Barclays Premier League
Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Liverpool

 

 

Right-back Gretar Steinsson volleyed into the bottom corner of the net for Bolton's third goal after 50 minutes as the Trotters stunned the Reds



By Adam Higgins
Chief Football Editor from the Reebok Stadium
 


Bolton eased their relegation worries with victory over Liverpool which took them out of the bottom three for the first time since August at the expense of Lancashire rivals Blackburn.

The awe-inspiring Mark Davies scored early for the home side to set the tone while Nigel Reo-Coker doubled the lead with Craig Bellamy reducing the arrears several minutes later before Steinsson's goal at the beginning of the second half covered the match up as Owen Coyle's side won only a second home Premier League game this season with Liverpool winning just once now in their last six league outings.

The home team were unchanged from the 3-0 defeat at Manchester United last Saturday with a five man midfield anchored by skipper Nigel Reo-Coker while striker David Ngog started once more in place of Kevin Davies and for the first time against his old club Liverpool since leaving Anfield in the summer.

Defender Gary Cahill has since completed his £7 million transfer to Chelsea meaning David Wheater benefitted in starting a third successive game. Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan kept his place with Jaaskelainen returning to training this week but not ready to return to the first-team fold just yet.

Liverpool made four changes from their goalless draw with Stoke City last weekend with Sebastian Coates and Jamie Carragher dropping to the bench allowing Daniel Agger to return after injury.

Dirk Kuyt and Stewart Downing also moved to bench duty allowing starts for Maxi Rodriguez, Craig Bellamy and Andy Carroll- the latter without a goal in his last ten outings in the Premier League a year after his club record £35 million transfer from Newcastle United.

Luis Suarez remained suspended while Jay Spearing was an injury doubt with the hamstring problem that forced him off during the 1-0 Carling Cup victory at Manchester City and made him miss the Stoke match.

The strugglers made a brilliant start with Liverpool barely having time to sort themselves out and before long they were losing.

A flick by Ngog to Mark Davies, a key performer in recent weeks, ran with the ball and everyone around him wearing red jerseys backed off and the midfielder, recruited from Wolves during Gary Megson's management reign, toepoked the ball away from Reina into the bottom corner to give his side a 1-0 lead after just three minutes.

A good finish from a player who has been performing impressively and was described by his boss Owen Coyle as being the best player on the pitch during his side's loss at Old Trafford. The Liverpool defence a little apathetic to acknowledge what was happening.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Bolton have only kept one clean sheet at home in the Premier League this season, in their 5-0 victory over Stoke City, while Liverpool have kept six away clean sheets.


Eagles showed great persistence to win the ball on the right hand side with left-back Jose Enrique far too casual with the Bolton winger pushing him out of the way, getting to the dead-ball line and prodded it narrowly wide of the post with no-one busting a gut to offer him some assistance.

In a slow start for Liverpool, only Craig Bellamy was the shining light in the first ten minutes for Kenny Dalglish, taking charge of his 358th match for the club taking him into fifth place in the all-time list, with Gerrard also growing into the game - the Liverpool skipper making only a second league start since October on a ground he has scored on in four previous visits. He has netted against Bolton in five of the last six seasons.

With the exception of the lively duo of Gerrard and Bellamy, the other Liverpool players struggled against a more cohesive Bolton including the two full-backs who couldn't get involved in the game at all making a sloppy start in general.

Liverpool were looking to steal a march on Newcastle, who lost earlier against Fulham, and knew a win would take them above the Magpies and Arsenal - in action tomorrow against Manchester United - while three points would also take the Reds within three points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who drew 0-0 at Norwich in the early kick-off today.

Henderson's twenty-yarder was clean having come off the right hand side where he started the match with the young Hungarian keeper Adam Bogdan, who saved Wayne Rooney's penalty last weekend at Old Trafford, holding onto the effort in goal for Bolton.

It has been an incredible change around this season for the home team whereby this time last season Bolton were seventh in the Premier League table.

Last season's top scorer and regular club captain Kevin Davies has netted two goals this season and was once again left on the bench. Also, Bolton have scored more goals than Liverpool this season - infact if you placed everyone in the league in a table according to the number of goals scored this season - Liverpool's 24 goals would sit 14th.

Gerrard's splendid ball for Carroll set up the striker for a trademark header however the 23-year-old's powerful attempt off his forehead was cushioned down by Bogdan - nevertheless the assistant referee's flag had already been raised for offside with Carroll running half a yard to early off the shoulder of David Wheater.

