Football: McGinlay makes Arsenal suffer

Bolton Wanderers 1 Arsenal 0

Bruce Rioch's first return to Burnden Park since guiding Bolton into the Premiership proved to be a deeply frustrating one last night. The wanderer returned to find the Wanderers as stubborn as jilted partners.

Which, in a sense, they were. Their former manager deserted them to go to the rich pastures of north London and judging by the reaction of the players he left behind the parting was felt. Bolton fought, ran and tackled like fury and just about hung on to only their second win in the league this season.

As a consequence they move to third from bottom, six points ahead of Manchester City, while Arsenal missed the opportunity to go third in the Premiership.

Arsenal rained 24 shots on the Bolton goal but thanks to an outstanding performance from the Bolton goalkeeper, Keith Branagan, bad luck and poor finishing, they could not break through. Instead John McGinlay's strike after 35 minutes proved enough. Just.

"That will kick-start our season and take us on to better things," McGinlay said. "It was a special occasion with Bruce coming back and we reacted to the atmosphere. It was like a Cup tie."

Arsenal have suffered Bolton in Cup ties in the recent past but even so last night's result would have seemed barely conceivable, judged on a first half-hour that belonged to the Gunners. Within 30 seconds Ian Wright fired a shot across the Bolton posts, and that was a precedent for repeated and often intelligent attacks.

At the core of them was Paul Merson, whose strays from the right flank usually led to disarray in the home defence. His twisting runs were persistently elusive but his colleagues also used the space he had vacated and after 11 minutes Arsenal should have scored precisely because Wright had moved to the wing.

Martin Keown had found him loitering there and when his low cross eluded two defenders Dennis Bergkamp was within shaking-hand distance of Branagan when it arrived in the six-yard box. Inexplicably, he pushed his shot wide.

The Bolton goalkeeper also had to make an excellent diving save to his right to deny Glenn Helder after 22 minutes and, as Ray Parlour had also gone close with a shot, it seemed a goal was inevitable. So it proved - only to everyone's surprise it went to Bolton.

The home attack had comprised a speculative shot from McGinlay until that point but after Alan Stubbs, playing in midfield, produced a pass that split the Arsenal centre-backs and found McGinlay. The Scottish international had one touch to steady his aim and then side-footed past David Seaman.

Arsenal had every reason to believe they had been hard done by and certainly they spent the second half acting like men nursing a severe grievance.

Wright had been threatening to slip his shackles throughout and after 49 minutes he burst free like a seasoned escapologist, turning at such a sharp angle that Gudni Bergsson was left sprawling on the floor. Wright then bewitched Branagan and appeared to have done everything required to score, but he chipped over the bar.

The pattern was set in stone. Arsenal had by far the greatest share of possession while Bolton waited for the right and fleeting moments to charge forward. Even in the last three minutes the Gunners could have had three goals but Helder, Bergkamp and Wright were all thwarted by Branagan. The irony is that the goalkeeper was the first player Rioch signed when he moved to Bolton.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Branagan; McAnespie, Bergsson, Fairclough, Phillips; Lee, Curcic (Patterson, 72), Stubbs, Thompson (Green, 80); McGinlay, Paatelainen. Substitute not used: De Freitas.

Arsenal (4-4-2): Seaman; Dixon, Adams, Bould, Winterburn; Merson, Parlour, Keown (Platt, 77), Helder; Wright, Bergkamp. Substitutes not used: Hartson, Bartram (gk).

Referee: K Cooper (Pontypridd).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world