Bolton Wanderers and Blackburn Rovers played out a scrappy 0-0 in front of the Sky cameras at Ewood Park. No goals, but plenty of controversial decisions and a spirited performance that Neil Lennon should be relatively happy with.
Lennon made one change to the starting XI from the Nottingham Forest game, with Liam Feeney replacing Tom Walker on the right wing.
The first fifteen or so minutes consisted of Blackburn squandering chances, with Shane Duffy heading harmlessly over from a free kick and a long throw in from Tommy Spurr. Then came the first of several slightly dubious decisions by referee Paul Tierney.
Zach Clough had found his way into the box, only to be tripped by Duffy, nothing given. Perhaps Clough's decision to get straight up made up Tierney's mind. Immediately after, Mark Davies made burst into the box, only to be tripped by Rovers player Craig Conway. Again, nothing given. Unbelievable.
Wanderers front line struggled to create chances, as at the other end, Jordan Rhodes comfortably beat Dorian Dervite in the air, only to see his header clear the bar. It was clearly a frustrating night for the Whites, as Wellington Silva kicked out at Adam Henley off the ball just after the half hour mark. A yellow card was given, although if Henley had made a bigger fuss it could have easily been a red. A naive move from the young Brazilian.
While Gary Madine did his best to hold up the ball in Rovers half, he was easily beaten in the air by Shane Duffy. Chances were few in the first half for Bolton. Just before half time, Neil Danns scuffed a shot wide, before Madine headed over from a decent cross by Liam Feeney. Perhaps Madine should have left it for Wellington, who was unmarked on the far post.
Wanderers enjoyed a larger share of the possession in the second half, although this was to avail. Bolton lacked the killer instinct up front and again stuggled to test Rovers' 19 year old goalkeeper David Raya. Grant Hanley was shown yellow for a rash challenge on Silva, who had made an emphatic run towards Blackburn's box.
Paul Tierney then continued his questionable refereeing display. Zach Clough was clearly fouled, went down and held the ball, obviously expecting Tierney to blow for a Whites free kick. Instead, the free kick was given against Clough for handball.
This, as well as many other dodgy decisions clearly riled up Neil Lennon. Subsequently, the drinks box felt the full force of Lennon's anger.
Former Wanderer, Danny Guthrie, then made an appearance for Blackburn, as well as ex trialist Modou Barrow. It would be two other substitutes who would have the final say on the game though.
Blackburn had their first shot of the game on target, with Spurr having his header cleared off the line by captain Mark Davies. Koita then cleared the bar with the rebound.
With five minutes to go. Blackburn's Bengali-Fodé Koita had his goal disallowed for an easy offside decision. It was then the turn of Emile Ivanhoe Heskey. The long standing thorn to Rovers, found himself in the box ready to pounce. Zach Clough hit the ball across the box, Raya palmed it straight towards former England international Heskey. Emile struck the ball perfectly, only for Shane Duffy, the person who had nullified Gary Madine in the air all game, to make a brilliant goal line clearance.
Into inury time, Neil Danns did his typical pirouette and lost possession. This led to Dorian Dervite being shown a second yellow card for a needless challenge on Koita. He'll now miss the next game against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
So, the game ended a stalemate. Nine bookings, two shots on target. Wanderers should of had a penalty, while Silva could have seen red.
It was an impressive defensive display, despite some questionable touches from Prince. The midfield was solid enough, and Mark Davies again gave an admirable display as the stand in captain. Silva had another encouraging performance. The forward line is still lacking, Madine is clearly struggling with a lack of confidence, and with the transfer window closing on Tuesday, Lennon may well need to look for an extra option up front. Andrea Orlandi is currently on trial, whether or not he would anything extra to the Wanderers squad remains to be seen.
Bolton now head into the international break 22nd in the table, on 3 points, still looking for that first win of the season.