Bolton struggle to rise above the mediocrity

Allardyce's men run into a brick wall while Gillingham cling on to deny high-flying Hornets
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The Independent Online

If ever proof were needed that advanced years do not necessarily mean a decrease in performance then Dave Beasant, at 41, provided it last night.

If ever proof were needed that advanced years do not necessarily mean a decrease in performance then Dave Beasant, at 41, provided it last night.

In an otherwise undistinguished affair, despite the high shot-count, Beasant was a beacon of excellence, denying the home side the chance of closing the gap on the front-runners on occasions too numerous to list. And, if Bolton's was hardly a performance worthy of their lofty position, then Sam Allardyce, their manager, can take heart in the knowledge that his side persevered to the end and at least had the decency to try and pass their way into opposition territory.

Forest, meanwhile, looked bereft of ideas. Their defence was industrious, their keeper outstanding, but there was no rhythm to their forward play which was dominated by too many long-balls which rarely defeated the offside trap.

In the latter stages the game opened up and both sides created chances, but this was in contrast to much of the rest of the fixture where the combatants indulged a battering-ram mentality of attempting to force rather than create opportunities. The result was a stodgy affair, littered with errors and dominated by long-range shots.

Allardyce said his side deserved to win and David Platt, the Forest manager, felt his team deserved a point. Both were just about right.

While fractured in their build-up play, Bolton clearly had the edge. The midfield was happy to trade positions in an effort to outwit Forest and Gareth Farrelly presented Bo Hansen with an early chance which he headed over.

Later, Michael Ricketts, who earlier missed the target with a header and was denied a penalty after appearing to have his shirt tugged, saw his well-crafted shot matched by Beasant's diving save. The veteran followed up by denying Per Frandsen then Farrelly.

The visitors had their moments also, but confidence in the face of goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen waned too easily.

Robbie Blake failed to react quickly enough with just the goalkeeper to beat and Jack Lester's drive was thwarted.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; O'Kane, Fish, Marshall, Charlton; Hansen, Frandsen, Elliott (Nolan, 69), Farrelly; Rankin (Gardner, 56), Ricketts. Substitutes not used: Banks (gk), Barness, Passi.

Nottingham Forest (4-4-2): Beasant; Scimeca, Edwards, Doig, Foy; Prutton, Bart-Williams, Johnson, Rogers; Blake (Jones, 82), Lester (Harewood, 74). Substitutes not used: Collis (gk), Vaughan, Louis-Jean.

Referee: S Lodge (Barnsley).

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