City defeated again
Late strikes undo Hughes' men at The Reebok
Last Updated: 02/11/08 9:14pm
Bolton celebrate Gardner's opener
Manchester City were beaten for the second time in a week after going down 2-0 to Bolton Wanderers.
City were surprised by Middlesbrough in midweek, but failed to make amends by losing at The Reebok courtesy of Ricardo Gardner's close-range strike and a Richard Dunne own goal.
Jamaican winger Gardner opened the scoring in the 77th minute when he sent Gretar Steinsson's right-wing cross in off the crossbar to ease the pressure on under-fire manager Gary Megson.
Any hopes of City getting back into the contest ended late on when Dunne inadvertently diverted Gardner's driven cross into his own net with Kevin Davies lurking at the back post.
Bolton began the day propping up the rest of the Premier League, but have now moved into 17th spot thanks to their third league win of the campaign while City remain well off the pace-setters in 10th position.
The crowd again fell several thousand below capacity, the swathes of empty seats a reflection of The Trotters' struggles but City supporters also failed to come close to selling their ticket allocation.
Those who had bothered to turn up at least got to watch Robinho in the flesh and he showed plenty of early promise with some delightful footwork and acute awareness of players around him.
The Brazilian magician was deployed just behind Ched Evans but frequently drifted out to the left flank in a bid to collect possession.
He did that in the sixth minute, with almost devastating consequences for Bolton. Gliding his way infield from the left, Robinho hit a ferocious, dipping right-foot shot which flew narrowly over Jussi Jaaskelainen's crossbar.
It was a warning sign to Bolton but the hosts were undaunted and quickly gained a foothold on proceedings. In the 22nd minute, Fabrice Muamba then tried his luck from 30 yards but his rising shot flew harmlessly over Joe Hart's goal.
Robinho remained City's most potent attacking weapon and he chipped a delightful pass behind the Bolton defence and into Shaun Wright-Phillips' path in the 27th minute.
The England winger showed neat control and hooked a left-footed cross into the danger zone but the delivery was all too easily cleared.
City carved out the most clear-cut chance in the 41st minute when Evans' neat pass cut Bolton to pieces and gave Stephen Ireland a clear run of goal, but Jaaskelainen raced off his line to smother the midfielder's low shot.
Bolton replaced Mustapha Riga with Gardner shortly before the interval after the Dutchman took a knock following a heavy challenge from Dunne.
But Jaaskelainen was forced into another fine parried save on the stroke of half-time when he denied Evans after the Welshman was put clear by Wright-Phillips, who then headed straight at the goalkeeper after the ball was played back into the danger zone.
Up the tempo
City sought to up the tempo after the restart and in the 51st minute Wright-Phillips embarked on a fine run, cutting in from the left flank and engineering the space to thrash a left-foot shot over the crossbar.
The visitors went far closer in the 57th minute when Robinho found the space to turn past Steinsson and plant a neat right-foot shot which required another fine save from Jaaskelainen.
While Bolton's quality was questionable, their spirit was not in doubt and in the 62nd minute Hart denied Kevin Nolan with a brave close-range save before referee Mike Riley waved away appeals for a penalty following Dunne's clumsy challenge on Matt Taylor.
The breakthrough finally arrived with 13 minutes remaining when Nolan's astute pass sent Steinsson clear down the right flank.
He whipped in a brilliant low cross which Gardner fired in left-footed off the underside of the crossbar.The goal poured confidence into Megson's players and victory was assured minutes from time when Gardner crossed low from the left and the hapless Dunne fired the ball into his own from six yards.
|Bolton Wanderers||Team Statistics||Manchester City|
|0||1st Half Goals||0|
|4||Shots on Target||5|
|11||Shots off Target||6|
Barclays Premier League
|12||West Ham United||35||37|
|16||West Bromwich Albion||34||33|