Thursday 14 December 2017

Flying Kalinic tests limits of Bolton fans’ faith in Coyle

Kalinic 41, Roberts 73, Givet 84

Chris Brereton

EVERY manager gets a honeymoon period at a new club and Bolton Wanderers’ Owen Coyle must be getting increasingly grateful for his.

Early losses to Arsenal – twice – Manchester City and Liverpool were tolerated by Bolton’s fans because of the respective strengths of those sides and the fact Bolton were still finding their feet under Coyle after his arrival last month. There would be jam tomorrow against some of the Premier Leagues lesser teams, or so the theory went.

Blackburn were meant to be one of those but this performance proves that those tomorrows do not exist, and certainly not here, where Blackburn dominated in a 3-0 victory over their local rivals as they won their fourth consecutive home match.

For now, Coyle remains immune from criticism but that will not last forever. “I’m disappointed by that performance, we expect better,” Coyle said, before insisting that Wanderers can still secure their Premier League future despite lying in 18th. “I’ve got no doubts we can get out of it. We have had a bad day. But we have enough about us to win some matches.”

The majority of the first half was as poor as had been feared yet it was still depressing to see those concerns become reality. Pulses did however quicken when Nikola Kalinic hit the post for Blackburn after a Morten Gamst Pedersen header was nodded off the line by Fabrice Muamba.

Kalinic then did better just before the interval as he chased down a fine cushioned header from Pedersen and beat Jussi Jaaskelainen, courtesy of a deflection off Zat Knight. That ended a first half that also saw referee Chris Foy replaced by fourth official Lee Probert due to a muscle strain.

Kalinic’s goal opened the way for Blackburn to dominate the second period and that is what they did as well-taken efforts from Jason Roberts and Gaël Givet underlined exactly how feeble Bolton are at the back.

“It was a fantastic day and a very important three points and we are now looking up rather than down for the first time this season,” said Blackburn manager Sam Allardyce. “We’re making everybody stand up when they come here and they know they’re going to get a tough game.”

Blackburn Rovers (4-5-1): Robinson; Salgado, Nelsen (Grella, 38), Givet, Olsson; Hoilett (Roberts, 60), Andrews, Nzonzi, Pedersen, Diouf; Kalinic (Dunn, 86). Substitutes not used: Brown (gk), Reid, Di Santo, Chimbonda.

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Steinsson, Ricketts, Knight, Robinson; Lee, Muamba (Davies, 59), Gardner, Taylor (Weiss, 59); Elmander (Klasnic, 69), K Davies. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Cohen, A O’Brien, Wilshere.

Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).

Booked: Bolton Wanderers Steinsson.

Man of the match: Pedersen.

Attendance: 23,888.

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