Liverpool vs Bolton report: Brilliant Adam Bogdan produces heroics to earn Wanderers a replay

Liverpool 0 Bolton 0: Champoionship side have goalkeeper to thank as they hold Reds to goalless draw

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Bolton Wanderers, famed winners of an FA Cup replay on this ground 22 years ago, will have the opportunity on their own turf to add another unlikely story to a fourth round of extraordinary upsets after Liverpool failed to crack the defensive durability of the Championship side.

Reborn under the stewardship of Neil Lennon, Bolton held the Premier League side at bay with impressive resolve, although Liverpool might argue that referee Kevin Friend was a little generous in giving the underdog the benefit of the doubt at critical moments, notably in failing to award them a penalty seven minutes from the end when substitute Jay Spearing, once a Liverpool player, barged Jordan Henderson over.

There was no fairytale return for 37-year-old Emile Heskey, almost 11 years after he scored the last of his 27 Anfield goals in a Liverpool shirt.  But Bolton found a hero in their goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, the 27-year-old Hungarian who was a model of composure under sometimes intense pressure, and pulled off some fine saves for good measure.


Even before the upsets of the afternoon, Bolton had fancied their chances at Anfield.   All week, veterans of the class of ‘93, the side from the middle reaches of the third tier that pulled off an extraordinary 2-0 win in a third-round replay here 22 years ago, had been recalling what was dubbed the White Hot spirit of Bruce Rioch’s giantkillers.

But it had not been history and romance alone that had fired their self-belief.  Wanderers have lost their way somewhat since slipping out of the Premier League in 2012, but since Neil Lennon replaced Dougie Freedman as manager last October there have been signs that better times are returning.  The former Celtic manager’s record of only three defeats in 16 matches so far warranted respect.  Moreover, he has form of his own on this ground, having masterminded Celtic’s ‘Battle of Britain’ UEFA Cup win over Liverpool in 2003.

Emile Heskey returned to Anfield

It was evident in the team Brendan Rodgers put out, mindful of the task that lies ahead in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea on Tuesday.  He made five changes, with Steven Gerrard not involved at all, but there were starting places for Philippe Coutinho, Raheem Sterling and Adam Lallana in a front line full of intent.

Yet they were repelled fairly comfortably by Lennon’s side in a first half in which goalkeeper Adam Bogdan was dealing mainly with shots from distance.  Sterling, so impressive in the first leg of the Chelsea tie, looked eager to continue in similar vein but all too often ran into frustrating dead ends as Lennon’s big defenders made sure he was never alone.

Chances for Heskey and Eidur Gudjohnsen to bring their experience to bear were limited, but there were some moments of uncertainty for the Liverpool rearguard and when a rocket from left-back Dean Moxey speared towards Simon Mignolet’s right-hand post the 6,000 Bolton fans were out of their seats, although in truth the shot was always going wide.

Rodgers, who does not feel it will be long before Lennon is managing in the Premier League, made the first change of the night, taking off Jose Enrique in favour of Lazar Markovic at half-time.  Within minutes of the restart, the Serb was in the thick of drama, going down under a challenge from Matt Mills a yard outside the Bolton box.  Referee Kevin Friend was unimpressed with the winger’s claim for a free kick; Rodgers was livid.

Sterling looked lively for Liverpool but couldn't break the deadlock

Heskey’s involvement ended 10 minutes into the second half, the old warrior unable to fashion a dream return.  The Kop showed its appreciation, chanting his name, and you sensed he was touched by the moment, applauding as he left the field.

The game he left behind now began to open up.  Markovic delivered a venemous strike, which Bogdan could not hold.  Javier Manquillo, hustling a hesitant Moxey, dragged his follow-up wide when he should have buried it.  But Bolton, for their part, came up with a response immediately.  A chance fell to Gudjohnsen, unmarked just inside the box, but he screwed his shot over the bar.

Rodgers made more changes, taking off Joe Allen for Lucas Leiva, whose steady presence has been a vital element in Liverpool’s improving form, and sending on Fabio Borini to play ahead of his original front three.  The extra man had Bolton stretched within moments, the Italian finding space on the left to test Bogdan, who pushed his shot wide.

Henderson was convinced he should have had a penalty as the Bolton goal came under siege in the final stages, when chance after chance fell to Liverpool, Borini heading his best chance over the bar before Bogdan had the last word,  beating away a Lucas shot from the last kick.


Liverpool (3-4-3): Mignolet; Johnson, Can, Sakho; Manquillo, Henderson, Allan, Enrique; Lallana, Sterling, Coutinho. Substitutes not used: Ward (gk), Lovren, Lambert, Lucas, Borini, Rossiter, Markovic.

Bolton Wanderers (4-1-3-2): Bogdan; Dervite, Mills, Ream, Moxey; Danns; Feeney, Vela, Pratley; Heskey, Gudjohnsen. Substitutes not used: Lonerghan (gk), McNaughton, Spearing, Hall, Trotter, Wheater, Wilkinson.

Referee: Kevin Friend

Man of the match: Bogdan (Bolton)

Match rating: 8/10