Classy Allen sets up stroll for slick Swans
Wigan Athletic 0 Fulham 2: Rash Gardner sees red as Rodgers' men stay cool to punish sloppy Bolton
At least Bolton could commend themselves on becoming the first English team to score in the Premier League in Wales – but that's where the back-slapping had to stop as five crazy minutes of self-destruction put yet more weight behind the case for the classy Welshmen.
Bolton conceded a man, a goal and then a penalty, which ultimately cost them three more points to place their manager under increasing pressure. Owen Coyle tried to put a brave face on the problems of a team one off the bottom, although it was somewhat inevitable he would turn his ire on the referee.
"There was no consistency with yellow cards being shown," the Wanderers manager said. "Whether somebody has an agenda against us or not, I don't know."
Mark Clattenburg had sent off David Wheater in Bolton's defeat at Arsenal. Later, Coyle backed down from the "agenda" inference, but maintained "there was no consistency" in a match which saw RicardoGardner dismissed. He cited Neil Taylor pulling back Mark Davies and, in fairness, Leon Britton should have seen at least a yellow in the first half for a studs-up challenge. The midfielder then went on to be cautioned.
Yet Swansea were by far the super-ior team, and Coyle should have focused on his side's deficiencies. Gardner's in particular. If the card he received a minute before the break could be seen as slightly harsh – "There was nothing in it, it was the first foul he made in the game," claimed Coyle – then the second, two minutes after the break, can only be classed as incredibly stupid. Both times he brought down the excellent Nathan Dyer, the second a blatant pull-back. In the few minutes between the fouls, he talked with the referee. Not the brightest.
The payback was instant, but again owed plenty to Bolton's self-destruct button. Joe Allen, the young midfielder whose stature grows with every Premier League game, jinked and jived his way into the left-hand side of the box. The near post should have been covered. It wasn't, Jussi Jaaskelainen falling for the slightest of feints by Allen. The 21-year-old took the invitation and drilled it home.
Bolton's gameplan was limited, but they had done a job in the first half by disrupting Swansea's rhythm. They might have opened the scoring in the 20th minute when a fine swivel and volley from David Ngog forced Michel Vorm, the Dutch international goalkeeper, into his acrobatic best. Saying that, had Gardner not reacted to divert Scott Sinclair's curler, the Swans would have run in ahead. From blocker to blockhead – so Gardner's afternoon turned. As, naturally, did that of Bolton.
The warning signs had been there as soon as the action resumed, Sinclair putting through Danny Graham only for the striker to fire wide. No matter, Gardner was soon gifting them the lead. Swans accepted it ruthlessly,first through Allen in the 49th minute and then through Sinclair's spot-kick eight minutes later. Darren Pratley's return to the stadium he left on a Bosman in the summer was defined by this clumsily conceded penalty as he hauled down Angel Rangel.
Bolton didn't deserve a way back, but were granted one in the 73rd minute. Going into yesterday, Swansea had been proud of their record as the only team in pyramid to have their home goal unbreached. They lasted more than seven hours in the Premier League before it happened and can still claim that no opposing playerhas scored at The Liberty, Graham slicing into his own net from a Chris Eagles centre. There are better ways to see a streak finish, even one which lasted only four-and-a-half games.
It kept the match alive. Sort of. After losing a two-goal lead in the final six minutes last week, Swansea started to panic. Except Bolton had no means of capitalising. Sinclair hit the bar with the net at his mercy, substitute defender Paul Robinson cleared Graham's rasping effort, and in the final seconds Graham scored his fourth in as many games to give the scoreline a warranted top-heaviness.
"You saw the difference between last week, we hid the ball for 10 minutes after the own goal," said Swansea's manager, Brendan Rodgers. "Even against 10 men that was going to be an examination... I thought against 10 or 11 we were the better side."
Swansea (4-3-3): Vorm; Rangel, Monk, Williams, Taylor; Gower, Britton, Allen, Dyer (Moore, 90), Graham, Sinclair.
Bolton (4-4-1-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Wheater, Gardner, Eagles, Reo-Coker, M Davies, Petrov (Robinson, 52); Pratley (Kakuta, 75); Ngog (Klasnic, 75).
Referee Mark Clattenburg.
Man of the match Allen (Swansea).
Match rating 6/10.
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