Ricketts frustrated by width of the woodwork

Bolton Wanderers 0 Charlton Athletic 0
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The Independent Football

Bolton could not have tried much harder or come much closer to their first home victory in the Premiership since August, but their sobering decline from the heady days early in the season goes on.

The Wanderers had an abundance of chances and near-misses against opponents who arrived at the Reebok Stadium in prime form. If Michael Ricketts' sudden right-footer had gone in rather than bouncing clear after hitting the underside of the bar, it would not only have been one of the best goals of a prolific season, it would have also have been one of his most valuable.

"Michael's finish was superb,'' said his manager Sam Allardyce. "But the keeper got a touch, it hit the woodwork and came clear. Other chances maybe came to the wrong players.''

Ricketts was certainly not alone in having reason to look frustrated by the end. Per Frandsen and Ricardo Gardner had given Bolton plenty of momentum from midfield and both had seen a couple of efforts saved, while others, notably Rod Wallace with a free header, had failed to take advantage of some promising build-ups.

"We created enough opportunities to win the game but the particular problem for us is converting the chances into goals,'' said Allardyce. "It's left us very frustrated. We dominated them throughout the game, sustained very good pressure and had lots of opportunities.''

Allardyce struggles to explain why scoring at home should be such a difficult proposition for Wanderers. "Away from home we're scoring from our opportunities with some quality finishing,'' he said. "At home we're snatching at them.''

Not that it was entirely a matter of Bolton making and missing the chances to win this game. Charlton arrived fresh from a run of form that has made them London's top dogs in the Premiership, with recent wins over Arsenal, Chelsea and Spurs.

Kevin Lisbie, whose opportunism has shone in that run, could have been the man to score the 10,000th goal in the Premiership a minute after kick-off. Clean through, he could not lift the ball over Jussi Jaaskelainen. The Bolton goalkeeper did splendidly again when Lisbie was sent through by Jason Euell later in the first half, standing his ground well.

Apart from that, the Addicks were happy enough to hang on for a draw, although Claus Jensen almost celebrated his return to the Reebok by scoring with a free-kick, tipped over by Jaaskelainen at full-stretch.

"It wasn't a spectacular game, but we've had a great run of late and we've kept it going,'' said their manager, Alan Curbishley. "You've got to give credit to Bolton. They put us under so much pressure.''

That pressure was at its most intense immediately before and after half-time and again as time ran out at the end. Apart from Wallace's failure to grow the few extra inches he needed, Kevin Nolan also finished weakly and Dean Holdsworth's injury-time header flashed wide. Allardyce was left scuttling around for crumbs of comfort. "That's two clean sheets at home on the trot. If we can maintain that, it will be excellent for us.'' Not as excellent as that elusive home win, though.

Bolton Wanderers 0 Charlton Athletic 0

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