Bolton 1-0 Wolves: Stuart Holden Makes EPL Debut

Trotters out of bottom three after vital win.
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Bolton Wanderers grabbed three vital points in their fight for survival over fellow strugglers Wolverhampton, courtesy of a first half Zat Knight goal.

Both sides played out a very entertaining end-to-end match that presented a number of chances for both bottom half Premier League clubs.

A thoroughly impressive first half between two struggling Premier League sides saw the hosts take the lead through former Aston Villa defender Zat Knight. The two teams battled tremendously in an entertaining 90 minutes in which the score line could have been very different, had it not been for some great goalkeeping and some lackluster finishing.

The home side started the brightest as Chung-Yong Lee made his way down the right hand side from the kick off and whipped a dangerous ball into the box. Great goalkeeping from Marcus Hahnemann prevented any Bolton player getting on the end of it.

The South Korean was at the center of the action just minutes later as Bolton went on the counter attack from a Wolves corner. Kevin Davies cleared with a fantastic defensive header and the ball fell to on-loan Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere who sent Lee down the right hand side. Bolton players drove forward to support Lee but his center was poor and only found Craddock who cleared with ease.

After the bright start, the hosts began to lose possession as they were put under a lot of pressure by the Wolves players. The visitors then began to enjoy a good spell of possession themselves but their final ball lacked the quality required to beat the Large Bolton defense.

Again, Bolton went on the counter attack from a Wolves corner after 17 minutes. Great link up play between Davies and Lee who traded a number of neat passes before the lively Lee fed in Johan Elmander. However, the Swedish striker’s shot failed to trouble Hahnemann.

The game then opened up as both sides traded attacks and the Trotters had an opening out of nothing. Stuart Holden hit a hopeful long ball towards the Wolves penalty area which Ronald Zubar failed to clear. The ball landed at the feet of Davies who was smartly foiled by Hahnemann as the ball fell to Elmander on the penalty spot. He struck a sweet shot that would have put his side in the ahead had it not been for Jody Craddock who cleared off the line.

End-to-end football then saw Wolves go straight up the other end and nearly take the lead. David Jones sent through Kevin Doyle with a great pass and his drilled shot was well saved by Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Just two minutes later Bolton nearly found themselves ahead after a great free-kick from Holden evaded everyone in the box. Wolves’ American keeper had to be on his toes as he was forced into making a wonderful reaction save to tip the ball around his far post.

A change in momentum then saw Bolton get back on top and they took the lead on the stroke of half time. The troublesome Lee’s fancy footwork on the right flank helped him turn Adlene Guedioura inside out before picking out Zat Knight. The burly defender converted from close range to put side in the lead against his former rivals.

Wolves’ poor goal return of 21 goals in 26 league games doesn’t show for pleasant reading and they came out in the second half looking to get an unlikely away goal.

However, it was Bolton that could have had a penalty and a goal in the space of three second half minutes. Davies received the ball in the opponents’ penalty area and waited for support. Wilshere was the first to offer help and Davies attempted to find him and in doing so the ball appeared to clip the hand of Zubar but referee Andre Marriner waved play on.

Davies was again involved a minute later as he went through one-on-one. He surged into Wolves’ area and with the advancing Hahnehmann closing down the angle, Davies attempted to curl the ball around the American but shot straight at the ‘keeper.

Wolves steadied the ship after the opening 15 minutes of the second half where Bolton could have doubled their lead. The visitors were awarded a free-kick just outside the box after Paul Robinson brought down Jones. Jones decided to take it himself and exquisitely curled the ball over the wall and beat Jaaskelainen, only to see his ball crash off the inside of the left hand post and roll across the line to safety.

The visitors continued to push for the equalizer and were really unlucky not to be awarded a penalty, much to the disgust of the huge away following. Doyle found a gap in the defense of the Trotters and fed in Matthew Jarvis who took the ball in his stride. Just about to pull the trigger, Gretar Steinsson clipped his feet and the midfielder went tumbling. Again the referee was adamant that no foul had been committed.

The West Midlands side found themselves just inches from grabbing a vital equalizer on 70 minutes as they again struck the post. Kevin Foley ventured into the hosts’ box and found the ball bouncing in front of him. Having to wait for the ball to settle, he teed up his shot and struck a sweet half-volley that rattled Jaaskelainen’s post.

Breathing a sigh of relief, Bolton began to get hold of the ball and tried to slow the game down, counter attacking whenever possible.

Bolton could have sealed the game just minutes from time as Hahnemann ventured out of his goal to clear but found the head of substitute Ivan Klasnic. The Croatian headed straight at goal from 40 yards only to see the ball bounced narrowly wide.

Wolves battled to the last minute to grab an important point but typical of Wolves’ season so far, their goal scoring form let them down.

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