Curbs reflects on Bolton battle

Alan Curbishley was understandably disappointed after his team lost out to a side fighting for their lives and who have enjoyed better fortunes of late at the Reebok Stadium.

Prior to Saturday's 1-0 loss that saw the hosts move themselves to within two points of safety, Bolton had earned home draws against Sporting Lisbon and Manchester City before taking a two-goal lead against Arsenal only to harshly lose 3-2 after conceding an own goal and penalty. Curbishley said his team were always aware it would be a difficult contest and so it proved, not least for every second of the first half. "Bolton put a terrific effort in the first 46 minutes," he said.


"I have not seen a team work so hard [as they did in the first half]. It is obviously the situation they are in. They put us under an awful lot of pressure." Curbishley's best-laid plans to cope with the expected bombardment, not least with key captain Kevin Nolan back after a two-game ban, were sent awry as early as the second minute. Anton Ferdinand suffered a hamstring injury in his left leg that has left him "a bit sore". The manager added: "It was a blow for us so early on in the game. Perhaps it is synonymous with the season we have had so far.

"We have been patched up most of the season but we have just got to get on with it. Nothing is going to change. He has been playing quite well. With Anton going off, we had to reshuffle [by switching Jonathan Spector inside from full-back] ... You come to Bolton and you know what to expect and everybody says the same thing. It is to difficult to deal with especially when they were like they were in the first half. It was vintage Bolton."

The home side's goal summed up Gary Megson's direct style, with Kevin Nolan and goalscorer Kevin Davies doing their best to unsettle Robert Green and Matthew Upson, back in the side after a month out. "It is all part and parcel of it. We knew what to expect, the goal was a typical Bolton goal ... What you do want a little bit of protection, there are lots of bodies when the ball goes in there and lots of pressure around the keeper ... that is a typical Bolton goal and we have not dealt with it. It is disappointing."


For all that, Curbishley admitted Bolton "deserved the result" having also seen two efforts cleared off the line but added his team could have forced a way back into it after going behind - not least through Dean Ashton and Scott Parker, who both went close. "They perhaps sat back a little bit ... we had a couple of little efforts and we started playing a little bit better but the keeper made some decent saves. They have got their points and they are still there, still in with a chance of getting out of [relegation trouble].

Curbishley also had a word for Jack Collison, the 19-year-old Wales Under-21 midfielder who was making his full debut but was replaced by Carlton Cole soon after the goal. "I do feel sorry for Jack Collison. We came here to be as strong as we can and and brought Jack in to express himself but we never got a chance for 45 minutes. As soon as the goal went in, I felt I had to change it. It was disappointing for him but he will get over it."