Bolton 1-1 Wolves

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Sam Ricketts scores for Bolton
Sam Ricketts scores to give Bolton their first draw at home this season

Bolton slipped to the bottom of the Premier League on the last day of 2011 despite picking up a first home draw of the season against Wolves.

In an encouraging display, Sam Ricketts scored a superb curling effort on his return to the side after 10 months out.

Having already hit the bar, Wolves equalised after the break when Steven Fletcher headed in a Matt Jarvis cross.

A Fabrice Muamba shot and a Gretar Steinsson header were both saved by Wolves keeper Wayne Hennessey.

The Welsh keeper kept his team in the game as Bolton's second-half pressure grew.

However, it was the hosts who were hanging on at the end as Jussi Jaaskelainen stopped Kevin Doyle's near-post header and substitute Tuncay headed against his own post from a Jarvis corner.

Coyle confident of Bolton survival

The point was Bolton's first draw at home this season, having lost eight and won just one of their previous nine games at the Reebok Stadium.

But with Blackburn's shock win at Manchester United lifting them off the bottom before Bolton kicked off, the draw was not enough to prevent Owen Coyle's side starting 2012 in last place.

Coyle had billed this game as his side's biggest of the season and he will be content to have at least avoided another defeat, as well as witnessing a performance by defender Gary Cahill - - that repaid the faith Coyle had shown in naming him as skipper.

Despite forming the centre of the league's worst defence, the England defender and Zat Knight had a fine first half, dealing ably with Wolves' crosses.

When the visitors did break through after the half-hour, Jaaskelainen was on hand to tip Stephen Ward's fine shot from 25 yards out on to the bar.

By that stage Bolton had already taken the lead, Ricketts showing no signs of rustiness after his lengthy absence and scoring his first goal since March 2007, when he was playing for Hull.

The goal was worth the wait too, the Welshman collecting a square ball in Wolves's half and advancing down the inside left channel, before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable shot into the far top corner.

The goal gave the hosts confidence and they could have doubled their lead after a sweeping move, but Ivan Klasnic's effort from Martin Petrov's cross was straight at Hennessey.

Bolton's good spell came to an abrupt end after the break when Fletcher scored his eighth of the season but there was a suggestion that the free-kick that led to it was a soft one.

McCarthy sure of Wolves improvement in 2012

Jarvis fizzed in the delivery and with Ricketts losing track of the Wolves striker, Fletcher nodded in from close range.

Muamba came close to restoring the lead for Bolton when he fired towards the corner from Petrov's cutback, but Hennessey flung himself to his left to tip the effort round the post.

And David Ngog almost turned in another Petrov centre before Steinsson's header was again well saved by Hennessey from the resulting corner.

Wolves responded late on through Doyle twice and Tuncay, but they had to make do with a draw that leaves them two points above the relegation zone heading into 2012.

Bolton have greater cause for worry however as, after a trip to Everton on 4 January, their following three games are against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Having won just nine of 36 matches in 2011, the new year promises to be an equally demanding challenge.

Bolton manager Owen Coyle: "There were pleasing aspects but we must bring that performance together for the whole duration of a match. And if we do that there's no doubt we can pick up points and move up the Premier League.

"When you're down in bottom three you leave yourselves open to criticism but you must see through that. We'll look to get one or two back from injury and we'll look to add one or two in the January transfer window."

Wolves boss Mick McCarthy: "We were hopeless in first half. The result at half-time was divided by a fingertip or the width of the crossbar, they had a wonderful strike that went in and we had one from Stephen Ward that didn't.

"In the second half we changed it and Dave Edwards had a great half. We deserved a point and it was probably a fair result and we could have nicked it with a couple of chances."

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