My post earlier today bemoaning the relative tameness of Lancashire derbies was perhaps a little too accurate, and this one in particular was far from a classic. While both teams went through periods of dominance and had a few chances, overall neither side were deserving of 3 points. Deserving or not, a late goal from substitute Chris Eagles saw Bolton extend their winning streak to 4 games, and pushed them up to 9th in the table.
The first half could be charitably described as "pedestrian" and more accurately as "mind-numbingly dull". The Trotters got off to a good start, with Darren Pratley getting the first chance in the 2nd minute, though his shot sailed over the bar. Chung-Yong Lee and Marcos Alonso formed a good partnership down the left, with both players making runs which stumped the Blackburn defense. However they were crippled by a much less mobile right side of the pitch, with Pratley not adjusting well to the new position on the wing.
Despite Bolton's long spells of dominance, the best chance of the half went to Blackburn. Youth player Raheem Hanley converted Morten Gamst Pedersen's free kick into a dangerous shot which went off Andy Lonergan's crossbar in the 41st minute. This match was largely an argument for Adam Bogdan, who was not included due to a niggling groin injury, to continue to rule between the posts. He didn't concede, but Lonergan certainly looked on the shaky side. The game went into halftime goalless.
In contrast to the first half, Blackburn started the second period on top. Hanley once again hit the woodwork in the 51st minute, this time when Lonergan tipped his header into the bar. Dougie Freedman made his first sub in the 71st minute bringing Eagles on for Pratley, which once again proved to be a good mood. Pratley struggled to gain footing on the right hand side, and though out of form, Eagles still has a dangerous foot on him.
A few minute later, David Ngog wasted a golden chance, when he got the ball off a long thrown in, but his volley went well over the cross bar. In the 79th minute, the Frenchman was given another good opportunity, he spun and shot from the edge of the box, but Jake Kean collected the effort easily.
Blackburn weren't finished though, and Lonergan was forced to save twice in the last 10 minutes. The first was from an opportunistic Jordan Rhodes, who claimed a wayward back-pass and sent it goal wards in the 82nd minute. On the other end, the Whites caused Jake Kean trouble, with Chris Eagles' likely looking shot getting deflected just wide. Then Medo forced a parried save, with Chungy's follow up cleared off the line. In the 88th minute, Lonergan made a crucial and final save, pushing Pedersen's effort over the bar.
Deep into stoppage time, the match looked to be ending a goalless draw, a result that didn't do either team much good. Much to Wanderers' delight, Eagles had his say about that, and put Bolton ahead at the death. The tricky winger found space in the box and that was all he needed as his low shot went in off the post. To celebrate, he ran the length of the pitch to the Blackburn supporters who booed his introduction (he was carded for his trouble).
That goal gave Bolton a vital 3 points. The Trotters retain their upward momentum, and now are 9th in the table, just 5 points off 6th place Brighton. With 30 points left to play, playoffs seem well within reach of the revitalised Bolton.