Rabotnicki Kometal 1 Bolton Wanderers 1: Meite saves Bolton from Macedonia misery

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The Independent Football

Bolton rode their luck in their Uefa Cup first-round, first-leg meeting with Macedonian side Rabotnicki here last night to level through Abdoulaye Meite's first goal of the season seven minutes from time.

The Premier League's bottom club were heading for their sixth defeat in seven games until Meite toe-poked the ball home after goalkeeper Filip Madzovski had fumbled a free-kick from Nicolas Anelka.

Manager Sammy Lee had reverted to an attack-minded 4-4-2 in a bid to change things around with Kevin Davies returning to partner Anelka up front.

But, not for the first time this season, the Bolton defence looked vulnerable as Rabotnicki went on the counter-attack. They almost opened the scoring in the 24th minute when Bolton 'keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen spilled a shot from Nderim Nedzipi but Ivan Trickovski was unable to take advantage.

Anelka wriggled clear in the area in the 52nd minute only for Lazar Stanisic to make a crucial block and Bolton were stunned a minute later when Milisavlevic opened the scoring. He showed a cool head to rifle a shot into the corner after Trickovski had lofted the ball over a flat-footed Gerald Cid.

Speed headed wide of the post five minutes later following a free-kick from Diouf. However, Rabotnicki almost grabbed a second in the 59th minute when Trickovski clipped his effort narrowly over the crossbar after Jaaskelainen had raced off his line.

Bolton were stung and Diouf, Meite, Nolan and Anelka all had efforts as they went in search of an equaliser, which finally came in the 83rd minute through Meite, who only scored once last season, in February. Bolton pressed for the winner but had to settle for a draw. However, they should go into the second leg with confidence.

Rabotnicki Kometal: Madzovski, Stanisic, Vajs, Bozinovski, Lukmon, Demiri, Nedzipi, Osmani (Pejcic 66), Gligorov, Trickovski (Selim 89), Milisavljevic (Velkovski 72).Substitutes not used: Pacovski, Gjoreski, Mensur, Sabani.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt (Joey O'Brien 76), Meite, Cid (Braaten 63), Gardner, Nolan, McCann (Andrew O'Brien 63), Speed, Davies, Anelka, Diouf. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi, Alonso, Teymourian, Guthrie.

Referee: Zsolt Szabo (Hungary).