A miserable afternoon at the Reebok

By Tony Scholes
Last updated : 09 February 2013

The winner, nine minutes from time, was somewhat fortunate but I don't think anyone could suggest that Bolton weren't the better of two very ordinary sides this afternoon and if anyone was going to win it then it was them.

We never really got any sort of foothold in the game but Bolton weren't any real threat for most of a game that hardly enthused the almost 20,000 who struggled to create any sort of atmosphere all afternoon.

The team, when announced ahead of kick off, was as expected with Edgar replacing Michael Duff. When I heard last week that Duff's problem was his calf I feared the worst and today it has been confirmed that he will be out for several weeks.

A first goal for David Edgar since his brace at Hull last season

The players arrival onto the pitch was somewhat farcical. For some reason at the Reebook the two teams come out via different tunnels either side of the technical areas. The referee and one assistant led out Bolton and the other assistant, I assume, was supposed to lead out Burnley. It's just that we weren't there and by the time we arrived the Bolton players were already lined up for the handshake.

In the first half Burnley defended the end that housed around 3,500 Clarets and we made a bright start to the game. We were on the front foot and pushed Bolton back. Had we scored in these early exchanges who knows how the game would have gone, but we didn't and didn't really create much in terms of chances.

Bolton offered little threat but we soon dropped off and for long periods it was a tiresome first half with little quality on either side. The Burnley fans delighted in Chris Eagles misfiring with a couple of efforts from distance and misplacing a couple of passes, but in truth there was little to enthuse either set of supporters.

At no stage did a goal ever really look likely but as the half wore on it was Bolton who were in the ascendancy and had loan defender Craig Dawson shown any accuracy with a couple of headers from corners we might just have been in a little bit of trouble.

The second of them followed a good save from Lee Grant which was just about all he had to do in the first half and it was no real surprise when referee Chris Foy brought it to an end with the score still at 0-0.

The half time interval gave me the opportunity to sit for a quarter of an hour in this all-stander end of the ground, but back to my feet for the start of the second half which saw a bit of a shuffle with Junior Stanislas going on the right, Danny Ings on the left and Ross Wallace in a central position.

This tends to be the graveyard spell for Burnley, the opening period of the second half, and it didn't start well again. But, as Bolton thought they might be getting a grip on the game we got ourselves in front.

It was good play from Wallace initially that won us a corner. Bolton dealt with that by giving away another and this time it paid off. Chris McCann got a header to the Stanislas flag kick. He headed it back across goal for Edgar to head home from point blank range.

I missed the game at Hull last season with illness when Edgar scored twice so this is the first time I've seen him score and was hopeful that, just as at Hull, it would prove to be a vital ingredient of a win.

Home boss Freedman quickly reacted with a double substitution and the home fans weren't happy with it. Off game Marvin Sordell and Steve De Ridder and on came big forwards David Ngog and Craig Davies.

A goal up away from home and the home fans restless is usually a good recipe. This one wasn't and it was those two substitutes who scored the goals that turned the game against us.

The lead lasted eleven minutes and it was former Barnsley striker Davies who got his first Bolton goal. From a position on the left they fired in a cross but no one tracked Davies coming through and he headed home unchallenged.

We were clearly second best now and almost immediately it was nearly 2-1 when Davies got clear from a ball from Ngog. But for Grant it would have been but he was so quick to get there and smother  it.

Martin Paterson came on to partner a subdued Charlie Austin up front but we were getting no joy now. We couldn't keep possession, we were offering little and it was just a matter of keeping out the home side.

I thought we were going to do it but with nine minutes remaining our day fell apart. Grant brilliantly saved a Marcos Alonso down at the foot of his right hand post, punching the ball away for a thrown in.

The ball was thrown long into the box with McCann eventually heading it out but only as far as Jay Spearing. Now sometimes you need a bit of fortune and there is no doubt that Spearing's shot, had it been left alone, wouldn't have gone close to another set of goals let alone the ones in use.

Unfortunately it went straight to Ngog who turned it into the bottom corner on the other side of goal. There was nothing anyone could have done about it.

Sam Vokes had been waiting to come on. I'd assumed it was for Austin but with us now behind it was Ings, who had been very disappointing, who gave way.

Bolton just didn't let us get back at them. Those nine minutes, plus added time, were played out without us causing them too much threat other than a Stanislas shot from outside the box that curled away just off target.

Keith Treacy came on, heaven knows why with us deep into stoppage time, but by then the game was being played almost exclusively in our defensive third as Bolton saw the game out.

We could have no complaints at all. The second half performance was as poor as anything I've seen since Dyche became manager. We just didn't seem to be able to lift our performance at all.

That's more away points dropped away from home. That's sixteen away games played this season. We've led in twelve of them, all but the defeats at Huddersfield, Cardiff, Ipswich and Nottingham Forest, but only five have been won meaning we have dropped no fewer than 18 points from winning positions on the road, exactly the same number as we've won.

I suppose, overall, we are an average Championship side and the league table sort of reflects that with 12 wins and 12 defeats, but the return of just one point from the last three games against sides close to the bottom is a real concern.

And incredibly we are still only four points from the top six with Middlesbrough losing yet again. But on this sort of form that four points is a long, long way away.

The teams were;

Bolton: Adam Bogdan, Tyrone Mears, Zat Knight, Craig Dawson, Marcos Alonso, Steve De Ridder (Craig Davies 58), Darren Pratley, Jay Spearing, Chris Eagles (Kevin Davies 79), Chung-Yong Lee, Marvin Sordell (David Ngog 58). Subs not used: Andy Lonergan, Tim Ream, Sam Ricketts, Josh Vela.
Yellow Card: Zat Knight.

Burnley: Lee Grant, Kieran Trippier, David Edgar, Jason Shackell, Danny Lafferty, Dean Marney, Chris McCann, Ross Wallace (Martin Paterson 70), Danny Ings (Sam Vokes 82), Junior Stanislas (Keith Treacy 90+2), Charlie Austin. Subs not used: Brian Jensen, Kevin Long, Joseph Mills, Brian Stock.
Yellow Cards: Kieran Trippier, Jason Shackell.

Referee: Chris Foy (St Helens).

Attendance: 19,767.

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