Bolton prove point over Wigan in Premier League survival
02 May 2009 06:17
These neighbours are a cut above the worst of the Premier League and Bolton's point from the match should prove sufficient to ensure they do it all again at this level next season.
Wigan had the better of the first half, Bolton asserted themselves in the second and neither side can dispute the justice of the result.
Both hit the woodwork and had a 'goal' disallowed and generated spells of menacing momentum that might, on another day, have plundered all three points.
Jussi Jaaskelainen, the Bolton goalkeeper, was largely responsible for denying Wigan victory, while most of Bolton's frustration in front of goal was self-inflicted.
Mido and Kevin Davies were particularly culpable. Anxiety was evident on the touchline, where Steve Bruce must have had visions of a fourth consecutive defeat and Gary Megson doubtless felt there had to be better ways of celebrating his 50th birthday.
Bruce was still ruing his players' inability to convert early superiority into an unassailable advantage. "We should have been out of sight in the first 10 minutes," he said.
"But then that's been our Achilles heel. We can't keep relying on our defence and saying their goalkeeper played really well. We've got to start taking those chances."
Megson still refuses to accept his club's safety and said: "We are leaping across the line but then I don't see anybody else sprinting across it.
"In the first half Wigan were much better and we got a wake up call when Jussi pushed a shot onto the post. In the second half people in front of him started playing as they should, with the tempo you need in the Premier League."
Jaaskelainen unconvincingly turned Hugo Rodellega's second minute shot onto a post and required treatment - presumably to his pride - before resuming.
The Fin, restored to his full powers, saved athletically from Charles N'Zogbia, repelled another Rodellega effort and demonstrated the range of his talent to claw away Mido's curler.
Gary Cahill's deflected volley struck the Wigan bar and Bolton showed far greater positive intent in the second half. Davies beat Chris Kirkland five minutes from the end but he was penalised for pushing as he climbed for the header and Bolton resisted the last gasp efforts of the home team to force a winner.