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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 19 September 2020


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The last time these sides met in this competition, it was Bolton who came out on top. Can the mid-table Championship side conjure something similar today?

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Hello everyone. Welcome to our live coverage of what could be a pretty solid Cup clash. Neil Lennon’s side are 15th in the Championship but surely will be motivated by what’s already gone on today. Manchester City and Chelsea have both been eliminated – how’s that for magic of the Cup?

Let’s get to the line-ups, shall we? Here’s what the home side have to offer.

So, the big news from the guests is that 37 year-old Emile Heskey will start up front alongside another veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen.

A number of changes for Liverpool, as expected. Remember, they have the League Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea next Tuesday. Glen Johnson and Joe Allen are back for the first time since mid-December while Gerrard has been rested completely.

Pretty bleak reading. 5 of the top-ten already gone. One has been forced into a replay. Four still to play.

We’re just a few moments away from kick-off here. Rodgers singing the praises of Coutinho in advance of this. He and Sterling will surely have big roles to play here.

As the teams flash up on screen again, I’m reminded that the Bolton side features ex-New York Red Bulls centre-back Tim Ream and they have ex-LFC man Jay Spearing on the bench…

On BT Sport, Gary McAllister feels Heskey will want to bully Liverpool’s back-three. If he scores, things will get crazy.



Early set-piece for the guests. And the obligatory first reference to Bolton’s ‘big men’ and how they can cause problems. Liverpool deal with it though. Little difficulty.


The Bolton corner causes problems as Heskey is the target at the near post. It takes Liverpool a few attempts to get it clear as the visitors try and get among the Reds in these opening exchanges. Bright start from them.


Just a little warning for Bolton there. Sterling has some space, looks up and tries to knock it through for Lallana to race onto. Nice idea but doesn’t quite come off. But, Lennon’s side can’t commit too much in key areas or they’ll likely be caught in transitions.


And Bolton have just forced another corner. Liverpool need to stop playing into the opposition’s hands so much.


CLOSE! Henderson cracks a shot from distance – does well to get over the strike. It arrows towards Bogdan’s left post but the keeper gets across and pushes it away. First decent opportunity.


BOOKING! Mills takes down Sterling and he’s going to have to watch himself. Long way to go and Sterling knows he has the beating of him when one v one.


BOOKING! After doing well initially, Bolton have struggled in the last few minutes. Now Vela goes in the book after dragging down Joe Allen.


What. A. Ball. From Jose Enrique. From left-back, he spots the run from Sterling in behind and curls a superb pass right into his path. But with support in the middle, the attacker’s attempted cross is blocked by the Bolton defence and they get it clear.


Enrique pops again on the left, driving in a decent cross from the left. It was Coutinho and Sterling combining again just moments before. Things nicely ticking over for Liverpool here…


This doesn’t look good. Coutinho goes in with a challenge and comes off clutching his thigh. He may have tweaked something. We’ll keep our eyes peeled to see if he’s struggling or if he’s able to run it off.


First real involvement for Gudjohnsen as he forces his way down the touchline but his route is finally blocked off and it rolls out for a corner. From the delivery, nothing develops and a tame header at the far post is way too high.


Good work by Bolton on the counter and Heskey and Gudjohnsen are both involved. But when the ball is pushed wide, the service is poor again. Can thumps it out of play but when the visitors get in a good position from a cross, it fails to beat the first man. Heskey needs service and he’s got none so far, except from set-pieces.


CLOSE! Sterling is released once again as Liverpool break on the counter. He cuts inside, always looking to get the shot in. Eventually though, he’s crowded out and a Bolton body gets in the way. 


CLOSE! Oooh. Dean Moxey is close to giving Bolton the lead here. A free-kick from the right isn’t cleared properly and drops nicely for him to take on his left. He catches it perfectly as it bounces off the turf. Everyone thinks it’s in as it arrows towards Mignolet’s near post but, right at the last minute, it veers wide.  


CLOSE! It’s end-to-end at the moment. Back come Liverpool with Sterling wide left. It seems that he’s taken too much out of it but he dinks it a superb cross to the far post. It’s nodded back inside to Adam Lallana who seems certain to score. But credit to Bolton. They don’t dive in or do anything rash and force Lallana backwards. Eventually, it breaks to Glen Johnson at the edge of the area and his left-foot strike is relatively easy for Bogdan.


That’s a nice sight. The TV camera picks out Daniel Sturridge. He’s almost ready to return to action.


It’s been an enjoyable half. Plenty of action but Bolton have done well. They haven’t panicked when Liverpool have found good positions in the box and the hosts haven’t been able to find much inspiration in the eighteen-yard area.


A few moments ago, Heskey did well in midfield. A couple of passes later, the ball was spread wide right. And Feeney’s cross was awful – drifting straight into Mignolet’s gloves. That’s where Lennon needs a change. The distribution from wide areas has been abysmal from the guests.


Ah, yes. Your latest Mignolet ‘incident’. A long ball is played forward, he charges out and takes the ball on his chest. He tries to take a touch or several but doesn’t know a Bolton player is snapping at his heels. Thankfully for Liverpool, he manages to half-clear and no-one anticipates quickly enough to drive a strike towards the un-guarded goal.



A strange half. Liverpool have dominated, certainly. Playing on the counter suits Coutinho and Sterling but not sure how it benefits Lallana, who likes to buzz around the pitch as much as the other two. The latter has been pretty anonymous and they really lack a presence in the area. Lots of good approach play but Bolton have got bodies back and kept their discipline when Liverpool have found good positions in the box.

