On the face of it - according to pundits anyway - this was three points waiting to be collected. West Ham had won their last two home games and, since Arsenal knocked them out of the cup in January, the Hammers were unbeaten at home scoring five and conceding none.
The visitors on the other hand hadn't won away all season and lost their last four, scoring none and conceding ten. All set fair then until you look at the top of the page and see the teams playing. Bolton Wanderers are West Ham's nemesis. Forget Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and all - we've picked up points over those in recent memory and even managed a double occasionally. Bolton? A mere cup win on the way to the 2006 final (and that was an extra time result) and a do or die Tevez-led league victory in the relegation-escaping season after.
Gianfranco Zola: Not happy
This then, awful though it was, wasn't exactly a shock, but in the context of the relegation battle it could be crucial (Personally, I'm not sure it will be though). Scourge of the Hammers throughout the game and for several season past was Kevin Davies. If England opponents galvanised Davies in the same manner as a claret and blue shirt then our Kev would surely be South Africa bound this summer.
Davies scored his eighth goal in ten games against West Ham with a smartly taken header after only ten minutes, easily beating Faubert from Lee Chung-Yong's cross. Diamanti went close with a free kick just outside the area soon after but Bolton then increased their leader when Davies - again - fooled Tomkins on the bye-line as the youngster tried to usher the ball out for a goal kick. His whipped cross, headed back by Cohen and struck home by on-loan Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere, a player West Ham were rumoured to be linked with as a possible loan signing last season.
With only sixteen minutes gone and the Hammers two down, it was already going to be an uphill battle but it could have been worse, Elmander going close when totally unmarked from a corner. When Robinson bought Behrami down just outside the area, Diamanti produced an even better free kick that was smartly palmed away by Jaaskelainen, the Bolton keeper then tipping away the shot that resulted from Franco as the ball ran loose. Samuel Ricketts then produced an even better moment for Bolton, an excellent last ditch tackle denying Carlton Cole when the Hammer's forward broke and looked certain to get a shot away. These were vital moments for Bolton as a goal pulled back before half-time may have changed the complexion of the game and the mood of the frustrated crowd. It was Knight who came to Bolton's rescue just before the break clearing off the line after his keep had punched a cross onto the head of his own defender to send the ball towards the net but, in truth, West Ham's chances were put in perspective a minute after when Elmander wasted a golden opportunity by shooting over when completely unmarked with the Hammers defence nowhere. The Hammers fans showed their disapproval of a pathetic defensive display as the players trooped off two goals behind.
If the second half was to go West Ham's way, the home side needed to get hold of the ever frustrating Davies but it wasn't long before the player tortured the home defence again leading to another good chance from Elmander that struck Upson's arm. It was the same man who headed over from another defence-shredding cross from Yong shortly before Cohen was booked for a wild hack on Behrami. When the same player clumsily and pointlessly bought down the industrious Parker and the referee produced a red card there was still nearly twenty minutes left and the home crowd sensed something might be gained from the game. With two minutes left on the clock, Diamanti superbly curled in a shot from the corner of the box to reduce the deficit before the board revealed there were five more minutes to play to encourage the Upton Park crowd to roar the team on. Bolton's response was, unsurprisingly, for Kevin Davies to rattle the bar with a superb shot before substitute Stanislas produced a replica chance with a thumping shot that bounced down but was cleared.
'Abject' was the comment by THC (see WestHamOnline for a translation) on a 'Match of the Day' highlight spot that made West Ham look much better than they actually had been. The after match comments from Zola suggested that he was more than unhappy with the performance - as well he may have been - and does, again, produce speculation that some of the things practiced in mid-week don't seem to transform themselves to the pitch when faced with the guile and battling qualities of team like Bolton. With two difficult away games coming home, West Ham's remaining home games now become vital.
Still, at least none of them are against Bolton!