On the back of an excellent display against Birmingham, I admittedly got my hopes up for Bolton. But leave it to Bolton to follow up a nice 3 points with a dreadful loss to start the New Year. There were no changes from the side that launched a comeback at the Reebok, but all offensive know-how seemed to have left those players, as they were restricted to just 3 shots on target the entire 90 minutes.
The quiet start from both sides set the tone for the rest of the half. Defenses were kept tight and decent chances were at a minimum. Rudolph Austin had the first shot of note 12 minutes into the match, but luckily a deflection pushed his 35 yard shot wide. About 8 minutes later Kevin Davies picked up a pass from Darren Pratley, and then sent the ball on to Chris Eagles, who would've scored on a different day.
28 minutes in, Jay Spearing got so bored with the match, that he put in a crunching tackle on Austin, and very nearly injured himself. That was certainly the most exciting incident of the half. About 10 minutes later Bolton had another chance, again from Eagles. He sent a searing shot in from 30 yards out, but Paddy Kenny skillfully managed to palm the ball away. The whistle came as a welcome break from an incredibly dull half.
Unsurprisingly, neither side made any changes at half time, and the match resumed with the deadlock it had before the half. Apart from a decent chance from Marcos Alonso, where his shot went over the crossbar, the first 20 minutes of the second half passed largely without event. In the 65th minute, Tyrone Mears went into a rash tackle on Ross McCormack, conceding Bolton's 8th penalty of the season. Prolific scorer Luciano Becchio stepped up to the spot, and deftly converted the penalty, giving the home side the lead.
Dougie Freedman attempted to give the Wanderers an edge changing the side to a 4-4-2, bringing Benik Afobe and David Ngog shortly after conceding. It was largely ineffective though and the match went on to finish 1-0. There were certainly positives from this match. With the exception of the conceded penalty, it was a very good defensive display from Bolton Wanderers, something we haven't been able to say for a long time. In spite of that, in general it was just not good enough from the Trotters.
It's been a busy spell for Bolton with 3 matches in the past week, and perhaps fatigue had something to do with the performance today. Whatever it was, Dougie has until Saturday to try to identify the problem and rectify it, because I cannot listen to another 90 minutes that boring.