A glance at the scoreline, the league table and the fixture list suggests an opportunity was missed by Bolton Wanderers. A view of the game, or even the highlights, shows it was a point gained. While they were leapfrogged by Blackburn Rovers, sit 19th in the table and may see their 11-year stay in the Premier League end in three weeks' time, the reality is they were fortunate to emerge from this game with anything.
Swansea City are in mid-table and seem to have little other than prize money and pride to play for, but they provided a reminder of their capacity to elegantly eviscerate opponents. However, after Scott Sinclair's wonderful opening goal, they lacked the clinical touch to convert the many chances they created. A combination of the woodwork, goalkeeper Adam Bogdan and right-back Gretar Steinsson denied them a deserved victory and spared Bolton a club-record 11th home defeat of the campaign.
"It could turn out to be a very valuable point," said Bolton manager Owen Coyle. Salvation may lie in a crowded programme; Bolton have five games remaining, two more than each of their immediate rivals. "Our fate, our destiny, is in our own hands and we decide what happens to Bolton Wanderers," added the Scot. "Everyone would much rather have points in the bag, but we have 15 points available and who is to say we can't go and achieve many of them?"
On this evidence, many would. Coyle said there was "an element of frustration" about the result and the way Bolton conceded. While Sinclair has excelled in Swansea's debut Premier League campaign, his goals have been confined to the Liberty Stadium. Since his play-offs final hat-trick at Wembley in May clinched promotion, he has endured a barren run on his travels. This drought was ended spectacularly, however, when Sinclair collected possession near the left touchline and, with Steinsson applying insufficient pressure, ran along the edge of the penalty area and curled an unstoppable shot past Bogdan. It was a trademark goal, so much so that Coyle had warned his charges about the winger's propensity to cut infield. "We stressed all week that every time he gets the ball in those areas, he is looking to come in on his right foot," he explained. "You can show people what is involved, but they have to take responsibility. For me, that's frustration."
Bolton responded impressively. The choice of Chris Eagles to operate in the slipstream of the sole striker Kevin Davies was surprising – it is a role he has rarely occupied for Wanderers – and necessitated by injuries, but it was vindicated. When Martin Petrov whipped in a left-wing cross, Eagles arrived at pace to sweep in the equaliser. "A free-flowing move and great goal," said Coyle. Having scored against Brendan Rodgers' side in the FA Cup, it seemed proof that Eagles preys on Swans.
Too few of his colleagues do, however. Swansea began to impose themselves, the technical team troubling the more physical. Bolton showed fortitude and benefited from fortune in depriving Swansea of a winner. Steinsson, culpable for Sinclair's goal, twice redeemed himself. A tremendous block denied his Iceland team-mate, Gylfi Sigurdsson, a goal, while a last-ditch, far-post interception prevented Sinclair from tapping in Danny Graham's cross.
Like Steinsson, Bogdan made amends for earlier errors. First, however, came an outbreak of the jitters. When he spilled Sigurdsson's free-kick, Steven Caulker sliced a shot wide. When he came for, and missed, a corner kick Ashley Williams headed past the post. Yet when Swansea's top scorer bore down on goal, Bogdan was better, stopping Graham's shot after Sigurdsson had pierced the Bolton defence with his pass.
Then Graham and Sinclair were both thwarted when the Hungarian pulled off a double save. To compound Graham's irritation, when he did defeat Bogdan, his curling effort left the bar reverberating. "We could have scored three or four," said Rodgers. "We certainly deserved the three points." Solace should come in safety, while Bolton face a fraught end to the season.