This is a must-win game for both sides. Let's riff on QPR's pain first. They're in desperate bother. Hovering over the relegation dotted line, in 16th spot, six goals less useless than 18th-placed Wolves, they've only won one of their last 15 league games. Considering they've yet to play Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Sunderland, they're in a bit of a state.
As for Bolton? They're below the line, in 19th place, two points behind QPR. But they're done with all of the big boys bar Tottenham now, and have a much, much easier run-in. Mind you, they've just lost four on the bounce, including defeats to supposedly easier opposition in Norwich and Wigan, so that favourable fixture list might not count for much.
A must-win game for both sides, then. A relegation six-pointer, if you will. A winner-takes-all-the-points demotion brouhaha. Bolton may be the more confident, having won the opening game of the season against Rangers 4-0. But they are a shower, so maybe not. But QPR are a shambles, so maybe. I really have to finish this paragraph now.
Kick off: 12.45pm.
Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Steinsson, Wheater, Ream, Ricketts, Reo-Coker, Mark Davies, Pratley, Miyaichi, Ngog, Petrov.
Subs: Jaaskelainen, Muamba, Eagles, Knight, Kevin Davies, Klasnic, Sordell.
Queens Park Rangers: Kenny, Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Traore, Barton, Diakite, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Cisse, Zamora.
Subs: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Mackie, Buzsaky, Young, Taiwo.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
Anyway, never mind this football. Let's concentrate on the real issues. "What do you think is worse, a shower or a shambles?" asks philosophy's Patrick Cullen. "At first I thought shambles, because you know a shower is temporary, the sun will shine again, and after all, it's only a shower, not a deluge or a monsoon. But then I thought about how a shambles just has to pull itself together to improve, something it can do from the one moment to the next, and not necessarily dependent on the rain stopping and the shower going away." Surely much depends on what the shower consists of. And its temperature. And whether it's being hosed straight between your eyes.
The teams are out! Bolton are in their trademark dreadfully designed white shirts, QPR are in salmon pink. Or is it orange? Not sure. And don't care. "I'm sure the idea of promotion/relegation for two years rather than one year has been kicked around before but I've missed said discussion," says Paul Taylor, of a subject that's news to me. "Can a promoted club really make much progress financially (and on the pitch) playing for only one year in the big leagues?" For the love of God, please be quiet, Paul. Someone from the SPL might be reading this, and you'll be giving them ideas.
And we're off! Mark Hughes hasn't had a honeymoon period yet, the poor love. Could this be the start of something beautiful? His charges get the ball rolling, and hoick it straight out of play down the left, an agricultural hoof. The last live football match on British television was the Athletic Bilbao Show on Thursday evening. Compare and contrast. Best league in the world!
2 min: Ricketts gets busy down the left and wins a corner for Bolton. The first is wasted, but QPR put the ball behind again and it's another corner, giving Bolton the opportunity to waste another set piece.
3 min: From deep, Derry quarterbacks a pass down the left for Cisse, who isn't far from latching onto the ball. QPR have obviously decided to keep it basic this afternoon.
6 min: A lot of hoofing. It's a poor show so far, but let's give it a chance. "As a shambles historically means a butcher's slaughterhouse then I'd guess that would be a worse thing to be, and frankly rather gruesome," writes Robin Hazlehurst. "Not sure there is much way back for a team that have been turned into mince, sausages and chops. A shower could even be a good thing if it is a power shower, or discombobulating if it is a biblical shower like a shower of frogs." I suppose if you turn a poorly performing football squad into chops and sausages, you could at least recoup some of the cash wasted on the players by raffling a few trays off in the drinker on Sunday afternoon. Actually, Liverpool may want to consider this as a solution to the Carroll problem.
8 min: Pratley chases a ball down the inside-right channel and reaches it, plum on the byline, a few feet to the right of the QPR goal. He cuts an inviting ball back into the centre, but there's no Bolton player rushing in to take advantage.
9 min: A free kick to Bolton down the right. Wanderers load the box. Petrov swings a useless ball in, allowing first man Barton to clear.
10 min: Miyaichi rolls the ball inside from the right to Ngog. Then a nice bit of skill by the striker, who dinks a first-time ball past Hill down the inside-right channel, and runs after it himself, clear into the area. But that's the sum total of the excellence, as his subsequent shot is snatched miles wide left. That was Torresesque.
