Allardyce's direct route into Chelsea bad books

Chelsea 2 - Bolton Wanderers 2
Click to follow

It Isn't difficult to imagine the scene in Chelsea's dressing-room an hour or so before Saturday's kick-off. They are watching a video compilation of Bolton's set pieces and Jose Mourinho is stressing the need to be alert and strong at every free-kick, corner and throw-in. "That is when they are at their most dangerous," Chelsea's coach says. Bolton's direct style, a throwback to the dark days of the 1980s, is not one he approves of but it can be effective.

It Isn't difficult to imagine the scene in Chelsea's dressing-room an hour or so before Saturday's kick-off. They are watching a video compilation of Bolton's set pieces and Jose Mourinho is stressing the need to be alert and strong at every free-kick, corner and throw-in. "That is when they are at their most dangerous," Chelsea's coach says. Bolton's direct style, a throwback to the dark days of the 1980s, is not one he approves of but it can be effective.

Mourinho's warning did not go unheeded and yet still Bolton were able to fight back from a two-goal deficit to extend an unbeaten record against the Premiership's leading teams. While their manager Sam Allardyce praised the spirit of a team cast in his own image as a player, Mourinho was temperate in his criticism of Bolton's method. "I don't think many people in this country like it, but we have to be fair and what they do they do very well. They hit long balls up field, they are very strong in the air and they get a lot of bodies in to fight for the second ball. I'm glad we only have to play them once more this season."

Jay-Jay Okocha's tricks and flicks apart, Bolton get few marks for artistic impression. It's gritty stuff, shaped around aerial service to Kevin Davies and hard-running support from midfield. It was a vital ingredient at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea had previously conceded just one goal this season, and the match should have been over when they took a 2-0 lead three minutes into the second half.

Because of a traffic incident that caused the kick-off to be delayed by half an hour, some supporters were still arriving at Stamford Bridge when Chelsea took the lead after just 35 seconds, Damien Duff sprinting through onto Frank Lampard's perfectly timed through ball. For a moment it looked as though the Dubliner had taken the ball too far when rounding Jussi Jasskelainen in Bolton's goal but he had just enough of an angle to find an empty net.

Surviving a scare when pressure from Bolton almost led to Ricardo Carvalho conceding an own goal, Chelsea controlled most of the possession but were unable to build on their lead, the one clear opening coming when Duff squirmed in from the right to unleash a low shot that was too straight to trouble Bolton's Finnish goalkeeper.

Chelsea began the second half as briskly as they had the first, taking a two-goal lead when Bolton were slow to deal with a short corner worked by Duff and Arjen Robben. Duff fed the Dutchman and his low cross was turned in by Tiago. Many teams might have crumbled after that setback but Bolton are made of sterner stuff and boosted by their unexpectedly high position in the table. Okocha, who had been quiet apart from his long throws, came more into the game, Gary Speed ventured further forward from his holding role and Chelsea's defence came under the predictable aerial bombardment.

Speed launched himself at a cross from the right that flew straight at Petr Cech but the Welshman's free-kick, needlessly given away by John Terry, proved more difficult for the Chelsea goalkeeper to deal with. With all Bolton's big men up, Cech failed to reach the ball and Davies' header rebounded from Rahdi Jaidi into the top far corner. It was only the second goal Chelsea had conceded at home this season.

Allardyce sent Ivan Campo to sit in front of his defence, though the game might have been taken away from his team when Lampard's fierce drive was beaten out by Jasskelainen to William Gallas, whose shot struck Davies on the chest. From a Robben corner, the Bolton goalkeeper needed two grabs to prevent a stab by Eidur Gudjohnsen from crossing the line. Gudjohnsen was denied again when his drive from Duff's pass shuddered the crossbar. "At that time I thought it would either be 3-1 to Chelsea or we'd nick a point," Allardyce said.

A point it was. Rueing the absence of Robert Huth from the substitutes' bench - "he would have been the ideal man to send on in the circumstances," - Mourinho paced the touchline nervously when Chelsea conceded another free-kick with three minutes left to play. Taken by Bruno N'Gotty, it was touched on by Davies and fired low past Cech by Jaidi. As they say, it takes all sorts.

Goals: Duff (1) 1-0; Tiago (48) 2-0; Davies (52) 2-1; Jaidi (87) 2-2.

Chelsea: (4-3-3) Cech; Ferreira, Carvalho, Terry, Gallas; Tiago, Makelele, Lampard; Duff (Kezman, 80), Gudjohnsen (Johnson, 82), Robben. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Bridge, Parker.

Bolton Wanderers: (4-5-1) Jasskelainen; Hunt, N'Gotty, Jaidi, Gardner; Diouf (Giannakopoulos, 53), Nolan (Campo, 58), Okocha (Hierro, 76), Speed, Pedersen; Davies. Substitutes not used: Poole, Vazte.

Referee: D Gallagher (Oxon).

Booked: Chelsea: Kezman.

Man of the match: Davies.

Attendance: 40,203.

Comments