Bolton snatched the unlikeliest of points after a 3-0 deficit at Carlisle United was turned into a 3-3 draw.
Played in the midst of 2,000 probably mostly hungover Cumbrians in driving wind, the hosts had both things in their favour in the first half, and Wanderers were 2-0 down after two early set pieces. Matt Gilks completely misjudged the first, maybe fooled by the wind, but it was poor defending whether or not for both goals.
It was a dreadful first half, Carlisle were seeing everything doing their way, and Omari Patrick made it 3-0 in the 36th minute. At that point, Ian Evatt was sacked in the morning, according to the fans at Brunton Park, and a few Wanderers fans will have been doing the same. Carlisle were largely long ball but it worked perfectly for them. We had the wing against us, and were unable to play the football to keep it on the ground and neutralise the conditions. Like Port Vale, Ricardo Santos was targeted and it worked, almost to the point where I was thinking of taking him off at half time, taking him out of the equation and going to a back four. But I’m not the manager, and Evatt took off Alex Baptiste for Lloyd Isgrove.
We would get one back just before the break – George Thomason got his first goal for the club with a header. That kept us in it for the switch of ends for the second half. Not that it really helped us initially, for most of the second half we were still quite frustrating. But with Carlisle seemingly not sure what they wanted to do, we managed to get one back, a low ball across the area was turned in by Nathan Delfouneso. From there, we were in the ascendancy for the rest of the match, almost immediately after, Peter Kioso levelled after heading in the returning Andrew Tutte’s cross and we were level, in a game where after about half an hour, we would have laughed at such a prospect.
The improbable second half continued, Thomason hit the post, missing out on the chance to win it, while Kioso would then be sent off for a second yellow by the card-happy Ross Joyce. From there, we had to defend the remaining couple of minutes, and Jon Mellish nearly got the winner.
It was our season in one game really – some awful defending from set pieces, but then some moments of quality and ultimately a decent result against a side near the top. But seeing both sides of that coin only serves to prove why we can, and should be doing so much better.