Bolton Wanderers 0, Blackburn Rovers 0: Bolton escape with Roberts missing in action
Sunday 19 October 2008
For once in his life, Jason Roberts let Bolton off lightly in this lacklustre Lancashire derby. The much-travelled striker has frequently punished Wanderers with his various clubs, but must be developing a sympathetic streak for them, because on either side of half-time he missed the chances that should have won the game.
His first opportunity came from Brett Emerton's cross, which he won unchallenged on the far post, only to steer his header to the wrong side of the upright. Soon after the interval, a chip from Carlos Villanueva threatened to put Roberts clean through, but his first touch was a poor one which took him away from goal and the danger was averted. It was the first miss that really upset Roberts and his manager. "He's gutted," said Paul Ince. "He's got to score. You can make excuses, but he's got to score the goal."
It was his chance, as Ince described it, "to put two fingers up to Gary Megson" – a manager with whom, Roberts had revealed in the week, he had never got on.
Blackburn were without one man whom they would have backed to put that chance away, thanks to Roque Santa Cruz's hamstring strain. "You obviously miss a player of thatcalibre," Ince said of the Paraguay international.
All that meant for Wanderers fans of a nervous disposition, however, was that they were facing two strikers with records as regular scorers against them in Roberts and the former Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester City and Cardiff forward Robbie Fowler. Throw in the fact that Bolton have never beaten Rovers at home in the seven years that both have been in the Premier League and it begins to look more like a home point gained than two lost.
But Megson was having none of that. The Bolton manager's view was that the quantity of chances his side created yesterday made Wanderers the likelier winners. What he had in mind in particular was when the central defender Andy O'Brien had a headed chance as inviting as Roberts', but glanced it wide. "I would expect any of my outfield players to score from that position," said the former Leicester manager.
That chance came in a run of three just before midway in the first half, which also included Matthew Taylor having a curling free-kick pushed round the post and also firing wide from Kevin Davies's flick.
Taylor, who scored a blazing goal in the impressive win at West Ham last time out, also missed the target twice in the second half, but his enterprise down the left made him Bolton's most progressive player.
"He's in the side because he carries a goal threat," said Megson. "He's not scored today, but he looked threatening and there's not enough people in the team scoring goals." Jason Roberts would know exactly what he meant.
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