Bolton triumph in relegation battle as fans pay tribute to Muamba

Blackburn 2 Blackburn

Bolton paid tribute to Fabrice Muamba in the best way possible by claiming a victory over Blackburn that lifted them out of the Barclays Premier League's bottom three.

Two first-half headers from centre-half David Wheater, the first brace of his career, were enough to repel Blackburn's rally after Steven Nzonzi had pulled one back after half-time.

Securing back-to-back wins for the first time this season was a fitting conclusion to an emotional week at the Reebok Stadium, following the cardiac arrest suffered by Muamba in an FA Cup tie at Tottenham seven days ago.

That results elsewhere also went Bolton's way added extra gloss on a day that the home fans started and finished by singing Muamba's name.

Any fears Coyle had about the reaction of his players to the emotions of the day would have been dismissed by the positivity in the ground before kick-off.

From the moment a montage of the past week was played on the stadium's big screen through to the pre-match handshakes, loud applause and chants rang out in honour of Muamba, who remains in intensive care but whose situation is so much better than it might have been.

Bolton fed off the home crowd's enthusiasm, with Martin Petrov a particular threat down the left.

The Bulgarian hit a blistering 25-yard drive that was beaten away by Paul Robinson in the opening stages, while Trotters striker David Ngog was also causing a nuisance of himself.

But it was just as Bolton paused from breath after the early frenzy that they enjoyed a sizeable piece of luck. Television replays showed Wanderers defender Gretar Steinsson had clearly ended Junior Hoilett's charge into the box illegally, but referee Andre Marriner did not have the same view and waved play on.

One superb Tim Ream clearance later and Bolton found their stride again, and soon grabbed the goals the occasion demanded.

Petrov's cross provided the chance, his delivery inadvertently flicked on by Nzonzi for Wheater to head in at the far post for his first Premier League goal since August 2008.

Seven minutes later the towering centre-back was celebrating another.

This time the delivery came from Ryo Miyaichi's superb corner, which flew perfectly onto the head of the Bolton man who made no mistake with a thumping finish.

Defending crosses was clearly not a strength for Blackburn as within minutes of the restart Ngog rose to meet one from Petrov but flashed it over the bar.

Bolton also should have scored when Miyaichi picked Davies out from the right, but, unmarked and only six yards out, the midfielder glanced his header wide.

That would have been bad enough even if Blackburn had not already scored, but Nzonzi had found the net rather too easily after Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan failed to impose himself on a packed penalty area.

Bolton immediately looked to restore their two-goal cushion and a Petrov corner found Darren Pratley all on his own, only for the midfielder to miss the target.

It was the trigger for a sustained Blackburn assault on the Bolton goal, which almost brought them an equaliser as Aiyegbeni Yakubu bundled narrowly wide.

Bolton survived the late onslaught, however, to claim a poignant win and three crucial points.

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?