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Dublin: 7 °C Saturday 19 October, 2019


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Welcome to our coverage of a crucial relegation clash. With the table so congested at the bottom of the table, any sort of win in a game like this can go a long way to deciding the battle against the drop. All of which makes it almost irrelevant that QPR will be looking for revenge for their 4-0 defeat at home to Bolton on the opening day of the season. Mark Hughes, after all, wasn’t in charge then… and he badly needs to kickstart his reign at the club.

The teams:

Bolton: Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts, Reo-Coker, Mark Davies, Pratley, Miyaichi, Ngog, Petrov. Subs: Jaaskelainen, Muamba, Eagles, Knight, Kevin Davies, Klasnic, Sordell.

QPR: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Traore, Barton, Diakite, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Cisse, Zamora. Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Mackie, Buzsaky, Young, Taiwo.

Referee: Martin Atkinson

It’s off.

Even enough start, both sides coming out with intent. Might be goals in this.

Bolton have gained the upper hand here with the tricky little Mark Davies beginning to dictate affairs. A series Miyaichi corners cause QPR more problems but they just about hold strong.

And that’s a likely precursor as to what this game will be about: open football. QPR immediately go down the other end with Joey Barton’s dangerous strike just deflected wide.

And Bobby Zamora smacks the crossbar! QPR beginning to come back into this now.

Drama! And of the sort that decides relegation battles. Clint Hill meets a corner, the ball is at least a yard over the line but Bogdan pushes it onto the bar and out and the linesman rules it’s not a goal. Could well end up big.

Clint Hill involved in drama at the other end now. His challenge on David N’Gog saw the striker go down in the box but rather too easily. Martin Atkinson waves play on.

GOAL! Bolton 1-0 QPR

And, as Al Pacino said in Any Given Sunday, that’s football. Bolton, who should be a goal behind, go a goal ahead. After good work at the edge of the box, Petrov crosses perfectly for Pratley who guides a header into the net.

Just before half-time, QPR almost force an equaliser as more good work between Cisse and Zamora results in Onouha testing Bogdan. The keeper manages to diver it though.

Half-time: Bolton 1-0 QPR

An even game but QPR will feel rightly aggrieved that hasn’t been reflected in the scoreline. Clint Hill’s header was clearly over the line, only for Pratley to then clearly hit the net at the other end. There’s more in this though.

Here’s the picture that could end up settling a season at the bottom… and make QPR fans very angry.

GOAL! Bolton 1-1 QPR

And this time things do even themselves out! Within minutes of the second half starting, Djibril  Cisse equalises but he was clearly offside when the pass was played and the linesman was directly in line with him. Awful call. Arguably worse than the one over the line.

Mathematically, it apparently takes 3,000 games for “decisions to even themselves out” as opposed to over the course of a season. That took a matter of minutes.

Game has slowed slightly since the goal, with both teams more cautiously playing out a midfield struggle.

A draw would be very much in-keeping with this relegation fight. No one seems capable of pulling away.

David Wheater makes a crucial intervention after Green dallies on the ball outside the Bolton box. Cisse was just waiting to pounce.

The game on a knife-edge at the minute. Bolton probably have the better of the ball- just – but QPR, and particularly Cisse, look menacing.

QPR coming into it a lot now. Given their difficult run-in, they really need to pick up wins in games like this. Not least for Mark Hughes to properly kick-start his management ofthe club.

So close  for QPR as all sorts were going in that Bolton box: a near-goalline clearance, a brilliant interception and a potential handball and penalty! It’s Cisse’s initial cross that causes the panic, but Bolton just about get it away!

End to end stuff now, Onouha just blocking an Eagles shot there at the QPR goal.

GOAL! Bolton 2-1 QPR

A potentially huge moment in this campaign! Four minutes from time, Ivan Klasnic is released in the QPR box and finishes coolly and clinically to put Mark Hughes’s side in real danger of condemnation to the Championship. Things just got very real for Mark Hughes.

Should be noted that Owen Coyle specifically went to win this game by throwing on an extra attacker. Risk and reward. Kudos.

Unsurprisingly, though, Coyle now reverts by taking off N’Gog for Fabrice Muamba. Into the 89th minute.

And QPR have reason to feel aggrieved again! Eagles handles the ball in the box only for Onouha to trundle on. Just inside the box, though, Reo-Coker comes right through the back of him.

Thirty seconds left with QPR laying siege…

This feels like an end-of-April game.

FULL-TIME: Bolton 2-1 QPR

A huge result in the relegation battle, with that reflected by the frantic nature of the action towards the end. QPR have a right to feel aggrieved and they deserved a draw… but the reality is that they look like a team unsure of everything about themselves except the fact that they’re in a real dogfight. Bolton, by contrast, have given themselves a huge and timely lift.

Bolton jump out of the relegation zone but they’re still only a point ahead of Blackburn and Wolves, and two ahead of Wigan – all in the relegation zone and all with a game in hand.