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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-0 Bristol City

I am not entirely sure why I went to this but here is a report on it…

Jay Spearing in action when Bristol City last visited Bolton in 2012
Jay Spearing in action when Bristol City last visited Bolton in 2012
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

Well I travelled all the way from Bristol to watch the cities only real football club take on a predictably poor Bolton Wanderers side.

The game started in fitting fashion with Bolton losing possession within about ten seconds of taking the kick off. From that point on it was clear it was going to be a frustrating day at the Macron and a turgid first half did little to alleviate that opinion.

Bristol City were poor but managed to edge the first half as Bolton were even worse, in the interests of keeping this article at the level of a PG I will leave it there...

From an attacking perspective Bolton found little joy in the opening 45 minutes. Liam Feeney made a few good runs but sorely lacked a quality final ball. The best opportunity of the half for the home team was when Feeney was played in down the left. All he had to do was put the ball across the box towards a white shirt, but instead pulled it back into open space where there was no Bolton player.

The stats said that we had one shot on goal in the opening half, but I have no recollection of this actually happening...

City also struggled to create any real chances in the first half. This was barring one horrendous piece of defending by Prince-Désir Gouano which nearly led to an unbelievably fortuitous opening goal for the visitors. If that had gone in then I am not sure whether I would have laughed or cried but thankfully the looping ball came back off the top of cross bar and was cleared by the no doubt highly relived Prince. Based on that moment I think someone needs to tell Prince that it is not Christmas yet so he should hold fire on the gifts…

City had four shots on goal during the opening half, but only one was on target and none of them really tested Ben Amos in the Bolton goal.

The second half began far more brightly for Bolton after Gary Madine replaced the ineffectual Stephen Dobbie to partner, the up to that point slightly less ineffective, Shola Ameobi upfront. Bolton finally posed an attacking threat, more adorable kitten trying to attack a piece of string being dangled in its face than lion attacking its pray. But still it was a vast improvement on the first half.

This new found threat led to a penalty for the home side. Madine was shoved over in the box and the joke of a referee Stuart Attwell made his only correct decision of the afternoon pointing to the spot.

Then, much to my dread, Ameobi stepped up. His penalty was literally worse than a school boy as many beat Lofty the Lion with better efforts during half time. The effort was saved and Madine put the follow up so far over the cross bar that the old guy in the John Lewis Christmas advert now has a football to go with his new telescope.

There was another penalty shout later in the half. I didn’t really see it, but given Attwell didn’t award it I assume it must have been a stone wall spot kick. I don’t know how common it is to miss two penalties in one match but no doubt that is what would have happened had the useless referee awarded it.

Bolton though did continue to pose a threat, even if they did look toothless, for much of the second half. First Feeney was denied when played into a fantastic position. His shot was decent but didn't test Franky Fielding in the City goal as much as we would have liked.

Then there were the Madine chances. Two good crosses, two free headers and twice the ball struck the same patch of turf a good few meters wide of the City goal. Right now I don't think Madine could hit a barn door by detonating a nuclear warhead but that’s beside the point.

Bolton did have the ball in the back of the City net. Unfortunately Ameobi's tap in at the far post was ruled out for offside. Those with a better view of the incident inform me that this was the correct decision, and given it was the linesman and not Attwell who called it they are probably right.

There was good build up play at times from Bolton during the second period, but playing Madine and Ameobi upfront is literally asking not to score goals. Having said that I felt they played well together during the second half, and Ameobi was far better than he was in the first period.

City also looked dangerous at times in the second half. There were a couple of occasions where if they had managed to get the ball across the box they would likely have had a tap in. This was courtesy of some questionable positioning at times by Josh Vela, who I did in fairness think had a decent game overall back at right back.

For one spell City even showed the slick passing football which made them a genuine pleasure to watch which waltzing to the League One title last season. But rather like Bolton they just lacked that cutting edge. This was despite Jonathan Kodjia playing for the away team who has impressed so far this season scoring numerous goals in the process.

Overall I think City will be happy to have taken a point back down the M5 with them and Bolton will be aggrieved not to have secured a second win of the season. There are a lot of games to come and only time will tell whether this result is good enough for either side who are both, based on Saturday's showing, likely to be in a relegation fight come the business end of the season.