Liverpool wanted a penalty which looked cast-iron on 28 minutes when the ball flicked up off Carroll and bushed the arm of Zat Knight - the referee Kevin Friend was not in the best position but saw nothing wrong.

Precisely 45 seconds after that, Bolton got themselves two goals up as Gerrard and Adam didn't want to run back to help out and a lovely interchange of quick passing in a triangle between Reo-Coker, Eagles and Ngog. Eagles picked out Reo-Coker bustling his way into the box and the former Aston Villa man controlled and tucked away past Reina.

With Gary Cahill's confirmed departure this week to Chelsea, Bolton have already lined up a replacement in New York Red Bull's centre-back Tim Ream for £2.5 million - sat in the stands at the Reebok - who cut his honeymoon short to fly over to sign the contract with only a work permit left to sort out.

The away side were being outnumbered in the middle of the park where Bolton had the extra body with one of Charlie Adam or Steven Gerrard needing to sit back and protect the defence- similarly to the job Nigel Reo-Coker was doing for Bolton-this allowing Henderson to move into the centre of the park also.

The pace of Craig Bellamy and Maxi Rodriguez was beginning to be utilised by Liverpool. Maxi, who scored the late winner when these two sides met here on Halloween night last season, got the better of Steinsson before fizzing a ground-level cross which Carroll tried to attack but missed on the stretch.

Liverpool did get themselves back into the game with a route-one goal as the long punt by Reina was flicked on by Carroll - who used his height to his advantage against Wheater in the aerial battle - and Bellamy galloped in on goal beating Bogdan who was a little slow in coming off his line.

Adam, who scored his first Liverpool goal in the 3-1 win over Bolton at the end of August at Anfield, clumsily tripped Ngog on the edge of the box and in first-half stoppage time Petrov lined up the free-kick and hit it with pace which was palmed away by Liverpool's goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

 

? DID YOU KNOW ?

Liverpool had won all ten previous league meetings with Bolton before this one and have now only managed one away Premier League win in their last five matches scoring just three times in that time.


There was a heated debate between Reo-Coker and Bellamy with the referee having a discussion but electing to keep the cards in his pocket. Luckily when the two left at half-time, still in disagreement with one another, they departed down separate tunnels with the two either side of the dugout at the Reebok Stadium.

With Liverpool looking better at the start of the second half, the game was further away from them when Petrov's inswinging corner was wind-assisted, on a night where blustery winds were blowing around Lancashire, and headed back across goal by Wheater landing to the Icelandic full-back Gretar Steinsson who banged home a fierce volley into the bottom left hand corner of the net as the Liverpool defence was again found wanting at the back.

The first yellow card was handed out to Jose Enrique of Liverpool for holding back Chris Eagles illegally on the right as Kevin Friend had little choice when Bolton were on the attack.

At the other end, Agger grazed the bar with a thumping effort struck really well which had the beating of Bogdan as he took of a couple of touches to weight it up and shot from twenty-five yards on 71 minutes hitting the crossbar and going over.

Kenny Dalglish made a double substitution shortly afterwards with Stewart Downing and Dirk Kuyt brought on to take the place of Charlie Adam and Maxi Rodriguez.

Involved in the news this week having been arrested for a suspected assault, Downing still awaits his first assist or goal in the Premier League for Liverpool and wasted a chance when he pricked the ball over when Johnson's deep right-wing cross found him lurking at the back post.

There were one or two half chances for Bolton with Eagles making the most of a sloppy pass from Martin Skrtel but shot wide when doing the harder part of taking on the defender Agger infront of him.

Not many had this result down with all of the statistics really pointing in the direction of an away win for Liverpool. Bolton's home record is worsened only by one team across England's top seven divisions - Thurrock who are bottom of the Blue Square South - and their defensive record is the worst in the top flight.

Although Bolton were going into this match in better league form than Liverpool and undergoing their spell of the season with seven points from their last five games.

For Bolton, the FA Cup win over Macclesfield helped them with some much-needed confidence and with a string of games including Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City up ahead - this result was very welcoming to a match a satisfying performance for Owen Coyle from his side - who took points off Liverpool for the first time since a 2-0 home win under Sam Allardyce back in September 2006.

Liverpool, going into the match with ten straight wins over the Trotters, were expected to keep their terrific away form in the league going and thought they would have enough.

A big cup week for them which will be a challenge for sure - the Carling Cup second leg of the semi-final against Manchester City on Wednesday followed swiftly by the FA Cup fourth round tie with Manchester United next Saturday lunchtime. Testing times ahead as Suarez is evidently being sorely missed.

