Report: Bolton 1-2 Burnley
Wanderers suffered a harsh defeat at the hands of Burnley at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Following a goalless first period which had seen Bolton dominate for the most part, the deadlock was finally broken with 21 minutes of the game remaining as Liam Feeney prodded home at the far post when latching onto Gary Madine’s cross.
The visitors were level in fortuitous circumstances just four minutes later however as Andre Gray bundled home from close range after his initial shot had been parried out.
The division’s leading goalscorer doubled his advantage meanwhile with five minutes remaining, latching onto a ball downfield and firing home from distance to secure all three points against the run of play for the Clarets.
Emile Heskey was in from the off for Wanderers, while Rachubka continued in goal in the absence of the injured Ben Amos.
Former Bolton midfielder Matthew Taylor meanwhile was amongst Burnley’s substitutes.
With Wanderers forced to shoot against the North Stand in the first period – something of unfamiliar territory for the home side – the game got underway and it was Bolton who were enjoying the most sights of goal inside the opening stages.
A succession of corners however came to nothing much, but it was certainly a signal of intent from Neil Lennon’s side early on with Heskey proving himself a handful for Tom Heaton and his defence.
It was all Bolton inside the first ten minutes, with the visitors struggling to get a foothold in the clash, although the Clarets’ keeper was yet to be really tested.
Josh Vela was to enjoy the Whites’ first real chance of the game in the 20th minute as, following a clever cross from the left flank by Liam Feeney, the academy graduate drilled goalwards from just inside the box, only to see his angled effort whisk narrowly wide of the far post.
Heskey and Feeney combined well soon after with the latter collecting the frontman’s knock-down, but he was unable to get his shot away halfway inside the box under pressure.
It wasn’t until 25 minutes in that Burnley came close themselves, with George Boyd firing wide when in on goal with Rob Holding hot on his heels.
Wanderers were soon back on the attack though, with Feeney’s low driven cross ricocheting around the box, pinging off a number of bodies before eventually going out of play on the half hour mark.
It was still very much Bolton’s game as the half time whistle drew nearer, with a Feeney free-kick into the mix on the stroke of half time causing carnage amongst the Burnley defence, but nobody was able to turn the ball home as the first period ended goalless.
With no changes at the break, the game got back underway at a dry yet chilly Macron Stadium and Wanderers almost drew first blood with the half three minutes old as, following a fluid period of passing downfield, Dean Moxey whipped the ball into a crowded penalty area with Zach Clough unable to keep his shot down with the goal at his mercy.
The visitors meanwhile were enjoying a little more of the ball than they had done in the first half, but were still struggling to get any meaningful efforts on goal.
Jay Spearing, who had enjoyed a recent purple patch in front of goal, tried his luck from a similar position to his two previous strikes in the 54th minute, only to see his shot clear Heaton’s crossbar.
Bolton’s pressure continued however, with Feeney seeing a curled effort from the edge of the penalty area clear the goalmouth by a matter of inches.
The winger was causing carnage for the visitors, while the Whites were getting closer and closer to breaking the deadlock.
Burnley meanwhile were biding their time in terms of their own action in front of goal, with the Bolton defence having to keep firm tabs on Sam Vokes and Andre Gray.
It wasn’t either striker however but almost James Tarkowski who opened the scoring against the run of play, with the Clarets’ recent addition drilling agonisingly wide shortly after the hour mark.
The 64th minute of the game saw Wanderers’ first change of the game, with Gary Madine coming on in place of Heskey.
With a quarter of the match to go however, the deadlock was finally broken as Pratley pick-pocketed the ball deep in Burnley territory, played the ball to Madine who fired it across the face of goal with Feeney given the simple task of prodding home at the far post.
Completely and utterly deserved on the Whites’ part, the visitors were back level in fortunate circumstances just four minutes later as Rachubka palmed away Gray’s initial effort, but the Championship’s top scorer bundled in the rebound.
Despite the setback, Wanderers continued to pile forward in a bid to restore their lead and as the game entered its final ten minutes, the game was balanced on a knife edge.
It was the hosts who were looking the more likely, but out of nowhere the Clarets snatched the lead as Gray latched onto a clever through ball, raced through and fired home from just outside of the box with five minutes remaining.
So very harsh on Neil Lennon’s side, they were nearly back level with a Burnley man almost heading into his own net in the 89th minute with Heaton forced into a smart reflex save to keep the ball out.
With four minutes of additional time indicated, there was a goalmouth scramble for Wanderers with nobody able to turn the ball home in a crowded six yard box, but it was in vain as Bolton suffered the harshest of defeats.