Cooper catches Bolton out

Bolton Wanderers 1 (De Freitas 67) Nottingham Forest 1 (Cooper 90) Attendance: 17,342
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The Independent Online
BOLTON'S resilient supporters deserved more than to suffer Nottingham Forest's cruel injury-time equaliser. A championship-challenging outfit could not have expected a more fiercely partisan atmosphere at Burnden Park, where the home contingent had been urged by the players to give their struggling side a lift.

Bolton deserved great reward for their industry alone. But as the defending grew more desperate and Bolton's conviction waned, Colin Cooper poked in a goal to rob Wanderers of the points for the second time this season. Back in October, Cooper had snatched the winner at the City Ground in an open and attractive contest. The return fixture, though, was scrappy and lacking flair. Without the services of Jason Lee and Bryan Roy, the visitors' attack lacked focus and an error-riddled first half was sparked into life only when Scot Gemmill shaved the post shortly before the interval.

Bolton are at least trying to play their way out of trouble but, in a congested midfield, over-elaboration often resulted in wasted possession. Their second-half approach was more direct and more chances ensued.

Colin Todd, one half of Bolton's management team, said the supporters were responding to his side's continued improvement. He put the result down to "downright bad luck". "We will try to keep clean sheets without being negative," he said, "and I cannot ask any more of those boys to get a result."

The Forest manager Frank Clark recognised the need to retain more possession in their Uefa Cup match in Lyon on Tuesday. "I was concerned we were giving the ball away too much," said Clark, "quite often from wrong decisions rather than bad technique. We were not sharp enough in and around their penalty area."

Bolton's goal was a peach, the product of a sweeping left-flank move which found Fabian de Freitas at the byline. He cut inside Cooper and fired into the top far corner. Forest created few chances in retaliation and the equaliser came from a scrappy goalmouth melee after a corner. The ball was tipped on to the bar and Cooper prodded home at the far post.