There are a number of rules concerning avoiding relegation but among the 24-carat variety is grasping as many opportunities and points as possible at home. Bolton are striking fools' gold in this respect.
A draw against a team with title aspirations is not to be despised but this draw means Wanderers have not won at the Reebok in the League since they beat Liverpool in the third game of the season and have gained only 11 points and scored only nine goals at home. Fortress Bolton it is not.
Things could have been worse because Chelsea twice took the lead through Eidur Gudjohnsen and Mikael Forssell and had an effort by John Terry cleared off the line by Simon Charlton in injury time. Kevin Nolan, with his third goal in as many matches, secured Bolton's fourth point in nine games 11 minutes from time, but they still slip to fifth from bottom and are just three points above the relegation places.
"We need to start winning games," Sam Allardyce, the Bolton manager, said. "And to do that we can't afford to be coming back from behind all the time. We need to get ahead and then make sure we make it difficult for teams to break us down."
Bolton have fallen spectacularly since September when they were top of the Premiership and if the sense of a warmer past is resonant, it was intensified for the home supporters when the teams were announced. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was missing with a hip injury but there in the Chelsea ranks was a former home favourite, Gudjohnsen, who had to leave the Reebok to ease the financial position.
He was warmly applauded before the kick-off, which was fortunate because there was little else to get animated about in a first half that was as enticing as the icy wind blowing off the aptly named Winter Hill. Both teams seemed too aware of their frailties and it was 15 minutes before the first shot, and that was from a mistake rather than a piece of skill. Jody Morris crossed, Jussi Jaaskelainen failed to catch as Gudjohnsen rose with him and Frank Lampard, following up, should have scored. Instead the Bolton goalkeeper recovered to block.
Bolton's first attack came after 31 minutes as they took advantage of Marcel Desailly's injury to push Nolan ahead of the Chelsea back four. With only Carlo Cudicini to beat, however, he managed to shoot straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper. Six minutes from half-time Bruno N'Gotty was closer when he won an aerial battle from Per Frandsen's free-kick. The Frenchman did not have a clue where the ball had gone but it trickled by a post anyway. The untidy effort was in keeping with a scruffy 45 minutes.
If the first half had been quiet, the second began explosively with three goals in 20 minutes. Henrik Pedersen had shot wastefully wide after Michael Ricketts' dummy had put him clear and that miss seemed doubly expensive for Bolton when Chelsea took the lead eight minutes after the restart. Almost inevitably Gudjohnsen was the scorer, passing to the right to Mario Stanic and then wandering nonchalantly into the area for the return. Quite what N'Gotty was thinking about is anyone's guess but he seemed aware of the danger only when the pass went beyond him and his lunge was too late to stop Gudjohnsen turning and shooting into the far corner.
Bolton nearly equalised straight away, Terry clearing Pedersen's shot off the line, but three minutes later they levelled the score. Nolan was tackled on the edge of the area and the ball ricocheted to Ricketts, who calmly dribbled round Cudicini.
Gianfranco Zola was withdrawn after 64 minutes, yet if that inevitably reduced the variety of Chelsea's attacks, no one could quibble with the impact of Forssell, who scored with his first touches, turning adroitly and then beating Jaaskelainen with a low shot from the edge of the area. Things looked bleak for Bolton but Nolan salvaged a point in the 79th minute when he volleyed in from 15 yards after the German Fredi Bobic had made his first telling contribution for his new club, winning a header.
"Bolton deserved a draw," Claudio Ranieri, the Chelsea manager, conceded, "but when you take the lead and then go ahead again it feels like two points lost." Bolton, you feel, are ruing lost points even more.
Bolton Wanderers 2 Chelsea 2
Ricketts 56, Nolan 79, Gudjohnsen 53, Forssell 65
Half-time: 0-0 Attendance: 23,891Reuse content