Bolton Wanderers 0
- Match reports
- Sat 22 Mar 2008, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
City gained a point but failed to threaten struggling Bolton much until the introduction of Elano & Caicedo after the break. The Brazilian forced a couple of saves from Al Habsi, while Caicedo saw his shot cleared off the line. The hosts hit the post early on and in general had the upper hand but failed to seriously worry City until Davies' chance was cleared off the line by Petrov is stoppage time at the end of the match.
Two changes for City from the side that started against Spurs, Elano & Castillo dropping to the bench with Vassell and Petrov, back from his ban, replacing them.
There is a bitterly cold wind howling in off the West Pennine moors, which could have an effect on today’s proceedings. Bolton are desperate for their first league win since the start of February, but of course City are still in the hunt for a place in Europe, either through the UEFA Cup or the Intertoto.
Bolton started brightly, Diouf driving a shot straight at Hart in the first minute, and then the same player’s dangerous cross was hooked away by Onuoha at the last second.
The ever-popular Senegalese international was at the heart of two great chances for the hosts around the seven-minute mark. Firstly his low cross from the right nearly found Taylor, forcing Corluka to concede a corner, which Diouf took. Gretar Steinsson’s powerful header from the set piece rattled the right hand post and Bolton could not make anything from the rebound.
City took a while to get into their stride, but they went close at a corner of their own on 16 minutes. Petrov’s cross was headed out to Stephen Ireland, whose on-target volley was headed around the post by Gardner with keeper Al Habsi struggling to get across.
Clear cut chances were thin on the ground for the next part of the match, the only moment of note coming when Benjani charged down Al Habsi’s clearance – but the rebound went nearer the corner flag than the Bolton goal.
Kevin Nolan was the first player to see yellow on 34 minutes when he caught Vedran Corluka late as the Croatian cleared near the touchline. The home fans were unhappy with the length of time the City player was treated, and this in turn spurred on City’s support to out-sing them.
Petrov’s driving run with three minutes to the break ended with a decent cross that Andy O’Brien had to put behind for a corner, City’s eight of the half – but like all the others City could make nothing from it.
The half ended with Ricky Gardner being stretchered off after falling awkwardly while being tackled by Darius Vassell.
The second half kicked off with the arrival of the threatened snow sweeping across the stadium from the north.
City looked potent on the counter-attack, and with 10 minutes gone the referee waved play on when Benjani was fouled in midfield to allow Petrov to eventually cross from the left, the ball just to far ahead of Stephen Ireland.
Elano replaced the Irishman just afterwards, and within two minutes he had gone close to scoring. Benjani found himself in space but with Petrov free on the left he elected to keep it before finding Elano, whose shot was pushed behind for yet another corner. Once again, City failed to threaten at the set piece.
The little Brazilian was in action at the other end with 18 minutes left, racing back to get ahead of Taylor just in the nick of time. Now it was Bolton’s turn for a succession of corners, but like City they could take advantage as their fans became more and more agitated.
It was Joe Hart to the rescue with 12 minutes left on the clock, the keeper throwing himself in front of Diouf as the striker flicked the ball towards the goal from a tight angle.
We had a flurry of excitement with eight minutes left, when Elano’s fierce drive brought a good save out of Al Habsi, and seconds later Caicedo’s volley from close range was cleared off the line by Joey O’Brien amid chaotic scenes the Bolton penalty area. All this followed Kevin Davies going close at the other end before Petrov raced downfield to set up City’s chances.
Corluka was still being booed by Bolton’s fans with two minutes left as he crossed for Benjani, the Zimbabwean’s header flying just over the Bolton bar.
Stoppage time saw the hosts pour forward in search of three much-needed points, and they went agonisingly close when Davies’ header was cleared off the line by Martin Petrov.
The game ended just afterwards, with neither side that happy with a point that may not have really helped them in their respective quests. The home side could count themselves a touch unlucky after striking the woodwork and having that chance cleared off the line at the death, while City’s best chances came from their substitutes Elano and Caicedo.
mcfc.co.uk man of the match - Gelson Fernandes.