13 min: QPR aren't doing much at all. Cisse tries to make something happen down the right, chasing after a long ball, but can only slice a cross deep into the stand. He was never in control of that.
14 min: Miyaichi is looking lively down the Bolton right. He scampers into space and sees his cross hacked out for a corner. Miyaichi takes it himself. Wheater, from the penalty spot, aims a header towards the top right, but Ferdinand heads off the line and over for another corner. Which is wasted. But Bolton are beginning to look dangerous here.
15 min: And yet it's nearly QPR who take the lead, Wright-Phillips diddling down the inside-left channel, the ball eventually breaking infield, settling on the edge of the area for Barton, who's cutting in from the right. He takes a whack at goal, and the ball's deflected, wrongfooting Bogdan in the Bolton goal. Luckily for the home side, the ball flies wide right, and the subsequent corner is a joke.
17 min: Cisse, from the edge of the D, dinks a ball down the inside-left channel for Zamora, who smashes a shot from a tight angle off the crossbar and away. That's a wonderful effort. Rangers were not far short of appalling during the opening exchanges, but have suddenly woken up.
20 min: OUTRAGEOUS REFEREEING DECISION! QPR ROBBED! A corner for QPR down the left, after Cisse causes some bother in the box. It's swung into the Bolton six-yard box. Hill, coming in at the near post, stoops and powers a header over the line. Bogdan claws it out, in the Roy Carroll style; it's miles behind the line. But the linesman doesn't give the goal. That is a preposterous decision. QPR have the funk on, and no bloody wonder.
22 min: On the touchline, Mark Hughes is waving his arms around, mouthing words such as EFF and CEE.
23 min: Pratley hacks Diakite, a late slide. He's booked, and can have no complaints. The linesman central to the Hill Incident is, for the record, called Bob Pollock. The visiting Londoners, fond as they are of chatting in rhyme, will be in no doubt as to what said official has just dropped.
26 min: Pratley comes inside from the right and has a dig. The ball balloons off Hill and nearly finds the top left. It's only a corner, which is a complete waste of time. "Now Steve Bruce has gone, are Owen Coyle and Mark Hughes the managers with the highest reputations and the fewest acheivements in the Premier League? I don't know how the media chooses its heroes and villains, but once in one camp, it seems to take a lot of shifting to end up in the other," writes Gary Naylor, of a phenomenon known as the Hodgson Law of Honour, or Roy's Rules of Renown.
29 min: That incident has taken quite a bit of wind from QPR's sails. And no wonder. Will you just look at that!
31 min: Wheater is booked for a tug on Cisse. "Surely Andy Carroll would be sent to the knacker's yard to be boiled down for glue?" asks Dennis Johns. "Like poor old Boxer in Animal Farm, though Terry and Drogba are more the Napoleon and Snowball types. I'll put this analogy down now." Boxer was quite a willing worker, though, wasn't he?
33 min: A free kick for Bolton, 35 yards out, just to the right of goal. The home side load the box. Petrov can't beat the first man. The ball's cleared. Miyaichi looks to cushion it on his thigh and Le Tissier a volley goalwards, but Cisse nicks the ball from him and looks to break. Before losing control with options on either side and Bolton light at the back. This is a poor game on the whole.
35 min: Ngog rather saucily goes to ground in the box as he looks to turn Hill and get a shot away. It's not a penalty, and Hill isn't slow in telling the striker that, in the full and frank manner. That would have put the tin lid on Hill's half.
36 min: Diakite, sent off after 0.000000000004 seconds on his debut, is lucky to escape a booking for a ludicrous lunge on Steinsson. Free kick down the right for Bolton. From which...
37 min: GOAL! Bolton Wanderers 1-0 QPR. The free kick is worked right to left across the face of the QPR box. Finally, Petrov is sprung clear down the left. He stands the ball up into the centre, where Pratley powers a header home into the right-hand side of the net. Rangers, who should have been ahead, are now behind, and wearing the look of men about to sail the funk mothership into the heart of a blistering sun.
39 min: Wright Phillips has a chance to immediately level, with the ball in plenty of space down the inside-left channel, but his curler towards the top-right corner is all wrong. It flies miles wide right and high of goal.
