Coyle still upbeat despite Cahill's impending exit
Bolton Wanderers 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 1
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
The Reebok Stadium
Monday 02 January 2012
Bolton achieved something that has eluded them all season, but still finished the year in last place. Owen Coyle's side eked out their first draw since February but other results ensured that it is going to take vastly improved results – and especially vastly improved home form – to lift them out of the relegation zone.
Coyle remains relentlessly positive, even though one of his main contributors finally seems to be on his way out of The Reebok. Gary Cahill played and captained the side, despite Bolton agreeing a £7m fee with Chelsea. Coyle said he had no qualms about that, as he knew the England defender's attitude would be right – and it was. "He showed the quality that attracts a club like that," he said.
It was also a good afternoon for Cahill's partner in central defence, Zat Knight, to have arguably his most commanding game since arriving at the club. "Zat played very well," said Coyle, "and there's David Wheater waiting for his chance. We've got good players here."
The other bonus for Coyle was the return, after ten months out with a ruptured Achilles, of Sam Ricketts. The former Hull defender immediately improved Bolton's use of the ball from the back but even his manager can hardly have expected him to mark his comeback with his first goal for almost five years.
Coyle's argument throughout this grim autumn has been that things would look up when he got a few key players back. In the meantime, a loan signing would be something, with Josh McEachran of Chelsea one name which is being mentioned.
Wolves have found their temporary reinforcement in Arsenal's Emanuel Frimpong, who could increase their scoring options: they are currently heavily dependent on Steven Fletcher's head. He took advantage of Bolton's one slack moment in defence, heading home a free-kick by Matt Jarvis, whose pace and crossing ability was one of Wolves' main assets.
Wolves could have snatched it at the end, but Bolton were gritty enough to hang on for their point. It's a start, although the Premier League table might say otherwise.
Scorers: Bolton Wanderers Ricketts 22. Wolverhampton Wanderers Fletcher 49.
Substitutes: Bolton Tuncay (Klasnic, 76), K Davies (Ngog, 87). Wolves Edwards 6 (Elokobi, h-t), Doyle 5 (Fletcher, 67), Foley (Hunt, 81).
Man of the match Knight.
Match rating 6/10.
Possession: Bolton 42% Wolves 58%.
Attempts on target: Bolton 9 Wolves 5.
Referee M Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear). Att 20,354.
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