Football: Bolton's errant ways

By Dave Hadfield Bolton Wanderers 1 Sellars 21 Coventry City 5 Whelan 26, Huckerby 58, 65 Dublin 73, 79 Attendance: 25,000
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THIS was the day on which Bolton were supposed to turn the corner. Instead, the corner turned them into even stronger contenders for a rapid return to the First Division next season.

Even allowing for Coventry's excellent recent form, this was the sort of match the Wanderers had to win if they are to have any hope of staying up.

For almost an hour they looked capable of doing so, but then fell apart completely in one of the most shambolic defensive performances you could ever wish to see. Bolton had marginally the better of a well- balanced first half, with Nathan Blake setting up an opening goal for Scott Sellars after Per Frandsen had hit the post.

Coventry hit back immediately with Jimmy Phillips' failure to clear Paul Telfer's corner any further than the lurking Noel Whelan who volleyed home with power and precision.

But Bolton continued the first half and started the second as the more promising side. Frandsen hit a post again and, after the break, there were 10 minutes during which Bolton looked certain to take the lead once more.

Their ultimate demise hinged on the first of a series of horrible mistakes, when Chris Fairclough allowed the ball past him to put Darren Huckerby straight through on goal to give Coventry the lead.

Bolton's abject inability when the ball came in from the corner then destroyed any chance they might have had of fighting back. Dion Dublin's header came back off Keith Branagan's shins for Huckerby to prod home his second and then Dublin scored himself after Whelan had flicked the ball on with a header.

A defeat of embarrassing and damaging proportions was completed when Phillips miscued to tee-up the ball for Dublin's second. It was the biggest win of Gordon Strachan's 14 months in charge and, as he admitted, Coventry did not have to play well, merely accept what they were given.