Trotters repel Wolves fightback

The hosts dominated the opening period but shot themselves in the
foot – as they had in their previous game – by conceding a goal in
the first minute, Richard Stearman heading past his own goalkeeper
Marcus Hahnemann. Second-half strikes from Johan Elmander and
Stuart Holden gave Bolton a 3-0 lead, and although Kevin Foley and
Steven Fletcher swiftly reduced the deficit, Mick McCarthy’s side
were unable to find the equaliser. While the visitors will be
delighted to have held out to keep their impressive form going,
McCarthy’s side remain in the Barclays Premier League’s bottom
three. They have earned plaudits for their football over the last
few weeks, but have taken only nine points from 13 league fixtures
and results need to improve fast. Wolves had caused Arsenal plenty
of problems on Wednesday night in one of a string of creditable
performances they have put in recently against top-four sides, but
made life difficult for themselves from the off in that match by
conceding a goal almost immediately after kick-off. It seemed they
had learned little from the experience as they again fell a goal
behind only a few seconds in against the Trotters. Lee Chung-yong’s
cross from the right was only partially cleared and the South Korea
winger headed the ball straight back into the danger zone where
Stearman, under pressure from Matt Taylor, nodded it past Hahnemann
and into the net. It was a disastrous start, but the hosts tried to
rally quickly and their skipper Karl Henry forced a save out of
Jussi Jaaskelainen with a lofted delivery. From the resulting
corner, Matt Jarvis teed up Nenad Milijas, whose drive was blocked.
Moments later Sylvan Ebanks-Blake brought down Stephen Hunt’s cross
and protested that Gary Cahill pulled him back as he shaped to
shoot, but referee Peter Walton ruled that the Wolves striker
controlled the ball with an arm. Kevin Davies then saw a shot saved
by Hahnemann, before Ebanks-Blake hit the post at the other end –
although replays suggested he had used his hand. Wolves went the
closest yet to making it 1-1 when Milijas rifled a free-kick at
goal which Jaaskelainen did well to parry. The ball fell to Foley,
whose floated cross was volleyed over the bar by Ebanks-Blake.
Milijas called Jaaskelainen into action again a minute before the
break with a swerving shot and Bolton survived a scramble that
followed shortly after. Jarvis then broke into the box but was
thwarted by the Finnish stopper. Wolves’ hunt for a leveller showed
no signs of letting up as the second half got under way, with
Milijas unlucky once more after his chip from the edge of the box
clipped the bar. Bolton attempted to wrestle back possession and
Elmander was beaten to Davies’ flick-on by Hahnemann. The Swedish
striker then laid the ball square to Fabrice Muamba, whose shot was
deflected wide. Jarvis, tipped to be in the England squad announced
after the game, sent an inviting ball into the Bolton box but a
handful of his team-mates had all run too soon and it drifted
behind them. The hosts looked to be in the ascendancy, but just
after the hour mark, they were undone by a moment of magic. Holden,
who had brought a save out of Hahnemann moments earlier, played the
ball in to Elmander, who had his back to goal but twisted and
turned around a crowd of defenders before calmly finishing in the
bottom corner. Holden then got on the scoresheet himself, slotting
Lee’s pass into the net and Wolves looked dead and buried. They
swiftly pulled on back, though, as Foley collected the ball from
Jarvis and angled it past Jaaskelainen. Suddenly Wolves’ tails were
up and after piling on the pressure for 10 minutes, they grabbed
another. Jarvis was again the provider, sending in a corner which
Jaaskelainen flapped a glove at but missed, allowing substitute
Fletcher to nod the ball over the line. The comeback appeared to be
on, but nobody could get on the end of crosses from George Elokobi
and Fletcher in the closing stages and Steven Mouyokolo glanced
wide right at the end as Bolton made off with the win.