Report: Burnley 2-0 Bolton
Wanderers fell to a 2-0 defeat against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday afternoon.
Following a goalless opening period, the home side opened the scoring in the 56th minute through Andre Gray, the frontman turning the ball into the net from close range after a number of impressive reflex saves from Ben Amos.
Gray then doubled his and Burnley’s advantage 12 minutes later, finding himself in space in the area following a counter attack before firing home to make sure of the result for the Clarets.
There was a debut for Jose Manuel Casado in defence, while Jay Spearing was recalled to the starting XI for Wanderers. There was also a place on the bench for Emile Heskey on his return from a lay-off through injury.
The opening proceedings of the clash were fairly even, with much of the play being contested in the middle third of the pitch while a few feisty challenges flew in to set the tone for the game.
Neil Danns enjoyed the first real opportunity of the match however with three minutes gone, with Tom Heaton having to be on his guard to palm away his stinging shot from the edge of the box after clever link-up play between Wellington and Darren Pratley.
Buoyed by their bright start, Bolton continued in a similar vein, with Gary Madine almost pick-pocketing his marker deep into Burnley’s box after a Liam Feeney free-kick only to narrowly miss out.
From here, the home side found their feet a little with Wanderers finding themselves pushed on the back foot as the Clarets enjoyed a number of set-pieces, including a penalty shout being turned down for Spearing’s challenge on George Boyd.
The ascendancy was soon back in the Whites’ favour however, although Andre Gray did flash a shot wide on the counter attack after shrugging off the challenge of his marker Dervite.
Wellington was proving to be instrumental for Wanderers with his runs down the left flank, with Joey Barton earning himself a booking for a foul on the Brazilian with 25 minutes on the clock.
It was a typical feisty derby encounter, with both sides going all out in attack to open the scoring.
An injury to Spearing halted proceedings briefly just after the half hour mark, and although the midfielder attempted to carry on in the game, he was ultimately replaced by Mark Davies shortly afterwards.
Wanderers then proceeded to come close to breaking the deadlock twice in quick succession, firstly through Feeney’s thunderous volley from an angle and then via a Dervite header from halfway inside the area.
The home side responded immediately with a close shave of their own, this time Scott Arfield seeing his piledriver fizzle narrowly wide of the upright.
The tempo of the clash certainly wasn’t for calming, with Vokes seeing an effort cleared off the line by David Wheater after eluding the Bolton defence with just two minutes of the half remaining while Davies’ powerful shot was saved by Heaton on the stroke of half time.
Burnley did find themselves on the attack as two minutes of additional time were indicated, but the first period ended goalless.
With no changes at the break for either side, the second period got underway and it was Wanderers who had the first sight of goal, Wellington flashing a curled effort wide of the mark inside the opening 90 seconds.
The winger was in the thick of the action again shortly after, trailblazing his way to the corner of the Burnley box, only to be dispossessed at the death.
The noise level inside Turf Moor cranked up a notch as the game wore on, with both the home and away fans in good voice to create an impressive atmosphere.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 56th minute of the clash, with Burnley striker Gray turning home from close range after a number of good reflex saves from Ben Amos led to the ball falling into the frontman’s path with him unmarked in front of goal.
A harsh goal on the Whites, they were almost back level on the hour mark but neither Madine nor Feeney could turn home a wicked cross into the box from Casado.
The Spaniard was in the mix once again moments later, with Feeney this time putting his shot into the side netting.
Wanderers were pushing in search of an equaliser, but were ultimately undone on the counter attack as Gray found himself in space before firing past Amos in the Bolton goal in the 68th minute.
Bolton responded immediately with Danns, already booked, replaced with Heskey for the remaining quarter of the clash.
The home side were bouncing and Wanderers were under the cosh, with a Matt Taylor free-kick narrowly missing Michael Duff at the far post.
Up the other end of the field meanwhile, Wellington saw a free-kick from ten yards outside the box fly agonisingly wide.
Gray came close to his hat-trick soon after, only to be denied by the heroics of Amos at point blank range, while the hosts continued to heap the pressure onto the Bolton defence as the clash entered its final ten minutes.
Bolton threw Stephen Dobbie into the melting pot late on, with the Scot immediately proving a free-kick into the box which saw Wheater’s header cleared off the line with six minutes remaining.
It was almost a third for the home side with a minute to go, but Ben Mee somehow hooked a free-kick away from the Bolton goalmouth in an attempt to poke the ball home.
Taylor almost had a goal against his former employers deep into stoppage time, but Amos was on his guard to put his angled effort behind for a corner and ensure that the deficit remained at two at the final whistle.