Date:Sunday March 16 2008
The talk over the last couple of days had been of Latics possible entry into the UEFA cup courtesy of the fair play rule.
After today`s performance by Mr Tanner our best hope for a European adventure is the pre season tour of Austria.
Latics kept the same starting line up as had kept clean sheets on the previous two games against Man City and Arsenal with Koumas once again preferred to Kilbane on the left wing.
Whether we have now seen the last performance of Koumas in a Latics shirt is open to question as a reckless tackle in only the third minute of the game resulted in a straight red card leaving Latics with the onerous tasks of playing the rest of the game with ten men.
Steve Bruce was livid with the decision but reports from fans in the West stand echoed my own East stand opinion that it was the correct decision (probably the only one Mr Tanner got right all afternoon).
Latics chose to keep the same formation with King dropping back in to midfield when we were defending to support the industrious Brown and Palacios.
Brown gave a typical industrious committed performance getting into the Bolton midfield`s face literally in the case of Campo as they both eyeballed each other for what seemed like an eternity with Mr Tanner seemingly oblivious to what was going on.
Latics creativity was restricted to Melchiot and Valencia, Valencia once again proving what a bargain buy he is giving Gardener a torrid time, winning several corners at which Latics looked dangerous.
Bolton were strangely ineffective in the first half giving Heskey too much room and Emile had one of his best games of the season.
Latics had several chances to go in front one of the best falling to King who when presented with a cross which required only a good contact on the ball scuffed his shot straight at the Bolton keeper.
Two minutes before the goal Scharner placed a bullet header towards the gaol which was cleared off the line, whether it crossed the line is debateable but it was just one in a line of controversies in the game
The goal when it came was once again down to Latics` best two attacking players Melchiot and Valencia.
Valencia won a throw in which Melchiot put at the feet of Heskey who lashed the ball past the Bolton keeper for his first goal since August.
The teams went off to a mixture of vocal responses, cheers for the tremendous first half performance and boo for the referee fro his inconsistent decisions.
Bolton started the second half with a more focussed game plan of trying to stretch Latics out wide and when that failed they punted the ball up field in the hope that Davies et al would be able to make the extra man count.
On several occasions they came close the best chance falling to Davies who seemed certain to score but for a superb save at his feet by Kirkland.
Kirkland was in imperious form all afternoon and on the odd occasions that he was beaten from set pieces he was saved first by Brown (Bolton fans screamed for handball but very little appeals from the team) and buy Edman clearing off the line.
Latics took the ineffective King off once again replacing him with Kilbane and switching to a 4-4-1 formation which meant defending deep and attempting to catch Bolton on the break was the game plan for the rest of the afternoon.
On occasion it nearly worked both Valencia and Palacios going close on t e break whilst once again Melchiot showed sublime skills more suited to an international centre forward rather than a right back.
The final whistle was greeted with euphoria from the Latics fans on a team performance built on grit, determination and team spirit and dismay form the Bolton fans who must have realised that their chances of escaping the drop are diminishing daily if they couldn`t beat ten men.
This was Latics` fourth consecutive game without conceding a goal and they have now garnered 8 points out of the last 12.
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Date:Sunday March 16 2008
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