Bolton Wanderers put in a five star performance against Stoke City as they looked to reverse the Wembley nightmare of last season. Ivan Klasnic and Chris Eagles turned on the fireworks as all eleven men that started the match in white shirts could have easily been handed the Man of the Match award. There was nary a complaint about anyone on the field as Bolton Wanderers put five goals past Asmir Begovic in spectacular fashion.
It all started in the 2nd minute as Glenn Whelan lobbed a ball back into the Stoke City box that Begovic picked up, thinking nothing of it. Howard Webb called the ball an intentional back pass and handed a free kick to Bolton in the Stoke box. Begovic gave the ball up easily to a smart Ivan Klasnic who played it quickly to his right, right where Kevin Davies lay in wait. The skipper only had to tap it in to start the scoring off for Bolton Wanderers. 1-0.
A second Begovic mistake opened up the opportunity for Chris Eagles to make it 2-0. Begovic made a clearance ahead of the attacking Klasnic but the ball was only out to the left flank with Eagles doing well to settle the ball. Hitting it on the half volley from a wide position, the ball floated sweetly just over the pitch and found its home in the side netting at the far post.
Klasnic took Bolton spirits sky high as he made it 3-0 with a fantastic effort on the edge of the penalty area. Paul Robinson brought the ball up the left side and squared it to Klasnic whose thumping right-footed shot hit an outstretched Begovic's hands and off the post into the back of the net.
The fourth came as a result of a lovely little bit of connecting play from Super Kevin Davies who flicked the ball onto Ivan Klasnic. The Croatian goal scoring machine took a deft touch with the outside of his foot and put it in the path of Chris Eagles. With Begovic rushing the ball, Eagles played a little chip over him and then it was four.
Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, Ivan Klasnic popped up one more time as Bolton made the most of one of their 12 corners on the day. Chris Eagles lofted it into the box and David Wheater did what the Bolton big men and been doing well all game by creating yet another chance in the box. Wheat's header was flicked right to the head of Ivan Klasnic who only had to glance it over the goalkeeper to banish the ghosts of Wembley.
The scoring was all well and fantastically brilliant but one of the real talking points of this match that will have Bolton fans buzzing was the Premier League debut of Joe Riley. The 20 year old was frankly brilliant at right back and has the opportunity to only get better given the chances. Riley did a fantastic job of taking the ball up the right side, putting a number of excellent crosses into the box, and getting right back to his defensive duties, making tackles when most needed.
Let's hope that this is the turnaround that Bolton so desperately needed and can carry the momentum into next week's away matchup with West Bromwich Albion. The Trotters still remain in the bottom three but have dropped their goal differential to -9 with four teams below them now in that respect. Just three points separate the mighty Whites from 11th place. What a performance.