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Reflections on an opening day defeat

Posted by Admin - Thu 10th August 2017 9.08AM

Bolton Wanderers 2 Leeds United 3

By William Kirkpatrick

Bolton’s first game back in the Championship was played in rain and mist at the Macron Stadium, the weather hinting at what was to come as the Whites endured a frustrating opener against a strong and experienced Leeds United side.

Bolton’s line up featured new faces for the fans. Josh Cullen, a loanee from West Ham, and Steven Darby start while Adam Armstrong, Will Buckley and Reece Burke made substitute appearances in the second half.

The Whites opted for the five at the back, something which saw them maintain the best defensive record of any team outside the Premier League. This was soon torn apart as Leeds found an opener within six minutes.

A driven corner towards the edge of the box wasn’t closed down quick enough and the resulting shot by Kalvin Phillips looped over Mark Howard.

It went from bad to worse for Bolton on the half hour mark as Chris Wood doubled United’s lead. A looping cross to the back post was met by Ezgjan Alioski who set it up on a plate for Wood and he powered the ball in off the bar.

Despite the scoreline, Bolton was playing some good football and enjoyed the majority of possession but they struggled to break down the Leeds defence.

Gary Madine was used as the target man he is and was easily the best Bolton player on the pitch. He and Bolton were rewarded with a goal as he towered above Leeds defenders in the box following a corner to head the ball in and half the deficit.

Unfortunately, this didn’t result in a change of momentum as Leeds regained their two-goal lead. A through ball to Chris Wood looked offside but Darby kept him just on. Using his strength, he held up the ball, setting up Phillips for his second of the game.

Last season Bolton didn’t concede three or more goals in a single game. Before half time, Howard had to pick the ball out of the net three times.

Another Josh Vela corner towards Madine caused Leeds problems, this time resulting in a penalty for Bolton. Madine’s shirt was pulled almost over his head which was well spotted by the referee. Adam Le Fondre stepped up and dispatched the penalty calmly.

It was a good performance by the Whites in an underserved Leeds win was overshadowed by injuries to David Wheater and Josh Vela in the second half.

Although Wheater’s seems minor, Vela’s big clash at the death of the game forced him to be stretchered off.

With a damaged ankle ligament, Vela looks to miss at least six weeks through injury which could go up to about four months.

Goals from Adam Armstrong and Derik Osede saw Wanderers fight back from a goal down to win 2-1 at Crewe in the first round of the EFL Cup.

 


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