The unlikely marriage of convenience between Neil Warnock and El-Hadji Diouf showed no signs of fissures at the Reebok Stadium last night as the controversial Senegal forward had a key role in two Leeds goals which earned his team a creditable point.
Indeed, after his former Bolton strike partner Kevin Davies had scored two goals of his own, including a 79th-minute equaliser, Diouf almost had the last word, sending an impressive shot from outside the area goalwards in added time, only to see it clip the crossbar.
A popular figure in four eventful years with Bolton, Diouf was made captain on his return to the Reebok by Warnock, the manager who, of course, branded him a "sewer rat" a little more than a year ago.
"Dioufy was super at Bolton and a fabulous player for Sam Allardyce so it was a mark of respect making him captain," said Warnock. "If he had scored, that would have just topped it off but I don't think he wants to disappoint his old clubs because he missed an even bigger sitter against Blackburn!"
Davies admits he still sees Diouf in and around Bolton – "driving around in his shiny car," to quote the Bolton veteran's programme notes – and it always seemed likely that the pair would take centre stage on the evening, from the 14th minute when Bolton took the lead.
Chris Eagles capped a dominant spell for the home team with a left-wing corner which Davies met powerfully with a six-yard header that gave Paddy Kenny little chance in the Leeds goal.
Chances were spurned by Wanderers, however, and, as the half progressed, Leeds gained a measure of control, Diouf finally sending over an accurate 44th minute free-kick which found the head of teenager Sam Byram whose first league goal sailed in off the far post.
The momentum was with Leeds and, sure enough, five minutes into the second half, Diouf again found Byram whose progress into the home area was halted prematurely by Stephen Warnock's clumsy challenge. For the fourth consecutive game and to manager Owen Coyle's incredulity, Bolton had conceded a penalty, this one presenting Luciano Becchio with the chance to send Adam Bogdan the wrong way from the spot.
Beaten at home three days earlier by Crystal Palace, there was a degree of desperation creeping into Bolton's play before they claimed the equaliser they deserved, Davies again the scorer, connecting with a Martin Petrov corner from eight yards.
"The performance level was outstanding and the skipper epitomised everything about this football club," said a grateful Coyle of Davies. "We showed a lot of spirit and grit to come back and we just need to keep banging on that door and the results will come."
Bolton (4-3-3): Bogdan; Mears, Mills, Knight, Warnock; M Davies, Spearing (Petrov 61), Andrews; Eagles, Afobe (Sordell 71), K Davies. Substitutes not used Lonergan, Ream, Ricketts, Pratley, Lee.
Leeds (4-4-2): Kenny; Peltier, Lees, Pearce, Drury; Byram, Austin, Brown, Tonge; Diouf, Becchio. Substitutes not used Ashdown, Varney, White, Norris, Gray, Thompson, Poleon.
Referee P Dowd (Staffordshire).Reuse content