League Cup, Third Round
Cheers Replace Jeers at The Reebok
- Tuesday, September 22, 2009
- Venue: The Reebok Stadium
- Attendance: 8,050
- Referee: Howard Webb
- Herita Ilunga 
- Kevin Davies 
- Extra Time
- Scott Parker 
- Gary Cahill 
- Johan Elmander 
With the last Saturday’s boos still ringing in Megson’s ears expectations were low, as was the attendance, but The Wanderers were not disheartened and made a livley start forcing a corner in less than a minute.
West Ham soon fought back and so the evening was set, both teams were to unleash forays deep into each others halves.
Ivan Klasnic made his first start for The Wanderers and showed that he too could squander golden opportunities. Aside from being apparently dumbfounded when given a gifted opportunity to score Klasnic played with gutsy conviction and hopefully will refine his prowess if partnered with Kevin Davies in the future. Klasnic also forced a great save by West Ham goalkeeper, Robert Green, when he headed a decent cross by Muamba goalward. Ivan certainly made an impression on the home fans as he earned enough respect for his name to be chanted for a spell. It’s still early days yet, but Davies and Klasnic could prove to be the goal-scoring partnership that Bolton boss Megson may have cunningly planned. Okay, perhaps not ‘cunningly planned’ but a fortuitous fluke.
The game as a whole was entertaining yet nerve–wracking — both teams created chances throughout the 90 minutes, it was truly a display of ‘end to end’ football. Bolton looked the more likely to score but all too often crosses into the penalty area were blocked resulting in over 20 corners.
Ten minutes into the second half there came a lull in the game, it seemed that The Wanderers were tiring.
A momentary lapse of concentration led to West Ham’s only goal from what was a terrible corner. Matthew Taylor’s attempt to clear the corner kick was somehow scuffed towards the far post, Herita Ilunga strode in to take the visitors ahead. The ‘lull’ soon passed as the relatively few fans that braved the possibility of further misery provided a chorus of chants that added to the impetus that the unfortunate goal had given the Bolton squad.
As the clock ticked down to full–time yet another Bolton corner was won and Kevin Davies swooped to nod in Matthew Taylor’s cross. Moments later Davies almost headed the ball in again but his close range effort skimmed over the crossbar. In the dying seconds of normal time West Ham fought to get ahead but were denied, mainly by the towering presence of Zat Knight. The 90 minutes were up and Kevin Davies had forced 30 minutes of extra time, all was not lost.
It must be said that Bolton Wanderers looked the better side throughout the additional 30 minutes. Kevin Davies was everso close to scoring but could only direct the ball with his chest rather than stooping low again to score. Gary Cahill struck the left post from a 25 yard free–kick and West Ham were having to defend a torrent of shots by The Wanderers. One such shot by Fabrice Muamba was blocked but the rebound set up Gary Cahill who powered the ball past his England team–mate from just outside the penalty area.
Muamba almost extended Bolton’s lead with a neat lob that caused Robert Green to stretch upwards to deflect the ball over. The England ‘keeper was certainly one of West Ham’s busiest, especially during extra time.
Although West Ham did have a few chances in extra time, few were truly threatening except for Alessandro Diamanti’s fine effort which hit the crossbar 10 minutes from the end which could have taken the game into a penalty shootout. Bolton tend to defend marginal leads but as ‘Que Sera Sera’ was sung they looked determined to increase their lead.
Their determination proved fruitful as two substitutes combined well to get Bolton’s third goal. Chung-Yong Lee, who was kept busy by pestering the Hammer’s defence, managed to whip in a superb cross that was met by a sliding Johan Elmander who duly scored his much awaited first goal of the season.
In the ‘Next Match’ panel I had written;
“Bolton will bring their League Cup hopes to an end when they take on The Hammers at The Reebok Stadium. Either that or our spirits will be lifted with a notable win.”
Fortunately, the latter statement came true and Bolton progress to the next round the draw for which takes place this Saturday (September 25, 2009). The 4th Round takes place in the last week of November.
Megson Praises Fans
“The crowd were up for it right from minute one, sang all the way through, and were right behind the team, even at one down. It certainly played a part in driving the team forward. It meant that no one hid, even when we conceded, and I still felt that we could take the win.”
The Bolton manager also mentions the frustration after Saturday’s game on the official Wanderers website — his words are almost apologetic. Almost!
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What was your opinion of the game? Did Klasnic and Lee impress? Still want Megson out? Feel free to give your opinion.