|Bolton Wanderers 1 v 2 Ipswich Town|
Saturday, 1st December 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Town
Saturday, 1st Dec 2012 17:06
Michael Chopra netted his first goal under Mick McCarthy’s management in the final minute as the Blues came from behind to win 2-1 at Bolton Wanderers. The home side had gone in front through Mark Davies in the first half, but DJ Campbell equalised from the spot after Daryl Murphy had been fouled, then Chopra completed the job at the death.
Andy Drury replacing the injured Luke Hyam in the centre of midfield was the only change to the side which beat Nottingham Forest 3-1 on Tuesday. Hyam didn’t travel due to the calf injury he suffered in that game.
Former Bolton midfielder Nigel Reo-Coker missed out on facing his old club due to his hamstring injury, while ex-Blues loanee Keith Andrews was in the Trotters starting line-up.
The home side had the better of the first couple of minutes of a game played in front of a surprisingly subdue home crowd although without threatening. But on four Zat Knight failed to deal with a Tyrone Barnett flick and the ball fell to DJ Campbell. The on-loan QPR man was unable to gain control when he ought to have found himself in the space for a shot and instead he played the ball to Lee Martin to his left, whose strike was blocked.
Play went straight up the other end and Andrews hit a trademark 25-yard strike which Stephen Henderson tipped over.
But the Trotters didn’t have to wait too long for a goal. Jay Spearing played the ball to Mark Davies eight yards outside the area and the midfielder - who Mick McCarthy sold when he was manager at Wolves - unleashed a powerful strike which flew past Henderson before rippling the net.
Bolton were completely dominating the early stages and Marcos Alonso went close on eight with a low 25-yard shot which deflected wide.
Town came more into it as the game reached the quarter hour mark but without creating anything in front of goal.
On 16 the home side should have added to their lead when Andrews dispossessed Drury inside the Bolton half, sending David Ngog away down the left. The ex-Liverpool man cut the ball back to skipper Kevin Davies, who sliced wide when he ought to have scored.
Campbell managed Town’s first shot in the 17th minute, his strike from the edge of the box deflecting through to home keeper Adam Bogdan.
Moments later, the Blues striker picked up the game’s first yellow card for a late tackle on Spearing. From the resultant freekick, Alonso was found on the left and cut the ball back across, Drury diverting behind ahead of Ngog.
Wanderers were still very much on top with Town so far unable to keep hold of the ball for very long and dictate the play as they did against Forest on Tuesday. Barnett and Campbell had caused a couple of moments of concern for the home side’s backline but nothing which ultimately came to anything.
Bogdan was forced into his first serious save of the game in the 32nd minute when a well-worked freekick from 25 yards involving Drury and Aaron Cresswell ended with Martin lashing powerfully to the keeper’s left. The Hungarian pushed the ball away to his left from where Bradley Orr blasted over from a tight angle.
Town were starting to show a little more and a minute later Cresswell was found in space on the left but his cross was far too long for Barnett.
The Blues had more of the ball in the closing stages of the half but without looking like scoring. For the home side, Chris Eagles screwed wide from a promising position on the right.
Bolton were worthy of their lead at the break having been in control for the most part. Mark Davies’s goal was a fine strike, while Kevin Davies amongst others will feel they ought to have done better with some of their other chances.
The Blues had started what had been a not overly entertaining game on the back foot even before conceding the sixth-minute goal but had had a better spell before the break, albeit without particularly threatening.
Perhaps the biggest positive from a Town perspective was that conceding early in an away game hadn’t led to a Leicester-style collapse and that they were still very much in it at half-time.
Bolton captain Davies had the first chance of the second half, volleying Mark Davies’s left-wing cross goalwards from the edge of the area on 50 but Henderson impressively got across to his left to save, then claimed the loose ball ahead of Eagles.
Henderson stopped a weak Kevin Davies header on 53 with the game continuing in much the same manner as the first half.
The Blues switched Drury and Barnett with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Daryl Murphy in the 55th minute, presumably in order to increase their threat going forward. Orr moved into central midfield with skipper Edwards going to right-back and Emmanuel Thomas to right midfield. Murphy joined Campbell up front.
Town began to have most of the ball but still without creating the opportunity which might lead to an equaliser. On 67 Henderson was out quickly to clear a ball over the top for Ngog as Bolton broke.
In the 71st minute the Blues got back on terms. Orr played the ball in to Murphy’s feet just inside the area and the Irishman turned away from Tyrone Mears, who tripped him. There were no protests from the home side and Mears was booked.
Despite having his spotkick saved against Forest in midweek – when Luke Hyam followed up to score – Campbell grabbed the ball and slammed it low to Bogdan’s right, just inside the post for his sixth of the season, continuing his record of scoring every other game during his loan spell with Town.
The goalscorer made way for Michael Chopra on 76, the Blues sub joining Campbell in referee Michael Naylor’s book within three minutes for a foul on Mears.
Henderson held on to an Alonso strike from 25 yards, then for Town Emmanuel-Thomas mis-hit well wide from either further out as the game moved into its scheduled final 10 minutes with the Blues on top.
On 85 Emmanuel-Thomas’s clever pass played in Martin on the right. The former Manchester United man struck a shot from a tight angle but Bogdan saved with his feet. Meanwhile, referee Naylor slipped over, much to the crowd’s amusement.
With two minutes remaining, Bolton sub Jacob Butterfield cut in from the right and hit a shot not too far wide of Henderson’s right post. At the other end, Murphy’s shot looked to be goal-bound until it struck Knight and deflected wide.
And from the corner, Town won it. The ball was cleared to Orr just outside the box and the on-loan Blackburn man hammered a low shot which Bogdan couldn’t hold onto, Chopra reacting sharply to slam the ball into the roof of the net.
Chopra had another chance as the half moved into four minutes of injury time when sent away on a break by Martin. The Blues sub was in space and cut inside Sam Ricketts before attempting to slip the ball under the advancing Bogdan, who somehow managed to keep it out.
Town dominated the final minutes of a game which had totally turned on its head after Bolton’s bright early showing and referee Naylor blew his whistle to cheers from the travelling Blue army.
The Blues had become more dominant as the game wore on and after Mick McCarthy’s inspired substitutions - all three made an impact - and switch around personnel, looked the stronger side.
Only a few weeks ago, once they had gone behind, Town capitulated in the manner they did at Leicester and Crystal Palace, but the Blues are increasingly made of tougher stuff and, having secured 13 points in McCarthy’s seven games in charge.
The victory was particularly welcome for fans who were back at the Reebok for the first time since the 4-1 defeat which all but confirmed relegation from the Premier League in April 2002.
Town are now up to fifth from bottom, a position which seemed highly unlikely when McCarthy was officially appointed a month today.
Town: Henderson, Orr, Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, N'Daw, Drury (Emmanuel-Thomas 55), Martin, Campbell (Chopra 76), Barnett (Murphy 55). Subs: Loach, Hewitt, Higginbotham, Carson.
Bolton: Bogdan, Mears, Ricketts, Knight, Alonso, Spearing, Andrews (Butterfield 79), Eagles (Chung-Yong 65), M Davies, Ngog, K Davies (Afobe 72). Subs: Lonergan, Mills, Ream, Pratley. Referee: Michael Naylor (South Yorkshire). Att: 17,208.
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