"We really aren't always as bad as this - honest". There was an air of desperation about the commentator, a middle aged man talking to his two daughters. In the space of the first four minutes of the game, he had felt it necessary to reassure his children that Charlton were better than the early showing, which had promised to deliver an afternoon of footballing purgatory. Despite it being so early in the proceedings, Bolton had already attacked three times, and scored once, courtesy of Sordell turning a flat footed Dervite before calmly slotting home past the returning Hamer.
After the international break, it was Charlton that looked like they were still in the dressing room for the first half an hour, and it would be difficult to say who was having the worst 'mare, as each member of the team did their level best to outdo the others in an attempt to claim the title as leader of the mafia of the mediocre. Things got even worse after twenty minutes when Kamara totally unchallenged by the Charlton midfield was able to send in a long range effort that didn't give Hamer much chance.
So, there we were, twenty minutes in, two down, and looking like none of the players had any idea what to do about it. Inexplicably, and as so often happens when a team is winning by two goals, Bolton took their foot off the loud pedal, and went into cruise control. Step forward Jackson, who proceeded to score what I can only describe as a true captain's goal if ever there was one. A poorly cleared Charlton corner found him just outside the box. Taking the ball forward and left of the goal, he went past two defenders, and produced a sublime cross goal shot that ended up in the bottom corner, and suddenly, improbably, it was game on.
The second half was something else altogether. If Charlton fans were upset by being kettled by the police at Selhurst, it was nothing compared to the anger Bolton fans felt as they were Kettled by Trevor the referee. The game changed dramatically after Ricketts was shown a second yellow for a foul on Fuller outside the box. Up stepped both Kermorgant and Jackson, and either could have taken it, and it was the Breton that did. It crashed back off the post to be met by an inrushing Dervite who made amends for his poor showing up until that point by sticking it firmly in the back of the net from close in.
Having dominated for an hour, Bolton suddenly found themselves level, and down to ten men to boot. They were made to pay for their disarray when three minutes later, Fuller was sent flying in the box by Pratley. Keen to amend for hitting the post, Kermorgant dispatched a penalty into Lonergan's right hand corner, and unbelievably we were in the lead. I didn't realise that the penalty was the first one Kermorgant had taken since the infamous chipped one for Leicester two years ago. The fun didn't stop there either. Kermorgant could have had another as he rose to meet a cross that Lonergan saved at point blank range. Harriott too, should have troubled the scorer when he just failed to connect with a far post cross.
If the tale of the tape says that Bolton ended with nine men, then it could so easily have been eight after Dawson decided to strangle a flying Solly to the ground on the right wing in what looked more like an assault than a tackle. He was also the last defender, but as there were at least two central defenders tracking back it is debatable whether it was a clear goal scoring opportunity. I felt that the "tackle" alone was worthy of a sending off, and Dawson was lucky to escape with a yellow. Add to that Davies being banished for two stoppage-time offences in quick succession, the first on Morrison, and the second a challenge on Wiggins, and Bolton's misery was complete. Or was it?, as an unconfirmed story suggests that Knight was sent off in the tunnel after the game, so maybe they did end with eight after all?