Bolton 1.v.2 Rovers
The Reebok Stadium
4th March 2007. k/o 13:35
It was Bolton who paid the penalty this time in a Lancashire derby as the bizarre sequence between Rovers and Bolton continued.
Inevitably Benni McCarthy was restored to the starting line-up along with David Dunn as Mark Hughes made a couple of changes from the team that beat Arsenal in mid-week.
Rovers kicked off in swirling rain and vicious wind. Both sides made a lethargic start, neither finding any rhythm nor mounting an attack worthy of note. The first main opening was created by Matt Derbyshire for David Bentley in the 24th minute. The England contender should have done better. He blazed over the bar from 12 yards with time on his side and just the 'keeper to beat.
At that stage Rovers were looking the more likely side to forge ahead, getting the ball done and passing it around. However, Bolton ended the half in a flourish, forcing Rovers back and onto the back foot.
Kevin Nolan glanced a header wide from the penalty spot and Ivan Campo rasped an expertly controlled volley inches over the bar.
Referee Rob Styles brought an end to a drab first half after only a minute of injury time.
Rovers came out for the second half with a far greater urgency but it was Bolton who carved out an early chance. Good work from Nicolas Anelka allowed the Frenchman to tee up Kevin Nolan but his effort lacked pace and was comfortable for Brad Friedel to save.
Rovers then took the lead in the 58th minute via the penalty spot. David Bentley beat Gary Speed to the ball in the area following decisive link-up play with McCarthy but was tripped by the Welshman as he headed to the by-line.
It was hearts in mouths stuff as McCarthy stood poised to take the kick with visions of what happened at Ewood pouring back. However, the inform striker drilled an unstoppable effort past the despairing dive of Jaaskelainen.
Bolton sprung into life after the goal and almost equalised when Henrik Pedersen lashed a foot through the ball in a screaming effort that beat Friedel but not David Dunn, a sentry on the line. Bolton enjoyed some possession as they searched for a way back into the game but things weren`t quite falling right for them.
Matt Derbyshire almost added a second. Some more creative link-up play from Dunn and Stephen Warnock presented Derbyshire with an effort twenty yards out. His curling snap shot drifted just wide of the post with Jaaskelainen rooted to the spot.
Rovers then doubled their lead after Rob Styles awarded another penalty following another desperate lunge in the area.
It was McCarthy this time that was hauled to the ground. He duly dusted himself off and thumped another effort at goal with venom, and such was the ferocity of the strike that it still ended up going in even though the 'keeper got a solid hand on it.
Rovers were very much in control and could and perhaps should have added a third when Jason Roberts, who had earlier replaced Matt Derbyshire, burst through the Bolton ranks from his own half but fired straight at the 'keeper.
Bolton did manage to claw themselves back into contention when Anelka slotted home a half chance to set up a nervy final few minutes. Bolton did score again but it was correctly ruled out for offside.
David Dunn is starting to stamp his authority on games. It was another good performance from him. Perhaps lacking that quality with his passing and touch at times but is making his presence known.
God is back and he has a new apprentice who looks solid with every outing, Chris Samba. Warnock is also looking class.
The rest looks like it has benefited Benni, he is playing with real determination again.
He was colossal at the back. Nothing beat him.