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Sunday 21 September K.O. 16:00



Reebok Stadium | 25th October 2009 13:30

Bolton v Everton

Everton may be short on numbers right now - but the one thing they are not lacking is spirit.

Which is why this defeat is so hard to stomach. David Moyes' injury ravaged squad looked to have secured a point after coming back from two down at the Reebok Stadium.

But a late Ivan Klasnic strike broke Everton hearts and gifted Bolton their first home win of the campaign.

For Everton, it was difficult to come to terms with after fighting back from two down.

You could have named a very impressive side from the players unavailable to face Bolton - with Diniyar Bilyaletdinov and Yakubu the latest additions to a growing injury list.

But, as the manager has said relentlessly this week, the focus should be on the players who are fit.

And here Louis Saha and Marouane Fellaini were the goal heroes - netting in each half after Chung-Yong Lee and Gary Cahill had scored to put Bolton two up inside 25 minutes.

Everton celebrate Fellaini's goalEverton celebrate Fellaini's goal

Their goals and all-round effort deserved more. The side deserved more.

But ultimately Everton's reshuffled defence, which had some heart-in-mouth moments throughout the afternoon, were undone with five minutes left by a quickfire finish from an up-and-under free kick.

Regardless of the reverse, though, there is no denying the Blues' spirit is indomitable. But here it didn't prevail.

Saha's stunning strike from 20 yards just before the half hour looked to have signalled the turnaround. And in the second period a host of chances were created - and one converted with aplomb by Fellaini.

But there is no denying the injury list - take a deep breath - Phil Jagielka, Mikel Arteta, Phil Neville, Victor Anichebe, Yakubu, Steven Pienaar, Joseph Yobo, James Vaughan, Leon Osman and Diniyar Bilyaltedinov.

One player to benefit from the recent crisis is Lucas Neill. The Aussie international is still working his way to full match fitness after missing out on a pre-season. He was drafted in for his first start and occupied the right-back slot, with Tony Hibbert in at left-back.

The new-look defence came under immediate pressure and had headed efforts from Tamir Cohen and Kevin Davies been more accurate the Blues would have found themselves two down inside three minutes.

But the home side were not frustrated for long, with Chung-Yong Lee netting in the 16th minute. It was a disappointing goal to concede, the South Korean firing in with his left foot from a weak centre by Sam Ricketts which Everton failed to intercept.

Saha was able to produce a cross of far better quality minutes later as the Blues went in search of an equaliser. Frustratingly, Dan Gosling couldn't produce a clean effort to trouble Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Louis Saha scores against Bolton to make it 2-1Louis Saha scores against Bolton to make it 2-1

And with 20 minutes of the half remaining, the home side's lead was doubled. gary Cahill heading home strongly from a Matt taylor free-kick.

At that point the afternoon looked ominous. But Saha, who was by far Everton's most effective player in the opening half, had other ideas.

His screamer from 20 yards shortly before the half hour not only enabled the strong travelling contingent to rediscover their singing voices - it provided cause for optimism.

There was a scarew when the French hitman sustained a knock as he latched onto another through ball. But he recovered to fire in two tantalising drilled crosses which Bolton did well to clear as the end of the opening half approached.

It was a poor 45 minutes from the Blues, who looked susceptible at the back. But Saha's efforts were enough to ensure the half-time bovril was consumed with a sense of hope rather than resignation.

That hope was fully justified, as Marouane Fellaini illustrated 10 minutes into the second period.

The Belgian international is clearly a fan of the Reebok, having scored in the victory here last term.

He drilled a thunderbolt into the roof of the net from 12 yards to silence the home fans and put the sides back on level terms. Having endured some scary moments in the opening period, Everton were causing defensive problems of their own for the hosts in the second half.

Gosling with a surging counter-attack had a glorious opportunity to put the Toffees ahead but he was denied by a timely Cahill tackle. There were other chances - with Tim Cahill unlucky on one occasion. And the fact they weren't taken proved costly.

Bolton's biggest threat all afternoon was aerial - and thus it provided the winner. Sub Ivan Klasnic latched on to a loose ball from a free-kick launched into the Everton area from inside the Bolton half. He fired low and Tim Howard couldn't stop it.

It was a bitter blow for an Everton side that had fought so hard despite despite depleted numbers - indeed, John Heitinga had to be withdrawn with an injury before the end. To leave without a point was cruel indeed.

JoJo fires in a shot at the Reebok



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