Sturridge's late strike leaves Wolves sinking

Bolton Wanderers 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 0
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The Independent Online

Owen Coyle's decision to take Daniel Sturridge to Bolton on loan from Chelsea already looks a very shrewd one thanks to the youngster's dramatic debut here last night.

Sturridge needed just 22 minutes after being introduced as a second-half substitute to settle this match and earn Bolton a first Premier League victory in six games.

Sturridge, who arrived at the club just 48 hours previously on the final day of the January transfer window, came off the bench to stun Wolverhampton Wanderers, whose defeat was entirely of their own making.

A rush of blood from defender Ronald Zubar, whose back pass fell short of his goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey, invited Sturridge to settle the game and it was an opportunity the striker was not going to waste.

Coyle said: "It's always nice after the event when you bring in a player you believe can score goals and he pops up on his debut to do that. But more than that it was pleasing what he brought to the game before the goal. He was lively, he had a trick or two and it certainly augurs well for the rest of the season and his future.

"It would have been a travesty if we had not got the three points with the chances we had," Coyle added. "Their goalkeeper made three or four top-class saves.

"We just needed a little bit of composure. I think because of the dip in our results in January there was always going to be some anxiety but it's a massive three points for us."

Coyle and his Wolves counterpart Mick McCarthy would probably have left the Reebok Stadium with mixed emotions before the late drama, since this was a game either side could have won, though in truth neither truly deserved to.

Bolton had most of the chances, but their front pairing of captain Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander, so prolific earlier in the season, continue to malfunction. Both missed opportunities they might have expected to convert and between them have now contributed just one goal during Bolton's last six games.

Wolves will regret how Matt Jarvis wasted a simple chance after just 10 minutes before, two minutes from time, Kevin Doyle struck the post. Elmander saw an effort pushed away by Hennessey and the Wolves goalkeeper also saved from Matt Taylor before half-time to keep his team level. Hennessey made two more critical saves in the second half, the first an instinctive one-handed block to prevent Lee Chung-yong from turning Davies' header over the line, the second to stop Christophe Berra scoring in his own goal.

When Doyle's shot wrong-footed Jussi Jaaskelainen and hit the post it highlighted the fine margins of the game, confirmed when, in stoppage time, Sturridge settled the contest.

Defeat returned Wolves to the bottom of the table, and McCarthy was clearly unhappy with the manner of defeat. "I feel lousy and I feel robbed, he said. "We had a point in our pocket but we gave it away."

Bolton (4-4-2 ):Jaaskelainen; Robinson, Cahill, Knight, Ricketts; Taylor (Sturridge, 68), Holden (Muamba, 90), M Davies, Lee (Moreno, 68), K Davies, Elmander. Substitutes not used Bogdan (gk), Wheater, Petro, Klasnic.

Wolves (4-5-1): Hennessey Elokobi, Stearman, Berra, Zubar Jarvis (Ward 75) Edwards (O'Hara 75), Henry, Jones, Hammill (Ebanks-Blake, 89) Doyle. Substitutes not used Hahnemann (gk), Craddock, Fletcher, Milijas.

Man of the match Wayne Hennessey.

Match rating 7/10.

Referee P Walton (Northamptonshire).

Attendance 18,944.

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