BOLTON’S WOES THERE FUR REAL!
THE appearance of a squirrel on the pitch late in the first half proved fitting as Trotters boss Dougie Freedman was driven nuts by Bolton’s failure to get anything at Wolves.
The furry creature got nearer to Wolves’ goal than Bolton had managed in a one-sided first half, but Bolton dominated the second half, only for keeper Carl Ikeme’s brilliance to frustrate them.
Ikeme produced a string of fine saves, including a penalty stop from Owen Garvan, to leave Bolton teetering above the bottom three and Freedman’s hair in danger of turning as grey as the squirrel.
Under-pressure Freedman said: “We felt we defended very well in the first half, but the wind was taken out of our sails when Wolves scored just before halftime.
“I felt we regrouped, played well, passed the ball around well and Jermaine Beckford was fantastic when he came on.
“The game came down to two moments – one in our box, one in theirs. They took their chance and we missed a penalty.
“If the penalty had gone in, I felt we would have gone on to win the game. It was a poor penalty.
“I liked Owen’s confidence going up and taking it but it was a disappointing penalty.
“In the last 15 minutes, we pegged Wolves right back and created three or four opportunities. We missed our chances and that’s why we didn’t take anything from the game.”
After a quiet start, both sides fashioned good chances.
Wolves skipper Danny Batth’s header was tipped over the bar by Andy Lonergan, while Bolton’s Craig Davies fired a great opening tamely at Ikeme.
Wolves were on top, forcing umpteen corners, but not for the first time this season could not transfer their superiority into goals, with Lee Evans drilling just wide from the edge of the box.
When the opener did come, four minutes before the break, it owed as much to poor Bolton defending as to striker Nouha Dicko’s opportunism.
Dithering duo Lonergan and Dorian Dervite left a deflected cross to each other and Dicko nipped in between them to nod home from a tight angle.
The squirrel’s dart across the pitch provided some light entertainment before Scott Golbourne wasted a great chance to double the lead, missing a far-post header that looked easier to score.
Wolves had a huge let-off on the hour as Batth, already on a yellow, was lucky to escape a second, felling Beckford with an ill-advised lunge in the box but Ikeme saved Garvan’s weak penalty and follow-up.
Ikeme had to make three more saves to preserve the points, alertly tipping Joe Mason’s crossshot on to the bar, staying big to block from Liam Feeney and being in the right place to foil Beckford late on.
It was Wolves’ fourth 1-0 win in eight games, moving them third in the table.
Boss Kenny Jackett said: “You will always take a 1-0 win and we are really pleased with the result.
“First-half we were very good and had a big chance at the start of the second with Golbourne’s header.
“After that it was all Bolton and my keeper made some vital saves.
“I wasn’t sure it was a penalty, I thought it was a very soft one, but my goalkeeper has made a fantastic stop.
“Our aim is promotion and has been from day one.
“It is the aim for three-quarters of the Championship, certainly for Wolves because of being in the Premier League so recently and genuinely being a big club.
“If we can keep our defensive record and up our goals, that will be the ultimate aim, but saying those things and then doing it is difficult in a very good league.”
HANDS ON HEAD: Owen Garvan has his penalty saved by Carl Ikeme and then again on the rebound
STAR TURN: Nouha Dicko celebrates his winning goal