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Bolton Sunk in Season Opener

Bolton Wanderers
2 - 3
Leeds United

Macron Stadium

6 August

Attendance: 19,857


Bolton made their return to the Championship yesterday but there was no dream start as they lost 3-2 at home to Leeds in an action packed game.

Wanderers really didn`t do themselves justice in the first half. There was a great atmosphere made by both sets of fans, but our fans were made quiet in the seventh minute. Kalvin Phillips wasn`t picked up at a short corner by Jem Karacan, Pablo Hernandez picked him out, and an effort was curled past Mark Howard.

Leeds had a number of new forward signings, one which was Macedonian winger Ezgjan Alioski, who managed head a cross over back inside to Chris Wood, and last season`s Championship top scorer headed home to double Leeds` advantage.

Despite the tough situation, Wanderers didn`t throw the towel in, and we got back into the game from a set-piece. Gary Madine, comfortably the best player in a white shirt, dominated the Leeds back line from a corner and managed to head in. All that hard work to get a foothold in the game was thrown away within moments though.

Stephen Darby had a debut to forget, and you could see him sticking his hand up for an offside which wasn`t there because he played two men on, as some awful defending allowed Leeds in again and Kalvin Phillips`s second of the game meant that Phil Parkinson`s Bolton had conceded three goals in 90 minutes for the first time, never mind 45.

Madine nearly got a second in stoppage time, taking on a volley from distance that nearly caught out Leeds` new German keeper Felix Wiedwald.

Wanderers were much better after the break though. The visitors` had the first chance of the half, but Howard made sure he wasn`t beaten at the near post denying Alioski.

Wanderers then got a penalty though, Madine had his shirt pulled in the box at a corner and Adam Le Fondre stepped up to get off the mark for the season, although Leeds nearly got a fourth a minute later as Hernandez hit the woodwork from 20 yards out. But we looked a bit better at the back and Josh Cullen grew into the game. Josh Vela picked up a nasty blow to his ankle at the end of the game, with David Wheater also carrying an injury into the game and having to be replaced by Reece Burke in the second half.

It is one game though, and there is no point reviewing things with any sort of finality. Darby had a shocker of a debut, but he could go on to be a decent player. Some have suggested he would be better suited to a back four, but whatever happens he shouldn`t be written off because of one game. Losing the season opener is never ideal, but this campaign will obviously be harder than the last one, there was fight in the second half, and two strikers are off the mark. Next week`s match at Millwall may be the best chance of a win early in the season, promise will have to turn to points eventually.

Star Player

Gary Madine was excellent. So influential last season, but not so in his last Championship season. His start to the season was excellent though, giving the Leeds defenders real problems in the penalty area, scoring the goal, as well as the audacious attempt that wasn`t far off coming off.

Writer:Anthony Hart
Date:Monday August 7 2017
Time: 11:12AM

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