 

 

Saturday 21st January 2012

Barclays Premier League

The Reebok Stadium (Bolton, Lancashire)

 

Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Liverpool                            KO 5:30pm              (HT 2-1)

M Davies 3               Bellamy 37
Reo-Coker 29
Steinsson 50

 

Bolton Wanderers:  1 Bogdan- 6.5/10, 2 Steinsson- 8/10, 12 Knight- 7.5/10, 31 Wheater- 8/10, 18 Ricketts- 7.5/10, 7 Eagles- 8.5/10 (Tuncay 90+1- 0.5/10), 6 Muamba- 7/10, 19 Reo-Coker (C)- 8/10, 16 M Davies- 8/10, 10 Petrov- 7/10, 24 Ngog- 6.5/10 (K Davies 88- 2/10).

Subs not used:  43 Lynch (GK), 25 Boyata, 39 Riley, 21 Pratley, 36 O'Halloran

Booked:       None

 

Liverpool:  25 Reina- 5/10, 2 Johnson- 5/10, 5 Agger- 6/10, 37 Skrtel- 6/10, 3 Enrique- 5.5/10, 14 Henderson- 6.5/10, 8 Gerrard (C)- 6.5/10, 26 Adam- 5.5/10 (Downing 64- 5.5/10), 11 Maxi- 5/10 (Kuyt 64- 4/10), 9 Carroll- 4/10, 39 Bellamy- 8.5/10.

Subs not used:  32 Doni (GK), 16 Coates, 23 Carragher, 34 Kelly, 33 Shelvey

Booked:      Enrique (62), Kuyt (90+2)

 

My Man of the Match:   Chris Eagles (Bolton Wanderers) - Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   Chris Eagles (Bolton Wanderers) - Rating 8.5/10

 

 

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) - 7/10
Attendance: 26,854

 

 

Match Facts


Possession:
Bolton - 54%                  Liverpool - 46%

Shots: Bolton - 15                       Liverpool - 11

Shots on target: Bolton - 8                     Liverpool - 8

Shots off target: Bolton - 7                     Liverpool - 3

Corners: Bolton - 5                     Liverpool - 5

Fouls: Bolton - 10                   Liverpool - 13

Offside: Bolton - 0                      Liverpool - 5

Assists: Bolton - 3 (Ngog, Eagles, Wheater)                   Liverpool - 1 (Carroll)

 

 


Bolton Wanderers manager Owen Coyle

"I’m delighted to get the win. The great thing about today wasn’t just that we won, it was how we won. I think when you play elite clubs of the stature of Liverpool sometimes you can get a result and you’re fortuitous and ride your luck. Nothing could be further from the truth today. From the outset we were terrific in possession and against the ball we knew we had to work so hard at high intensity because Liverpool get forward, their full-backs are always bombing on but everybody played their role. I’m thrilled for the players but I’m even more happy for the fans because they’ve backed the club to the hilt. I think it was the second sell-out in the last three games in difficult times. We have to make sure we stay in the Premier League and days like today will certainly help to do that. It was always going to be a season of transition, our young players as you can see continue to get better and that augurs well for the second half of the season. I brought him to the club because of the belief I have in him as I do with young players. As you know, the money that we’ve spent – although it’s not been a lot – it’s always been invested in young players. He’s got pace, he’s strong, he can score a goal. He didn’t have anything to prove because Liverpool knew what a good player he was, that’s why they asked for the fee they did but I felt it was a team performance. We as a club have not done as people’s perception was but Nigel Reo-Coker has been terrific. He’s started every game in my team when there’s been chopping and changing with different people. He’s been skipper the last two games and I’ve been delighted with how he’s been."

 

 


Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish

"If that's the level they expect this football club to play at, they won't be here long because that was a very poor performance and not good enough. It isn't how we expect Liverpool teams to perform in any game. The most disappointing thing for me was I don't think they were ready to play the game. If they think they can just turn up and get a result and not be competitive and not match the opposition for effort, then they have had a lesson today. If we have learned from it then fine but we have to look at ourselves- without wishing to take anything away from Owen Coyle and the way Bolton played today which was magnificent- and what we can do and try to prevent it happening in the future. If we want to be finishing in the European places, then we must be winning these types of games without any problems. We made problems tonight of our own and paid the price for not having enough in the attacking third and defending poorly. The foundations the football club have always been built on is respect for other people. It is built on the philosophy that the next game is the most important one, not the one that is two or three down the line. If they needed a lesson to be taught to them then this was it- we have two big cup games coming up this week which we need to have the right mentality for if we are going to win and prepare fully. We need a huge improvement from this display."

 

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