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Bolton Dismantle Stoke City


Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Stoke City

Stoke City endured a baptism of fire in the Premier League against Bolton Wanderers this afternoon. The home side, competing in their eighth consecutive top-flight season, had far too much for Tony Pulis’ inexperienced outfit, and were out of sight at half-time…



As welcomes go, this was one of the cruellest. Although capable of holding their own against their established hosts for the first quarter of the encounter, Stoke sprung a leak that quickly became a flood. A freak Gretar Steinsson strike broke their resistance just after the half hour; the Icelander’s attempted cross flew from the right wing and into the far top corner with Thomas Sorensen stranded.

Kevin Davies added a headed second just seven minutes later, Gary Cahill’s cross was met by the 31-year-old striker on the penalty spot to double the Bolton lead.

Before the half was out, Stoke were thoroughly routed. Joey O’Brien drifted a straight free-kick into the Stoke area and the Potters’ woeful offside trap allowed Johan Elmander to open his Premier League account unmarked.

Despite a late consolation by Ricardo Fuller, Tony Pulis is left with more questions than answers. If his side are to survive, a leaky back-line needs to be shored up.

First Half:

Gary Megson handed Bolton debuts to Fabrice Muamba and Johan Elmander for the home side, while Thomas Sorensen, Seyi Olofinjana and Dave Kitson started their first league games for newly promoted Stoke City.

The guests were equal to their more established hosts for the opening minutes of the encounter; long throw specialist Rory Delap launched some cannonballs into the Bolton area that had the home side under pressure. Dave Kitson had an early chance to open his Stoke account, but he headed over after five minutes.

New Bolton signing Johan Elmander was causing trouble for Tony Pulis’ back-line throughout the first half; the Swede’s clever movement opened avenues for opportunities. He was unlucky not to score on eight minutes with a powerful right footed strike, but he was to have his moment and a debut goal before half-time.

The hosts established a foothold in tie and made their Premier League experience count. J Lloyd Samuel raced clear on the left wing to cross on the half hour, Matthew Taylor couldn’t sort his feet out and the chance went begging.

It did not take Bolton long to open their league account after that, and turned the encounter entirely in their own favour. The first goal however arrived in the most unusual of circumstances.

Kevin Nolan released Gretar Steinsson on the right wing. The Icelandic full-back crossed waywardly 20 yards from goal, but the ball looped over Thomas Sorensen and into the top corner. Bolton doubled their advantage shortly after through a familiar source.

In the meantime, Fabrice Muamba should have grabbed his first Bolton goal; Elmander’s hard work saw him slalom through the Stoke rear-guard; he picked out the ex-Arsenal player on the edge of the box but he fired over.

Kevin Davies then connected with a Gary Cahill free-kick while holding Stoke’s Leon Cort and Ryan Shawcross at bay to head Bolton into a two-nil lead, as the home side continued to punish their visitors during a particularly ruthless spell.

Shambolic marking led to Bolton extending their lead to three goals before the half was out; a Joey O’Brien free-kick 45 yards from goal was floated into the box. Johan Elmander made a diagonal run to connect with a header and put his new side out of sight. As he glanced the ball home, there was scarcely a Stoke player in attendance.

Second Half:

Wanderers picked up from where they left off after the break, Muamba found Elmander with a killer pass, but the ex-Toulouse man failed to find a finish.

However, Stoke began to make gradual improvement and began to involve Dave Kitson more effectively into the contest.

Stoke had their best chance ten minutes later; substitute Ricardo Fuller forced Jussi Jaaskelainen’s first save of the encounter with a header as the game became fragmented.

Two minutes later and Stoke had a genuine opportunity to claw their way back into the fixture. Leon Cort’s header should have been on target from a Liam Lawrence free-kick, but the defender could only head over from six yards.

Despite rumblings of a Stoke resurgence, the home side went close to adding a fourth. Kevin Nolan played a delightful one-two with Elmander but his poorly struck shot found only the tireless Dave Kitson on the line to clear. Matthew Taylor then had an acrobatic effort tipped behind by Sorensen with ten minutes to play.

A late, half-hearted penalty appeal for an alleged Andy O’Brien handball was then waved away by Chris Foy as Stoke were denied another opportunity to fight back.

The guests continued to push for a late consolation prize deep into injury-time despite the tie being patently beyond them; Richard Cresswell clipped the crossbar before Ricardo Fuller managed to reduce the arrears with the very last touch of the game. He nodded home from an Andy Griffin cross.

Defensive frailties could not be masked for Tony Pulis’ side. Bolton will not be the Premier League’s top scorers this season, but they found goals remarkably easy to come by throughout the first half and had the points in the bag after on 45 minutes.

There is potential in this Stoke outfit, as they proved with a flurry of late activity, however, improvements at the back are imperative if the Potters are going to avoid the Championship trap-door.

Line Ups:

Bolton Wanderers (4-4-2): Jaaskelainen -Steinsson, Cahill, O'Brien, Samuel - O'Brien, Nolan, Muamba, Taylor - Davies, Elmander (McCann 75’). Subs not used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Gardner, Mustapha, Shittu, Cohen


Stoke City (4-4-2): Sorensen, Wilkinson (Dickinson 76’), Cort, Shawcross, Griffin - Delap, Olofinjana, Whelan (Lawrence 56’), Cresswell - Kitson, Sidibe (Fuller 65’). Subs not used: Simonsen, Pericard, Diao, Faye

Goals:

Bolton: Steinsson 33’, Davies 40’, Elmander, 45’

Stoke: Fuller 90'

Cards:

Bolton: Steinsson 60’

Stoke: Olofinjana 62’ Lawrence 90'

Attendance:

22,717

Referee:

Chris Foy


Gretar Steinsson scored a stunner to give Bolton the lead over Stoke.


34′ G Steinsson

41′ K Davies

45′ J Elmander

90′ R Fuller








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Bolton Dismantle Stoke City Reviewed by admin Ucop on 6:15 PM Rating: 5

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