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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Blackburn Rovers (Bolton Fan's Perspective)

By Rob
Sunday 25th March 2012
Bolton Wanderers climbed out of the relegation zone with a vital 2-1 victory over Lancashire rivals Blackburn Rovers at an emotional, and unusually packed-out, Reebok Stadium.

The clash between the two relegation battlers was overshadowed by an overpouring of emotion for Fabrice Muamba, who had suffered a cardiac arrest in Bolton's FA Cup quarter-final just one week previously. Fans arrived early at the stadium to pay tribute to Muamba with a monument consisting of shirts and flowers and various other items. The tributes were continued inside the stadium with messages of support for the midfielder from around the world shown on the big screen, fans showing a mosaic spelling out "MUAMBA 6" as the players came onto the pitch, and a minute's applause before kick-off.

When play got under way it was the hosts who looked the more threatening, but both sides were guilty of being wasteful in possession as the game began slowly.

Blackburn should perhaps have been given an early opportunity to seize the initiative but Gretar Steinsson's trip on Junior Hoilett, after the lively Canadian winger had burst into the box, went unpunished by referee Andre Marriner.

Just minutes later Wanderers opened the scoring through an unlikely source. Martin Petrov, who enjoyed an unusually lively match, swung the ball into the Blackburn box and, having been helped goalwards off a defenders' head, David Wheater nodded in unmarked from six yards out.

Prior to this match, Wheater had scored only once for Bolton since arriving from Middlesbrough in the summer of 2011. But just seven minutes later the centre-back doubled the lead with another headed effort. Ryo Miyaichi's outswinging corner from the right was met with a powerful header by Wheater, again unmarked, that flashed past Paul Robinson in the Blackburn goal.

Bolton went on the attack again after the break, and should have moved three goals ahead when David Ngog got onto the end of another Petrov cross but could only head over the bar.

And Blackburn made Ngog pay for his miss on 56 minutes. Morten Gamst Pedersen arrowed a long throw into the Bolton box and the flat delivery was turned in past a helpless Adam Bogdan by Steven N'Zonzi to halve the deficit.

The visitors failed to capitalise on the goal, and Bolton should have put the game beyond doubt through Mark Davies got free of the defence but could only head tamely wide.

Blackburn almost stole a point late on, when Yakubu's inventive near-post flick from a threatening Hoilett cross only trickled wide of Bogdan's near post.

Bolton held onto their lead for a deserved win and on the full-time whistle the players gathered in a huddle led by Owen Coyle in a show of togetherness following a tough week for everyone connected to the club.

Wanderers now sit just outside the relegation zone on 26 points, one point clear of QPR and two behind Blackburn. Given their comparatively easier run-in Wanderers must be considered favourites to avoid the drop at the expense of the three sides below them.

Bolton: Bogdan; Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts; M Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley; Miyaichi, Petrov; Ngog (Klasnic 78). Unused subs: Jaaskalainen, Alonso, Knight, K Davies, Sordell, Eagles.

Goals: Wheater (28, 35)

Blackburn: Robinson; Lowe, Dann, Hanley, Marcus Olsson; Martin Olsson, Pedersen, Formica (Dunn 65), N'Zonzi, Hoilett; Yakubu. Unused subs: Bunn, Orr, Petrovic, Vukcevic, Modeste, Goodwillie.

Goals: N'Zonzi (56)

Total articles: 69

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