anything, it's that Dougie's Bolton is still very much a work in progress.
Be that as it may, unless the club wants to be embroiled in another relegation battle, this needs to stop happening. Next Saturday Burnley visit the Reebok, and getting points is a must.