A win against Queens Park Rangers would have done Bolton Wanderers a world of good. Not only would it have put the Trotters back on pace for a convincing promotion fight but it would have also continued an eight-month-long home unbeaten streak. Neither of those things happened and the story of the match is beginning to sound all too familiar with a toothless Bolton team leaving their home ground empty-handed.
Dougie Freedman was forced to cope with absences once more, this time with Chris Eagles and Darren Pratley missing. David Ngog and Jermaine Beckford returned to the starting lineup with Tim Ream getting his first league appearance of the season. The much-maligned American was given a surprise role in the center of midfield, behind Jay Spearing and Medo Kamara, and duly proved his worth and then some.
The first half between the two sides was largely even with both QPR and Bolton both making good inroads through the midfield but really failing to do anything with it. Rangers had the first solid chance of the match with a dangerous Clint Hill cross destined for an onrushing Andy Johnson at the near post. Luckily, Adam Bogdan was up to the task and held it well, but not before hearts went into mouth for a split-second.
Then it was Bolton's turn to get a glorious opportunity and ruin it. A poor pass out of the back from Joey Barton found its way to Jermaine Beckford in the final third, putting the Bolton striker clean through on goal. Beckford somehow couldn't get a good shot off and dragged his effort wide of the charging Rob Green and the far post.
Medo Kamara would get arguably Bolton's best chance of the match some 15 minutes after that. It was an effort that deserved to go in but unfortunately did not hit the back of the net. Medo's curling, powerful drive from 30 yards was destined for the top corner at the near post but was denied by Rob Green. The goalkeeper did well to get to the corner, at full stretch, and push the effort onto the post itself, clearing the danger.
The half would end 0-0 and it would take ten minutes after the break for the first goal to come. It was Queens Park Rangers with the breakthrough thanks to a smart bit of play between Clint Hill and Charlie Austin. Hill, breaking down the right flank passed to Austin on the edge of the area. The former Burnley man intelligently flicked the ball with his first touch, splitting Alex Baptiste and Zat Knight and sending Hill waltzing into the area. The defender played a low ball across goal and Andy Johnson was there to finish it.
Bolton would have the chance to equalize through substitue Craig Davies seven minutes from time. Rob Hall, who instantly added some life into Bolton's attack with his own inclusion on 71 minutes, played a very clever through ball into the area for Davies. The striker ran onto it and went one-on-one with Rob Hall, trying to send his shot low and to the far post. While the idea was correct, the execution was poor and the shot was a bit too close to the center, allowing Rob Green to get low and save well. The match would end with Andy Johnson's goal the difference.
Bolton Wanderers have now gone four league games without a win and, going back to last season, have not won in six in the Championship. The Trotters have two points from four games, having allowed six goals goals in the process. The Nottingham Forest match aside, the issue has been the strikers, who have not yet found a goal. Bolton are badly missing the influence of Chris Eagles and Darren Pratley. They will have to recover for a cup match against Tranmere Rovers on Tuesday before another tough test against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend.