Eagles keeps Bolton in touch but Coyle calls for one last heave
Bolton Wanderers 1 Swansea City 1
the reebok Stadium
Sunday 22 April 2012
There were missed chances, acts of heroism and frustration from the stands, but Bolton supporters are still none the wiser as to whether their team can beat the drop after Chris Eagles cancelled out Scott Sinclair's opener.
Crucially, Bolton have games in hand on those above them, one of which is away at Aston Villa on Tuesday. "Our destiny is in our own hands," Owen Coyle, the manager, said. "We have five games left and there are 15 points available. Who's to say we can't go and achieve many of them?"
The visitors were ahead inside five minutes and, much to the fury of the natives, did not have to work hard for their lead. As the ball broke in midfield, Leon Britton found Sinclair out wide, before Gretar Steinsson's attempt at shepherding the winger on to his weaker foot gave him time to pick his shot and curl beyond Adam Bogdan. Steinsson later made up for his error, blocking Gylfi Sigurdsson's goalbound effort, but his manager was not impressed with the lack in concentration.
"We gave ourselves an awful lot to do after conceding so early in the game. I've stressed all week that when Sinclair gets the ball he is dangerous on his right foot," Coyle said. "You can show people what is involved but ultimately you have to take that responsibility yourself."
As has been Brendan Rodgers' Achilles' heel throughout this highly entertaining Premier League journey, his side were caught pressing too exuberantly, allowing Martin Petrov to set off in behind Angel Rangel.
The Bulgarian had a lot to do but brilliantly picked out Eagles, who had found a pocket in between central defenders, and he cleverly equalised on the half-volley. Normally a wide man, Eagles was liberated playing off the striker in a central position, constantly proving a menace on and off the ball.
As they continued to uncharacteristically lose possession, Swansea's enthusiasm to win the ball back increased. It almost undid them again when Ashley Williams scythed down Kevin Davies, picking up a caution, and from the free-kick only Michel Vorm's excellent sprawling save from Petrov's drive kept it all square. But Bolton's defensive frailties remained apparent as Williams and Steven Caulker missed good chances, failing to capitalise on goalkeeping errors.
Realising that Bolton wanted, or perhaps needed, to play at a high tempo, Swansea did not get sucked in to a whirlwind battle, choosing to bide their time and quickly breaking when necessary.
The Swansea striker Danny Graham saw a shot well saved before clipping an effort wide, while David Wheater had to be alert at the near post to thwart Sigurdsson. Coyle, obviously aware that Blackburn were beating Norwich, felt it a game his team needed to win, bringing on David Ngog and going two up front.
But they were fortunate to still be level after Bogdan could only palm Graham's shot into Sinclair's path inside the six-yard box before it was scrambled away. Moments later, Graham sent an attempt crashing against the bar.
"My frustration today, particularly in the second half, was when we had good possession, we gave it up too easily," Coyle said. "The decision-making could have been a lot better which would have resulted in more goalscoring opportunities."
Once Ivan Klasnic was introduced, whose goalscoring ability gives Bolton a real hope of avoiding relegation, they looked a different proposition with bodies swarming around him in the penalty area.
The substitute set up Eagles who flashed a shot inches wide after Wheater had gone close, but the game petered out, proving two things: Swansea are learning how to kill a spectacle away from home, and Klasnic needs to be given more than 10 minutes to make an impact if Bolton are to survive.
Bolton (4-2-3-1): Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts; Reo-Coker, M Davies (Vela, 90); Miyaichi (Ngog, 65), Eagles, Petrov; K Davies (Klasnic, 79).
Swansea (4-2-3-1): Vorm; Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Taylor; Allen, Britton; Dyer (Moore, 29), Sigurdsson, Sinclair; Graham (Lita, 79).
Referee Phil Dowd.
Man of the match Sinclair (Swansea).
Match rating 6/10.
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