Bolton Wanderers slumped to rock bottom of the Championship as they suffered yet another away day defeat, this time at the hands of promotion chasing Lancashire rivals Burnley. The loss means Bolton have only won once in 12 matches in all competitions this season, and drawn one and lost five of their six away matches.
Striker Andre Gray, who signed for a reported £9 million fee from Brentford in the summer, was the main difference between the sides, scoring twice and causing problems for Wanderers' defence throughout.
Manager Neil Lennon made five changes to the side that started at QPR including changing three of the back four, with Jose Manuel Casado coming in to make his debut in place of the injured Dean Moxey, while David Wheater and Derik Osede coming in for Prince and Francesco Pisano. Wellington Silva replaced Max Clayton and Mark Davies was surprisingly dropped in place of Jay Spearing, who made his first start since the opening day of the season.
Wanderers started off well and Neil Danns forced a great save out of Tom Heaton in the first five minutes. Liam Feeney was looking lively down the right, linking up well with right-back Derik, and knocked a great ball into the box only to see Heaton claim the ball just before Gary Madine could get his head onto it.
Gray looked a real threat for Burnley, including on 20 minutes giving Dorian Dervite a five yard headstart and racing past him before hitting a shot narrowly wide of Ben Amos' left post.
Wanderers had played well in the first half, with Spearing in particular doing well to prevent Burnley's midfield duo of David Jones and Joey Barton controlling the game. But on 36 minutes Spearing caught his studs in the turf as he went into a tackle and had to be replaced by Mark Davies, and from that moment on Wanderers increasingly began to struggle.
However, minutes after Spearing's departure Wanderers should have been in front. Silva swung a corner in to Feeney at the back post but he couldn't continue his goalscoring form as he was denied by Heaton, then the ball came back into the box and Dervite could only head the ball straight at Heaton.
Moments later and Burnley should also have been in front as Casado played a poor ball across his own goal straight to Scott Arfield, who shot narrowly wide. Burnley had another chance to go in front on the verge of half-time, as Sam Vokes' goal-bound shot beat Amos but Wheater got back to make a superb clearance off the line.
Davies had a shot shortly before half-time, but neither team was able to break the deadlock until ten minutes into the second half. Amos made two superb saves from first Gray and then Arfield to keep Burnley out, only to be let down by his defenders for the second match in a row as Gray was in hand for a tap in completely unmarked six yards out after Amos parried Arfield's strike.
Bolton should have been level soon after as Casado whipped in an excellent cross from the left to Feeney at the far post, but the winger skewed it tamely wide of the near post.
Soon enough Burnley made us pay as Arfield jogged towards the box completely unchallenged and played in Gray in acres of space on the edge of the box to fire home with ease.
Gray went close to wrapping up his hat-trick but was well denied by a Amos double save after a good cross from Vokes had found his strike partner completely unmarked once again.
Wanderers nearly found a way back into the match but Wheater's header from Feeney's chipped cross was cleared off the line by full-back Tendayi Darikwa.
Neil Lennon came out after the match and said that while he was disappointed there were a lot of positives for Wanderers to take from the defeat and that the result flattered Burnley. It's true that Wanderers did play fairly well and had several chances to take the lead in the first half, but once again the defence has completely let us down for both goals.