McCarthy strikes late to rescue point for Rovers

Blackburn Rovers 2 Bolton Wanderers 2
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The Independent Football

Bolton ended their goal drought, but not their old manager's unbeaten start with Blackburn, as Benni McCarthy's 87th-minute goal gave Rovers a late draw. After dominating the first half, Wanderers were soaking up pressure in the latter stages when Christopher Samba won a high ball, Jason Roberts got a touch and McCarthy atoned for his penalty miss.

"I'm disappointed with a point," said the Blackburn and former Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce. "It was a tremendous fightback by the players."

It was the Portuguese striker on loan from Benfica, Ariza Makukula, who had much to do with giving Bolton the early lead with their first Premier League goal for 461 minutes.

Jussi Jaaskelainen launched the ball upfield, Kevin Davies helped it along the right touchline and Makukula latched on to it and cut into the box.

His final touch might have been a cross or a shot, but in any event Matthew Taylor was there at the far post to beat Andre Ooijer to the vital touch. After 35 minutes, Rovers were punished once more for their listlessness. Again the damage was done down the right flank, this time by Gretar Steinsson. Kevin Nolan could not capitalise on the cross, but Kevin Davies, after his first effort was saved, emphatically could.

Blackburn improved with the introduction of Tugay and Roque Santa Cruz after the break, with Bolton too willing to sit back. They paid the price when Steven Warnock overlapped and lashed his shot into the roof of the net.

Four minutes later, Blackburn should have been level. Tugay put an exquisite pass onto Santa Cruz's chest and Jaaskelainen sent the striker sprawling. McCarthy's spot kick was too close to the goalkeeper, who also saved Keith Andrews' follow-up but, according to Allardyce he should have been sent off. After McCarthy made amends, Ryan Nelsen could have won it in injury time with a header onto the base of the post, but Bolton deserved something from the night.

Goals: Taylor (15) 0-1; Davies (35) 0-2; Warnock (66) 1-2; McCarthy (87) 2-2.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Ooijer (Santa Cruz, 57), Samba, Nelsen, Warnock; Emerton, Grella (Mokoena, 89), Andrews, Pedersen (Tugay, 57); McCarthy, Roberts. Substitutes not used: Bunn (gk), Villanueva, Givet, Simpson.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Cahill, Puygrenier, Samuel; K Davies, Basham, Muamba, Nolan, Taylor; Makukula (M Davies, 74). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Smolarek, Gardner, Riga, Shittu, A O'Brien.

Referee: M Dean (Cheshire).

Booked: Blackburn Emerton, Grella, Roberts; Bolton Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Puygrenier, Davies.

Man of the match: Warnock.

Attendance: 25,205.