42 min: Mark Davies and Onuoha come together down the right. A fair 50-50 challenge, but Davies has come off the worst. A stoppage. "Grinding up a rubbish team for meat?" splutters Mac Millings. "Solving the Carroll problem? I can almost hear Charlton Heston now. 'Pointless Team is people!'"
44 min: Stoppage over. Davies back up and running. "This is a horrible advert for Premiership football," opines Alex Bishop. "Everything about this game; the scrappy passing, poor finishing, bad refereeing, the half empty ground and that bloody song they played when Bolton scored!" We're enjoying ourselves, aren't we.
45 min: QPR ping pretty triangles down the inside-right channel, Zamora and Cisse the skillsters. Eventually the ball's pinged to Onuoha, bombing down the right. He hammers it low and hard towards the Bolton net, but Bogdan hacks away with his feet. For the record, the ball was a few yards in front of the line.
HALF TIME: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Queens Park Rangers. And after a couple of minutes of added time, that is that. Hill wanders off shaking his head, the Rangers fans booing and chanting "You don't know what you're doing" to Mr Pollock. This could be an interesting second half if QPR come back out with the rage.
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And we're off again! No changes to either side. Bolton get the ball rolling for the second half. Sky have pointed out that Bolton may be cashing in some karma today, given that an over-the-line misjudgement by the referee against Everton effectively relegated them (and not Everton) back in 1997. Like QPR will care about that. Still, Bolton were due one I suppose, and QPR have one hell of a slice of luck coming to them in 2027.
48 min: GOAL! Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Queens Park Rangers. Diakite dinks a ball straight down the middle of the park to release Cisse, who slides the ball under Bogdan and home. That's so simple. And a good yard or two offside. Well, that's levelled things up.
51 min: Now it's Bolton's turn to wander about stunned. That shock at the start of the half has knocked them back on their heels. QPR aren't doing much at the moment either, but will be feeling mighty fine about themselves at the moment. "You have a two-yard ghost goal in a crucial relegation match and all you can talk about is Andy Carroll??" blasts a red-faced Mat Balco, barely able to focus on his computer screen, the light refracting through the hot salty tears. "WTF?? Seriously?? Honestly pathetic." Sorry, Mat, that I've only so far mentioned it in the 22nd, 23rd, 29th, 35th and 45th minutes, in the descriptions of both goals, and the restart to the second half. And posted a picture of it. Just so I know next time, and in the interests of Open Journalism, what else did you want me to do? I live to dance little jigs.
54 min: Bolton are slowly recovering. Mark Davies is putting himself about, probing down both channels. QPR certainly don't look certain at the back, but that's hardly news. "Hancock's wrong," writes Paul Gordon. "It's eggs."
57 min: You'd have thought Rangers would have their tails up after the start to the second half they enjoyed, but since the dust from the goal settled, Bolton have been seeing more of the ball. There's not much going on, though.
59 min: A determined burst down the middle of the park by Diakite, who slides a pass down the inside-left for Cisse. The striker gets a low shot on target, but it's weak and straight at Bogdan. Still, nice move by QPR, and one that opened the hosts up a wee bit.
60 min: Ricketts romps down the left, drops a shoulder to skate past Barton on the inside, and attempts a curler into the top right. It's not a bad effort, but just a tad overcooked. The ball sails into the stand.
61 min: Onuoha slides in on Petrov down the left, near the corner flag as the Bolton midfielder was shaping to cross. That's as clear a booking as you'll see.
64 min: A corner for Bolton down the right. Miyaichi swings a low ball to the edge of the area, allowing Wheater to hack over. "Don't listen to Mat Balco (51 min)," advises Paul Gordon. "I think you should talk about Andy Carroll more. Do you think he should shave before games? I do." I'd like to think we can all still be friends, and maybe Mat Balco will email in with his opinion on this pressing matter.
65 min: The populist mandarins of the FA never miss a trick, and already they've released a statement calling for goal-line technology to be introduced "as soon as possible". The world of football should listen, and listen good: somebody's had to put down their G&T to knock that kneejerk press release out.
68 min: QPR are coming back into this. A ball's swung into the box from the right, Cisse nearly getting his head to it. Wheater climbs to head behind. The corner's wasted, but Rangers are soon coming back at the home side, Barton swinging another ball in from the same flank. Steinsson panics and, under no pressure whatsoever, heads behind for another corner. Rangers prove as wasteful from the left as they were from the right. But this is a decent response from Rangers, who suffered a quiet period since their goal.
