Craig Davies fires Bolton into the top six with winner at Bristol City
BRISTOL CITY ..1 BOLTON ..........2
DOUGIE Freedman had no doubts about the controversial late penalty that maintained Bolton’s play-off charge.
Referee Mark Haywood looked set to wave play on when Matthew Bates tangled with Wanderers striker David Ngog on the edge of the sixyard box 12 minutes from time.
But he then spotted his assistant referee’s flag and after a brief consultation pointed to the spot.
Substitute Craig Davies blasted the penalty past Tom Heaton and City were pushed to the very brink of relegation.
Freedman said:“I've seen the penalty incident again on film and there was definitely a foul on David Ngog. The linesman did well to spot it and I thought the officials as a whole had a good game.
“We met a Bristol City side fighting for their lives and working very hard for each other. It was never going to be easy.
“You need different tools to be a successful team and we showed our battling qualities. The race for play-off places is wide open and I see no reason why Bolton Wanderers should not be in the top six come the end of the season.
“We are reaping the reward of hard work put in months ago. When other people were opening presents on Christmas Day we were training.”
It’s eight wins from their last ten games for Wanderers, who have hit the top six at just the right time.
They were given a second minute boost when Darren Pratley’s cross from the left was allowed to pass across the sixyard box and Liam Fontaine deflected it into his own goal.
While they may be doomed to League One football next season, City were in no mood to surrender and equalised four minutes after the break when the unmarked Steve Davies headed his 13th goal of the season from an Albert Adomah cross.
But there was no way back after Bates, who replaced Fontaine at the break, brought down Ngog and all the efforts of exciting Ghana international Adomah went to waste.
City boss Sean O'Driscoll said: “Our performance had everything I would want apart from enough goals to win the game. The players are showing great spirit in difficult times.
“I was disappointed we didn’t a
get penalty for handball late in the game, but that’s the way it goes. We have a big summer ahead with a number of contracts up, but I can’t ask more in terms of effort than the players showed out there.
“The fans have stuck with us, but we have known for a while that a change of strategy was necessary at the club.
“We are no longer going to throw millions of pounds at trying to buy success. While that is understandable, it hasn’t worked and our recruitment policy must centre on younger players.”
Bolton kept their lead until the interval, despite City creating the better chances.
Stephen Pearson fired wildly over when he should have levelled for the hosts on 21 minutes.
Davies also squandered a great opportunity from Sam Baldock’s 41st minute cross, allowing goalkeeper Adam Bogdan to smother his close range shot.
The pattern continued in the second half with Zat Knight and Craig Dawson outstanding at the heart of an overwoked Bolton defence..
Both sides had to make first half changes through injury as Paul Anderson replaced Pearson for City and Medo went on in place of Jay Spearing for the visitors.
COOL HEAD: Craig Davies scores the second goal for Bolton from the penalty spot
LAST CHANCE: Keeper Tom Heaton goes forward for City