Date: 13th December 2010 at 12:05pm
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I’ll let you into a little secret. My mother, Mrs X Snr, is what you would call a ‘fair weather supporter’. This doesn’t mean that she will only go to see a game if it’s nice weather, as last weekend’s trip to Eastlands will show. It’s that she will only go and see Bolton if we are in the Premier League.

This came out early on in her Bolton Wanderers supporting career, when she said, the day before the final game of the 2002-03 season, that she wasn’t going as she wouldn’t be able to stand the tension and that if we went down, she didn’t want to come to T’Reebok to watch the likes of Tranmere.

She didn’t say Tranmere specifically. I just use it to illustrate a point.

She also has other interests and so this weekend she found herself in Harrogate and with Mrs X firmly ensconced back in the smoke, yesterday’s game was the first home one that I have attended alone since we beat Norwich 1-0 in Division One on April 21 2001.

You can imagine the amount of swearing I got through yesterday. Virtually ten years of pent up, unable to sweariness. I’ll admit, I’m not proud and my diction and vocabulary are such that I can express myself without the need to resort to the more earthy vernacular. However, when you see Jason Roberts go under a tackle that was, to be fair, a foul, and then hold his head in his hands because the person who had fouled him wasn’t being sent off, I am disappointed to admit I may have joined in the more expletive ridden diatribe that flowed down from the stands.

And if that bit of prose doesn’t win awards, I don’t know what will.

It’s a strange old thing going to a game by yourself. I’ve got used to it living in London, but at away games there is more of a sense of in it togetherness, especially in the bad old days of Gary Megson. Other people who are also by themselves will talk to you. At home games, everybody is with everybody else, and as I drank my Magners at 13:15 yesterday, I remembered the feeling of being a spare part that I used to get pre 2001.

Anyway, to the game. Not much happened first half. In fact, the most excitement at our end of the pitch was when Dioufy came across to put the ball on the corner spot and got a round of applause. Oh, and Mark Davies got booked. You did notice just how much time Blackburn, in particular their goalkeeper, Paul Robinson (no, the other one) time wasted on everything that could be considered to be a dead ball. Unsurprisingly, as pointed out yesterday, Mr Clusterduck didn’t seem to notice them doing this and only added on one minute of injury time.

The best chance of the half came when Zat Knight brought down Jason Roberts, starting the aforementioned whinging, and Pedersen took the free kick. Slight deflection or not, Jussi should have done a lot better than just push the ball out to Gael Givet. Luckily, Givet’s attempt didn’t even manage to go out for a throw in.

First half finished, some people booed. Seriously people, get some sort of grip. The half time draw was done by Henrik Pedersen, who, unfortunately, didn’t do his goal celebration when he pulled out the lucky £850 winning ticket. Shame.

One thing I noticed was an official accompanying Lofty the Lion down the sideline and towards the back of the goal. Did someone from Sky have a word, or was Lofty winding up the Blackburn fans? These questions need to be answered.

Bolton started the second half on the front foot and could have scored when Mark Davies won a free kick on the left hand edge of the Blackburn box and Stuart Holden whipped in a free kick that took a slight deflection off Givet’s head. Paul Robinson (no, the other one) made a regulation save, but it appeared that the game may be hotting up.

One minute later, I went to boiling point. An innocuous ball went up in the air and Phil Jones and Mark Davies went up for it. From my vantage point looking straight at it, it looked like a clash of heads but Mr Clusterduck decided it was a second yellow for the Bolton player. Johan Elmander did that thing where you put your hands into prayer and plead with the referee and Davies hung around long enough for Jones to receive ‘treatment’. As soon as Davies was off, Jones was on his feet like a latter day Lazarus.

It was strange in the first place that Davies and Holden were in the starting line up, and it never really worked. Both are attacking midfield players and while Holden has been performing tracking back duties when Muamba gets caught out of position, there is no doubt that the preferred central midfield duo should be what it has been for the majority of the season.

Naturally, the sending off changed the face of the game. First Olsson was lucky not to get his own red card for kicking Elmander in the face, but, hey, Mr Clusterduck wasn’t about to give a red for dangerous kicking, going on previous form. (Gerrard v Nolan anyone. I hate to labour a point, but it was an assault masquerading as a tackle.) Then Samba rose to head a cross towards goal, but SuperKevinDavies was there to clear off the line. Another corner came across and the ball struck Knight’s arm. I’m a fair man. It was a definite penalty as Knight’s arms had no place being up there.

Still. Never mind.

It seemed, for a minute, that Blackburn were going to be laying siege to the Bolton goal. And then, a long ball came forward, SuperKevinDavies was fouled and, for once, Mr Clusterduck gave a free kick. Sam Ricketts played the ball in, Ryan Nelsen misheaded and the ball fell to Fabrice Muamba.

Suddenly, everything went into slow motion as he seemed to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to position his legs into a shooting position and the whole of the north stand, knowing what was coming, instinctively ducked and traffic was calmed on the M61. Amazingly, he took the ball round Nelsen and hit it crisply into the bottom left hand corner of Robinson’s net. Cue the worst pile on ever.

Almost immediately, it was 2-0. Except it wasn’t. Petrov hooked the ball into the Blackburn net but Holden was adjudged to have fouled Salgado. You would have expected Blackburn to step it up a bit, and while they, naturally, had more of the ball, the couldn’t break down a Bolton defensive who to a man were impressive. And when they did break through, as they did once when Diouf (no, the other one…for God’s sake keep up) fed in the dirty last minute change of minder Dunn, Jussi stood tall.

Naturally, Bolton being Bolton, we didn’t keep a clean sheet. Sam Ricketts, as previously stated, otherwise impressive, was sucked in a little too closely to Jason Roberts who played a nice little ball for Diouf (the other one) and a little clip over Jussi with the aid of a deflection off Cahill and it was 1-1. Cue mad delight on the Blackburn defence and a stoney silence around the ground.

Sensing blood, the Blackburn boys got the ball back to the centre circle tout de suite. The ball was played back to Sam Ricketts, who lobbed a long ball up to SuperKevinDavies. A cushioned header to Stuart Holden who burst in between two defenders and hit an unstoppable shot past Robinson. Suddenly, Sam wasn’t dancing and v-signs and that song about Wanderers masturbating were aimed at the away end.

Somehow, Clusterduck found six minutes of injury time but Blackburn had nothing left. Some wag has since tweeted that these minutes are for each finger on a Blackburn Rovers fan. Three points, sixth place and a nice walk back to the car.

 

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