Bolton 2 Blackburn 1: Wheater double helps Trotters out of drop zone
17:34 GMT, 24 March 2012
Bolton paid tribute to Fabrice Muamba in the best way possible by claiming a victory over Blackburn that lifted them out of the Barclays Premier League's bottom three.
Two first-half headers from centre-half David Wheater, the first brace of his career, were enough to repel Blackburn's rally after Steven Nzonzi had pulled one back after half-time.
On target: Wheater netted both of Bolton's goal to secure a precious three points
Bolton: Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts, Mark Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley, Miyaichi, Ngog (Klasnic 78), Petrov. Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Alonso, Eagles, Knight, Kevin Davies, Sordell.
Scorer: Wheater 28, 35.
Blackburn: Robinson, Lowe, Dann, Hanley, Martin Olsson, Formica (Dunn 65), Nzonzi, Pedersen, Marcus Olsson, Hoilett, Yakubu. Subs not used: Bunn, Modeste, Petrovic, Orr, Goodwillie, Vukcevic.
Booked: Lowe, Marcus Olsson.
Scorer: Nzonzi 56.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Securing back-to-back wins for the
first time this season was a fitting conclusion to an emotional week at
the Reebok Stadium, following the cardiac arrest suffered by Muamba in
an FA Cup tie at Tottenham seven days ago.
That results elsewhere also went
Bolton's way added extra gloss on a day that the home fans started and
finished by singing Muamba's name.
Any fears Coyle had about the
reaction of his players to the emotions of the day would have been
dismissed by the positivity in the ground before kick-off.
From the moment a montage of the past
week was played on the stadium's big screen through to the pre-match
handshakes, loud applause and chants rang out in honour of Muamba, who
remains in intensive care but whose situation is so much better than it
might have been.
Bolton fed off the home crowd's enthusiasm, with Martin Petrov a particular threat down the left.
Show of support: Bolton players wear Muamba shirts during the warm-up
The Bulgarian hit a blistering 25-yard drive that was beaten away by
Paul Robinson in the opening stages, while Trotters striker David Ngog
was also causing a nuisance of himself.
But it was just as Bolton paused from
breath after the early frenzy that they enjoyed a sizeable piece of
Tribute: Muamba's name and number were held up by supporters at the Reebok
Television replays showed Wanderers defender Gretar Steinsson had
clearly ended Junior Hoilett's charge into the box illegally, but
referee Andre Marriner did not have the same view and waved play on.
One superb Tim Ream clearance later and Bolton found their stride again, and soon grabbed the goals the occasion demanded.
Backing: A tribute to Muamba is seen on the large screen
Petrov's cross provided the chance,
his delivery inadvertently flicked on by Nzonzi for Wheater to head in
at the far post for his first Premier League goal since August 2008.
Seven minutes later the towering centre-back was celebrating another.
Make mine a double: David Wheater fires Bolton two goals up
This time the delivery came from Ryo
Miyaichi's superb corner, which flew perfectly onto the head of the
Bolton man who made no mistake with a thumping finish.
Defending crosses was clearly not a
strength for Blackburn as within minutes of the restart Ngog rose to
meet one from Petrov but flashed it over the bar.
Back in the game: Steven Nzonzi made it 2-1 with this header
Bolton also should have scored when
Miyaichi picked Davies out from the right, but, unmarked and only six
yards out, the midfielder glanced his header wide.
That would have been bad enough even
if Blackburn had not already scored, but Nzonzi had found the net rather
too easily after Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan failed to impose himself
on a packed penalty area.
Together: The home side form a huiddle prior to kick-off
Bolton immediately looked to restore
their two-goal cushion and a Petrov corner found Darren Pratley all on
his own, only for the midfielder to miss the target.
It was the trigger for a sustained
Blackburn assault on the Bolton goal, which almost brought them an
equaliser as Aiyegbeni Yakubu bundled narrowly wide.
Fans' favourite: Bolton supporters show their backing for Muamba
But Bolton survived the late onslaught, however, to claim a poignant win and three crucial points in the battle to stay up.
Talking point: Steve Kean remonstrates with the linesman