Credit must go to Bolton Wanderers for never giving up

Bolton Wanderers may have been fortuitous in the first of three consecutive league wins, after the officials at the Reebok Stadium had failed to spot a goal while 0-0 scored by QPR, but there was nothing lucky about them beating an in-form Blackburn Rovers 2-1 two weeks later.

Manager Owen Coyle paid tribute to the performance by his players just seven days after Fabrice Muamba’s cardiac arrest. He said, “The spirit and quality we showed was fantastic. It was difficult when Blackburn pulled it back to 2-1, given what has happened over the last week and the mental fatigue that can cause, but every single player stood strong.”

Three further points at bottom-of-the-table Wolves last weekend marked Bolton’s best run of form in the league since December 2006. Now they are a point better off than QPR, Blackburn and Wigan Athletic and with a game in hand. They’re not out of trouble yet but avoiding defeat at home to Fulham this weekend will further help their cause, and potentially leave that trio of clubs immediately below them fighting for the one remaining place in the top flight for next season.

Tim Ream signed from New York Red Bulls as Chelsea bound Gary Cahill’s replacement along with loan acquisition Ryo Miyaichi from Arsenal this winter. Both players have helped improve Bolton’s fortunes with the exception of a home defeat (their ninth and fortunately for them their most recent this season) to Wigan in February. Coyle immediately introduced Ream to the side after that game.

Meanwhile, Martin Jol’s Cottagers ended their run of three consecutive defeats last weekend with victory at home to Norwich despite losing their January signing Pavel Pogrebnyak to an early injury. That led to a debut for former Liverpool youth team player Alex Kacaniklic who had spent the first three months of the year on loan at Watford in the Championship.

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