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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0 Burnley 1

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Bolton Wanderers came into a local derby with Sean Dyche’s impressive Burnley side who clambered off their tractor at The Reebok Stadium knowing they had every chance of coming away with three points at Bolton for the first time in over two decades.

Jan Kruger

A somewhat surprising recall for the Wanderers was that of David Wheater who was once again looking to re-ignite his Bolton career that has been frequently stunted by various injuries. Wheater partnered Matt Mills in the centre of the Wanderers defence and Tim Ream, in his fetching batman fancy dress, was deployed at left back.

Desperate for three points, Bolton started the game brightly with South Korea international, Chung-Yong Lee looking lively from the start, the winger had two efforts thwarted within the first ten minutes and new signing Liam Trotter, curiously utilised in the ‘number 10' role, nodded a header wide after a cross from the ever-improving Alex Baptiste.

Burnley have two of the best players in our division, Danny Ings and Kieran Trippier, and the former was finding his feet early on, despite being scythed down by David Wheater within the first 5 minutes. Ings and Scott Arfield both created opportunities for each other with neither able to convert.

Despite, the fast-paced start, the game began to slow down but it was Bolton who were on top and managed to apply a serious spell of pressure with successive corners backed with good delivery from the left foot of  the bearded maestro Tim Ream. Burnley, with fine defensive work from Jason Shackwell, were able to stave off the Wanderers pressure.

The first half continued in the same pattern as Bolton were able to establish an attacking presence due to the fine work of front man Lukas Jutkiewicz, a player Bolton Wanderers have simply been crying out for all season. Bolton's efforts were largely from distance as Medo Kamara fired too high and 'long shot specialist' Chris Eagles tested the hands of Burnley stopper Tom Heaton with a well hit low effort and David Wheater came close with a header.

Burnley started the second half in lightning fashion as David Jones, a perennial rival who has now played for Manchester United, Preston, Wolves, Wigan, Blackburn and Burnley tested Adam Bogdan immediately after the restart with Michael Kightly's follow up quickly blocked. The game seemed to be slowly edging in Burnley's favour and it was a question of whether Bolton could hold their own resolve.

To the surprise of few, Bolton quickly succumbed. Burnley FC striker Sam Vokes was on hand to tap home from a low cross from Kightly and Burnley had their lead. Under pressure manager Dougie Freedman immediately reacted with the introductions of both Mark Davies and Andre Moritz, although Moritz was soon to leave the pitch as he was clearly struggling with injury and was replaced with Neil Danns.

The anxiety amongst the Wanderers players was palpable and this was manifesting itself in frequent poor decision making. This was evident particularly in former Burnley forward Chris Eagles as he continued to fire harmlessly high and wide whilst other passing options were available to the frequent delight of the travelling Burnley contingent.

Bolton had clearly lost their attacking impetus as Lukas Jutkiewicz was clearly done in terms of running and was very short in support from midfield to apply pressure on the Burnley back line who were more than happy running down the clock and securing the win.

Aside from Eagles' reckless and wasteful shooting, Alex Baptiste managed to find space in a position from which he has netted before on his left foot at the edge of the Burnley area but the shot was effectively charged down by the impressive Burnley defence.

Bolton's late pressure would come in the form of two typically wasted set-piece efforts. Firstly, Chris Eagles was unsurprisingly unable to test Tom Heaton after firing a low free kick low at the Burnley wall and American Tim Ream was unable to beat the first man with the final meaningful contribution to the evenings proceedings condemning Bolton to yet another home defeat and adding further to the growing pressure at The Reebok Stadium. Bolton now head away to Millwall in what has become a relegation six pointer that Bolton simply cannot afford to lose.