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Rovers 3 Bolton 4


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Posted by Scotty

For the first time in a long time I actually thought that Souness got his tactics spot on at the start.  We didn't have anyone to play on the left so we matched Bolton's 4-3-3 formation, playing Yorke just behind the front two, and went out to win the individual battles.  And it worked for much of the first half.

Obviously, their first goal was a complete balls up.  Taylor should have cleared the ball instead of trying to let it run out but it wasn't just his fault.  Noone tracked Nolan's run into the box and Friedel was beaten far too easily on his near post for me.

At this point I sat back in my seat and expected a long, depressing afternoon.  A minute later we equalised.  Some good passing in midfield left Gresko one-on-one with their full back.  Gresko cut inside and hit a fantastic shot with the outside of his foot.  Great goal.

We took control then, but always looked open to a breakaway goal.  Douglas and Tugay put themselves about in midfield, Emerton was a constant menace down the right and Gresko was outstanding running from left back.  A great move saw Cole and Yorke combine for the second goal and our constant pressure saw Bolton make a mistake to let Cole in for the third.  

We should have seen it out until half time.  We were the better team at this point, Bolton had to change their tactics (substituting Frandsen) and alter their shape to get back into it.  All we needed was a bit of composure and a few cool heads.  Instead we gifted them a second goal.  Both Tugay and Neill tried to meet a long punt upfield, both of them got in each others way and subsequently missed it, and Djorkaeff was left free to run on goal.  Where was the cover?  Great finish though.

That was the turning point of the game.  They went in at half time with their tails up, we went in looking sorry for ourselves.

We came out in the second half and were instantly put on the back foot by a more determined, hard working Bolton.  They pushed up and condensed play into our half, won all their battles and started to exert some real pressure on our goal.  Chances came and went but we were still in front, and we even had the odd moment on the break to surely seal the win.  

Souness, quite rightly, substituted the ineffective Gallagher - unfortunately he put on Baggio.  I don't remember Baggio touching the ball.  He was hopeless - we might as well have played with ten.  

Eventually the pressure told and we conceded two incredibly soft goals.  We never looked like coming back.

We lacked the necessary composure, bottle and skill to see through a winning position.  Bolton didn't have to do anything special to win it, they just worked hard and pressured us all over the field, we simply couldn't match it.  Our defence was shambolic throughout.  Taylor is a better player than he showed today but he's desperately lacking in confidence.  Don't be fooled into thinking it was all his fault though.  Babbel, the experienced head in the back four, was all over the place today.  Friedel was also poor, his command of the area was non-existant at times.

On the positive side, Gresko was outstanding throughout, Yorke and Cole looked sharp and combined well at times, Douglas showed a lot of promise, and Emerton continued his recent good spell of form.

We're firmly embroiled in a dog-fight at the bottom of the league.  Today's performance in the second half will not be good enough to stay up, we desperately need an injection of quality and steel to see us through to the end of the season.

Edited by Alan75

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