71 min: A change for Bolton: Eagles comes on for Petrov.
73 min: Ricketts and Eagles combine tastily down the left, the former cutting in and being upended by QPR Man Whose Identity I Failed To Spot. Whatever, that's a free kick to Bolton, just to the left of the D. Eagles looks for the top left corner, but batters the ball straight into the wall. Not great.
76 min: Cisse tears down the right and digs out a marvellous cross. Zamora nearly takes it down on the penalty spot, but he's got his back to goal, and trapping while thinking about turning is beyond him this time. "When Gary Naylor (26 mins) refers to 'how the media chooses its heroes'," begins Justin Horton, dissecting the last published work by this site's king of obsessive detail and general pedantry, "should he not say 'how the media choose their heroes'? Isn't 'media' a plural, specifically the plural of 'medium'?" The biter bit.
77 min: Pratley upends Onuoha near the Bolton area, just to the right of the D. A free kick, which Zamora wastes with a lame shot into the wall. Derry attempts to follow up with a shot of his own, but there's no point describing it, no point at all.
80 min: Cisse tries to Mark Hughes one home from eight yards, but his acrobatic effort fles high and wide. Then a plethora of changes. For QPR, a triple substitution: Traore, Wright-Phillips and Derry off, Taiwo, Mackie and Buzsaky on. For Bolton, just the one: Pratley off, Klasnic on.
81 min: A pinball session in the Bolton area. QPR have about 20 shots at goal, to the tune of Yakety Sax by Boots Randolph. Eventually the ball drops to Mackie, six yards out. The ball balloons off Wheater's sprawling frame and away. For a second, QPR claim hand ball, but it's come off the defender's noggin. What a chance.
84 min: Diakite is booked for some incident or other missed by your hapless MBM scribe. Given that he should have seen yellow in the first half, he's a lucky chap to still be on the pitch. "I don't know about shaving," writes Mac Millings, "but I think Mat Balco's Andy Carroll should wax his legs. Gary Lineker did, and he scored loads of goals. Just look at the shine on those thighs!"
86 min: GOAL! Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Queens Park Rangers. This is a wonderful goal, made by the excellent Miyaichi, who brings the ball down with his back to goal on the edge of the D, takes a couple of touches, and flicks a pass round the corner and down the inside-left channel for the sub Klasnic, who finds the bottom-right corner. That could seal a crucial win for Bolton, and really sink Rangers into the mire.
89 min: Rangers respond by streaming down the right through Cisse. There's a corner, but Bolton manage to deal with it, shuttle thte ball from danger, and win a free kick on the halfway line. Rangers look pained. Bolton replace Ngog with Muamba. Meanwhile, Millings is back: "According to dictionary.com, 'media' may be used as Gary Naylor used it - that is, as a collective noun with a singular verb. Much like 'Gary Naylor' is a collective noun, meaning 'shadow group of sport-obsessed netgimps who publish their crazed musings on an unprecedentedly large scale, all under a single pseudonym'." He's all too real, Millings. He's all too real.
90 min: There will be four added minutes of this, and most of them will be played out in the Bolton half, I'll be bound. They're clearly sitting tight with what they've got, and who can blame them?
90 min +1: Eagles heads the ball against his own arm in the penalty area. Then Reo Coker lunges in on Onuoha, who is flipped into the air. Rangers claim a penalty both times, but they're not going to get one. Mark Hughes' press conference is going to be quite the event.
90 min +2: On the touchline, Mark Hughes is doing some hopping.
90 min +3: A free kick hoisted into the Bolton area. Bogdan just about punches it clear. It nearly falls to Mackie, who can't wrap his foot around the ball. The danger's cleared.
FULL TIME: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Queens Park Rangers. And that's that! A moment of crisp skill by Miyaichi has won the game for Bolton, who are out of the bottom three and a point above Rangers. QPR will rightly be livid at the Hill Incident, but then again their goal was clearly offside, so what goes round, etc., and so on. Still, that would have been the opener, and would have changed everything. You might also hear about that penalty shout at the end, too. Mark Hughes at least manages to shake Owen Coyle's hand, though, which is nice.