Football: Coleman provides hope for Bolton

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NEIL BRAMWELL

Bolton Wanderers 2 Sheffield Wednesday 1

Bolton's remake of The Great Escape is still showing. For the raw vitality of Steve McQueen read Sasa Curcic, but all good tunnelling plans also need the more anonymous co-ordinator.

Simon Coleman has now played six games this season since returning from injury, of which Bolton have won four. The tall central defender has introduced a more methodical approach to a previously cluttered back line.

"We do seem more organised, but you get a good run of results in a season by the law of averages," the former Wednesday defender said. "We have had it preached to us that if we keep clean sheets we are going to get something. A lot of people looked at the Middlesbrough win and thought it was a fluke and if you saw us against Manchester United you would have agreed with them. It probably did us a favour losing 6-0 - everybody realised it was now or never."

Judging by the first-half display against Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton's midweek defeat by Spurs had rocked Coleman's colleagues back into "never" mode. There was little fire and, with Curcic forced into a more advanced role behind the front two, the Serb was denied the long incisive dribbles that are his trade mark.

Wednesday were equally toothless and two goals were the only genuine incidents of the first half. Guy Whittingham pounced on a vacated Bolton goal line after Ritchie Humphreys had seized on defensive hesitancy. Scott Sellars equalised with a mistimed shot after Curcic had unlocked the Wednesday area.

The winner was the product of rare neat interplay, Curcic released for a skimming angled drive which roused a fierce backlash, but Bolton stood firm where so often they have crumbled.

The win lifted Bolton off the foot of the table for the first time in four months and Saturday's home game against Manchester City will go a long way towards determining whether there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Goals: Whittingham (37) 0-1; Sellars (44) 1-1; Curcic (52) 2-1.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Davison; Bergsson, Fairclough, Coleman, Phillips; Stubbs, Sellars, Curcic, Thompson; McGinlay, De Freitas. Substitutes not used: Small, Green, Paatelainen.

Sheffield Wednesday (4-4-2): Woods; Atherton, Newsome, Walker, Briscoe; Whittingham, Sheridan (Hyde, 55), Pembridge, Humphreys (Waddle, 62); Degryse, Hurst (Kovacevic, 44).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton).

Bookings: Bolton: Bergsson. Sheffield Wednesday: Walker.

Man of the match: Curcic.

Attendance 18,368.

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