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Match Report: Bolton 5-0 Stoke (Bolton Fan's Perspective)

By Rob
Monday 7th November 2011
Bolton Wanderers finally ended their woeful run of home form and banished memories of their humiliation in last season's FA Cup Semi Final with a 5-0 drubbing of Stoke City at the Reebok Stadium on Sunday.

On the back of seven straight home defeats and a dire start to the season delivering just 6 points from the opening 10 games, things weren't looking promising for Bolton fans. And that situation looked even less sparkly with the visit of Stoke City, who annihilated the Trotters in a 5-0 hammering at Wembley back in April.

But Wanderers finally showed what they are made of by producing a dominant, composed performance to return the five goal defeat favour back to Stoke, who produced a lacklustre, apathetic display following their Euro League exploits. And Bolton finally achieved another clean sheet, having leaked 27 goals in the first 10 Premier League matches of the season.

This was a performance that should inspire confidence into Bolton's players, who produced a series of excellent individual performances on the day. Fabrice Muamba produced a hard-working, industrious man of the match winning performance and, alongside Nigel Reo-Coker completely bossed the midfield berth against Stoke. Meanwhile there were braces from Ivan Klasnic and the mercurial Chris Eagles, who has shown glimpses of promise all season that suggests he just needs confidence to start delivering on a regular basis. Amongst the impressive performances was a dream League debut for 20-year-old right-back Joe Riley, who immediately looks a better choice than the unreliable Gretar Steinsson.

The tone of the game was imposed instantaneously, as Klasnic's quick thinking took advantage of Stoke's sluggish defence when he fed an indirect free-kick for a backpass to Kevin Davies to convert inside 2 minutes. Stoke could have levelled through Peter Crouch and had a series of threatening trademark long-throws and set piece offerings but offered very little of real threat towards the goal of Jussi Jaaskalainen.

Indeed, Wanders took advantage and doubled their lead when Eagles hit a superb low strike from a narrow angle, sending the home side in 2-0 ahead at the break. The excellent Eagles gave the Stoke defence a torrid time throughout and laid on the third goal for striker Klasnic to end all fears of a Stoke comeback just after the hour mark. Stoke then fell apart as the exertions of a heavy fixture list which has seen them play 3 games in 7 days finally caught up with them. Eagles and Klasnic both doubled their own goal tallies as Wanderers completed an imposing rout.

This 5-0 demilition of a weak and tired looking Stoke side could well be be a season changing performance for Bolton. With the players available in Wanderers' squad they shouldn't be struggling as much as they have been and, having just watched Wolves-Wigan go head to head it's clear there are much worse teams in the division.

Perhaps the key to today's victory was the team actually having a recognisable shape, mainly because Owen Coyle finally decided to leave Martin Petrov out of the side (anyone who's read one of my blogs here previously will know how bad I think Petrov is!) For a change the side was able to string passes together, looked dangerous and clinical in attack and the defence stood up to the rare threats the Stoke attack threw at it.

All the Bolton side needs now is to build on the Stoke performance and for the return of the likes of Stuart Holden and Chung Yong-Lee from injury and things could well be looking rosy once again for the Trotters. Stoke, on the other hand, seemingly need to get their European exploits out of the way and begin to concentrate on their fluctuating league form.

Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskalainen; Riley (Knight 90+3), Wheater, Cahill, Robinson; M Davies, Muamba, Reo-Coker (Pratley 88), Eagles; Klasnic (Tuncay 85), K Davies. Unused subs: Ngog, Bogdan, Petrov, Kakuta

Goals: K Davies (2), Eagles (23 & 73), Klasnic (61 & 81)

Stoke City: Begovic; Huth, Upson, Woodgate, Wilkinson (Higginbotham 68); Pennant (Jones 68), Delap, Whelan (Whitehead 69), Walters; Crouch, Jerome. Unused subs: Sorensen, Shotton, Diao, Palacios

Total articles: 69

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