Rash of back trouble haunts Megson
Burnley 1 Bolton Wanderers 1
Monday 28 December 2009
A thoroughly engaging Lancashire derby, the first they have played at this level for 45 years, nevertheless exposed why these two sides could have trouble surviving in the Premier League at the end of this season.
For all their formidable record at Turf Moor, where only Wigan Athletic have come away with all three points, Burnley have become specialists in home draws. Given that they still show no sign of amassing many points on their travels, that might not be good enough.
And Bolton, although they are carrying a little more attacking threat these days, have completely lost the art, so carefully cultivated under a succession of managers, of keeping clean sheets. It is a feat they have not managed all season and the warning signs are there that it could cost them dear.
With the effervescent Korean, Lee Chung-yong, on the wing and with Ivan Klasnic at least looking like a natural scorer, the Wanderers present more of a threat than they have done for some time.
Better still, Matthew Taylor (right) has started to strike a ball with his old venom once more, something he demonstrated with his stunning 29th-minute free-kick into the top near-post corner of Brian Jensen's net.
The trouble is that Bolton's old defensive stability is a fading memory, despite what should be the reassuring presences of Jussi Jaaskelainen and the highly rated Gary Cahill, who spent a season on loan at Burnley early in his career.
Saturday's equaliser was a case in point. The right-wing cross from the outstanding Wade Elliott was directed into the right area, but it needed decisive action from someone before David Nugent headed home.
"It was well taken by Nugent, but from our point of view it was lax and I would expect us to deal with it better," said Bolton's Gary Megson, echoing a recurring sentiment this season.
There was much to like about Burnley's approach before and after that goal, but they know that they really should have gone on to win the match.
Elliott and Chris Eagles gave them good width and they frequently had Bolton stretched.
Nugent could have had a couple more, Kevin McDonald hit the bar and the two best chances of all fell to their leading scorer, Steven Fletcher, who missed opportunities laid on by the clever wing play of Elliott and Eagles.
Klasnic and Taylor went close for Bolton, but they lost their momentum in the second half and finished an entertaining match hanging on with a degree of desperation.
It was a hard-earned point for both sides, but one which, in the final analysis, might not be enough to keep either of them afloat.
Burnley (4-4-2): Jensen; Mears, Duff, Bikey, Jordan; Elliott, Alexander, McDonald, Eagles; Fletcher (Blake, 80), Nugent. Substitutes not used: Penny (gk), Kalvenes, Gudjonsson, Edgar, Thompson, Guerrero.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen; Robinson, Cahill, Knight, Steinsson; Taylor, Basham, Cohen, Lee (Gardner, 73); K Davies, Klasnic (M Davies, 67). Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Samuel, Elmander, Ricketts, A O'Brien.
Referee: C Foy (Merseyside).
Man of the match: Elliott.
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