Ultimately, Liverpool have been reduced to long-range efforts with Bogdan saving well from Henderson. Equally though, Moxey sent a great effort narrowly wide for Bolton so not much between them re: chances created.




SUBSTITUTION! Markovic (on) – Enrique (off)

My first instinct was ‘that’s an injury’ because I thought Enrique did well in the opening period (certainly better than he’s been for a while) but maybe Rodgers wants something a little different? Straight swap, by the way.


CONTROVERSY! We’ve just heard referee Kevin Friend (via an on-pitch microphone) admit to an error in not giving Bolton a free-kick. Now, I think, he’s made another mistake. Mills, the Bolton captain, takes down Markovic as he gets a vital touch to run through towards goal. Mills has already been booked. But Friend waves play on.

On the replay, it’s pretty conclusive. There’s contact. Mills knows what’s doing. And he’s very lucky. It would’ve been a free-kick but it’s a red card. Let-off for Bolton.


CLOSE! Liverpool are almost in. Coutinho does brilliantly to swivel, look up and bend a gorgeous through-ball into Sterling’s path with the outside of his right-boot. But it’s probably 60/40 in Bogdan’s favour and the keeper races from his line and smothers.


SUBSTITUTION! Wilkinson (on) – Heskey (off)

Republic of Ireland U21 international Conor Wilkinson replaces Heskey. No dream return for the veteran but he’s done well. His touch was good, nice few touches further out the field but he’s got absolutely no service. FA Cup debut for the youngster.


VERY CLOSE! Bogdan has been very, very solid so far and he’s pulled off his best save of the game from Coutinho. Lots of pressure from Liverpool moments before with Bolton making a couple of decent blocks. But the Brazilian curls a superb shot towards the bottom corner and the keeper gets down and pushes it away. The rebound isn’t dealt with by Moxey and Manquillo intercepts. He has to score! But drags the shot wide. Dear me.  


Frustrating for Liverpool. I just wonder if Bolton can nick something. Because as much as the hosts are creating along the fringes, they’re taking so much out of the ball when they’re in good positions. Sterling has been the biggest culprit. Markovic and Coutinho set him up. But he jinks inside, jinks inside and then tries to play a reverse pass.


CLOSE! Now it’s opening up. And that’s a great chance for Bolton. They do really well on the left. Moxey does well to play the one-two and get in behind. He sends it across, it breaks for Gudjohnsen and he gets under the ball and drives it over the bar. Fantastic chance and if he kept it down, it would’ve been in.


SUBSTITUTIONS! Lucas and Borini (on) – Allen and Manquillo (off)

Rodgers makes his second and third changes of the game and adds a little more offensively with the introduction of Borini.  

VERY CLOSE! That’s an incredible save from Bogdan! It really is a superb stop. One-handed, going the other way and has to change his body position really quickly. It’s great work by Coutinho, another little run. It opens up and he slips it to Borini on the left of the area. He hits it first time, across goal, but Bogdan does brilliantly to tip it away.


SUBSTITUTION! Spearing (on) – (Mills (off)

Is this the story we’ve been waiting for? The ex-Liverpool midfielder comes on for Bolton. Will he end up playing a crucial role?


Neil Lennon has been yelling at his young striker, Conor Wilkinson, to keep possession. He’s just popped up with a little flick-on that almost plays in Gudjohnsen. Corner for Bolton.


Just heard Efan Ekoku (who’s co-commentating) say that this is tailor-made for Rickie Lambert. Except Liverpool have already used all their substitutes. #Facepalm.


PENALTY CLAIM! Into the last 10 minutes. Henderson pops up in space. Plays a little one-two and tries to reach the return pass and races into the area. Spearing tracks him but he’s struggling. There’s contact. Henderson goes tumbling. But no penalty.


SUBSTITUTION! Wheater (on) – Moxey (off)

Remember when Wheater was well thought of at ‘Boro? He’s been at Bolton four years now. Wow. I feel old.


Tired legs? Maybe. Pratley gets booked as he flings himself at Johnson, desperately trying to close him down. But the delivery is terrible. It breaks for Coutinho at the edge of the area but he gets it all wrong and it’s easy for Bogdan.


Coutinho and Sterling combine again. The Brazilian chips in the cross but Lallana’s header is poor and it sails over the bar.


Some Liverpool fans trickle out of the stadium as the clock ticks towards the 90-minute mark. Bolton certainly deserve a draw here. They’ve been superb defensively.


CLOSE! Henderson’s free-kick is dreadful but so is Bolton’s clearing header. Henderson picks up the loose ball and curls in the cross. Borini’s header narrowly misses the near post.


Lots of huffing and puffing from the hosts. Perspiration, no inspiration. Henderson tries another effort from distance but it’s wayward and the lack of nous in the final third is a real concern.



Well, that was enjoyable. Liverpool’s first half was encouraging but they failed to really make their dominance count after the interval. Yes, Bogdan was terrific but it’s easy to see what Liverpool lack. Great approach play from Coutinho and Sterling at times but no cutting edge. Lallana struggled to impose himself and the replay isn’t something they wanted.

Still, unlike so many other high-profile sides, they’re still in the competition.

Credit to Bolton, they really stood firm at the back, kept their discipline and did the basics right. They forced a couple of half-chances but they’ll relish getting Liverpool back to their own patch.

Thanks, as always, for staying with us this evening.

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan