When all was said and done on opening day for Bolton Wanderers, it was a pretty abject performance away from home for Bolton Wanderers. Burnley were the better team for much of the game, troubling Bolton's defense on a number of occasions. Still, the Whites came back from a goal down to claim a hard-fought draw at Turf Moor to start the season with an away point.
The defense took time to find itself in this one with Marc Tierney and Alex Baptiste growing into their respective roles as Zat Knight and David Wheater learned to cope with balls over the top. Keith Andrews was largely invisible in the center of the park, especially going forward while Jermaine Beckford was let down by his first touch on the attack. Despite all of that, there were still some bright spots for the Trotters.
Chung-Yong Lee and Chris Eagles, despite not having much bite in the opposition's area, looked good going forward. Chungy was Bolton's main point of attack for most of the afternoon, carrying the ball forward left, right, and center. Bolton did well on the break through Chris Eagles on numerous occasions and it was the former Burnley man that played a brilliant ball back to Darren Pratley for Bolton's equalizer. Medo Kamara looked in fine form as well with his take-no-prisoners attitude anchoring the midfield and protect the defense. Kamara was constantly covering in defense, clearing passes, and even tried a few shots from distance with the second not that far off the mark.
It was the scorer how was our man of the match though. Darren Pratley looked like a totally different person to the one that's worn a Bolton shirt over the last two seasons. No one can question the midfielder's desire and willingness to run himself into the ground for his team. At Turf Moor, Pratley was absolutely everywhere, and, for the most part, looked very composed on the ball.
On Bolton's scoring drive, it was Pratley who created the space, bringing the ball forward to the edge of the area before spraying it out wide to Chris Eagles. The winger quickly returned the pass to Pratley, who was in space on the penalty spot. The central midfielder squared up and powered home the shot from 12 yards out, hitting the ball first time and leaving goalkeeper Tom Heaton without much chance of stopping it.
If Darren Pratley can recapture the form that he experienced in his final season for Swansea before they achieved promotion, he can be a key piece for Bolton Wanderers' own fight to the top. Against Burnley, Pratley showed every bit of that in his performance and the Trotters were better for it.