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MATCH VERDICT: Burton continues to be stumbling block

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Wanderers were left wondering how they didn’t secure all three points in the second half, but there were still positives to take from their 1-1 draw at Burton.

The Pirelli Stadium has proved to be a difficult place to visit in recent years, and the 3-1 defeat was no doubt in the memories of the supporters who made the journey.

There were also concerns over how the Whites would handle the Brewers’ physical threat after the painful defeat against Wigan last time out.

Ian Evatt’s men generally dealt with the barrage of crosses into their box well but were left ruing a soft goal to concede early in the second half, with Mark Helm given too much space to sweep home at the far post.

Dion Charles got his side back on level terms with a composed finish on his return to the side following his controversial sending off against Fleetwood.

Wanderers should have gone on to win the game, with Victor Adeboyejo going agonisingly close on a couple of occasions at his former stomping ground.

Ian Evatt was frustrated after the final whistle, but the boss can take encouragement from his side’s character after going behind, particularly after a challenging week in which plenty of criticism was aimed their way.

Evatt opted to make three changes to the Bolton side, with Dan Nlundulu dropping to the bench for Charles.

The tenacious forward partnered Adeboyejo who scored 13 goals for the Brewers during the first half of last season.

George Thomason and Paris Maghoma came into the midfield, while Aaron Morley and Josh Sheehan dropped to the bench.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson was also named in the squad, having made his first appearance of the campaign during the final 14 minutes against Wigan following an injury setback.

However, Eoin Toal didn’t make the squad as he continues his journey back from an ankle problem picked up while on international duty with Northern Ireland over the summer.

The hosts came out of the blocks at a frantic pace, pressing relentlessly and asking plenty of questions of the Bolton backline.

The Whites had an early let off when Bobby Kamwa pounced on an error by Jack Iredale and went round Nathan Baxter before hitting the post from a tight angle. Ricardo Santos did well to get and put the attacker under pressure.

Evatt’s men were clearly rocked from the Wigan defeat, which came as a rude awakening after a very promising start to the campaign.

But Wanderers managed to weather the early storm and started to dictate the play, with Max Crocombe making a smart stop at his near post to keep out Randell Williams’ deflected strike.

Evatt’s men were almost hit with a sucker punch at the other end after a lapse in concentration from Nathan Baxter, but Rekeem Harper could only send a low drive wide.

Joe Powell, who bombarded the Bolton box with set-pieces, picked out John Brayford with a deep corner on the half-hour mark but the defender couldn’t keep his header down.

Randell Williams slipped in Charles with a clever through ball on the stroke of half time, but Max Crocombe managed to gather the ball after some brave goalkeeping.

Wanderers were forced into a change at half-time, with Santos making way for Will Forrester. The skipper had been struggling after being caught by a late challenge in the early stages.

The second half got off to a nightmare start for the Whites as Helm broke the deadlock after an attack down the right. The backline were perhaps still trying to find their bearings after losing the skipper.

Adeboyejo nearly provided an immediate response but his acrobatic volley was blocked in front of goal by Brayford. The Burton defender didn’t seem to know much about it, in truth.

Maghoma also fired an effort over from inside the box after latching onto Iredale’s drilled pass from the resulting corner.

It wasn’t long before Evatt’s men got back on level terms, with Charles keeping his cool to take the ball away from the onrushing Crocombe and fire into the empty net after combining with Kyle Dempsey.

The goal came at an important time - the pressure on the Bolton squad would have continued to build the longer the game stayed at 1-0.

The momentum had now swung in Wanderers’ favour and Dempsey played Charles through on goal again moments later, but this time the offside flag came to Burton’s rescue.

The hosts also posed a threat in the final third and thought they had regained the lead after a spot of pinball in the box, but Josh Dacres-Cogley made an important clearance.

The end-to-end nature continued as Maghoma teed up Williams, who could only fire into the side netting midway through the second half.

Adeboyejo then missed a big opportunity to put his side in front, with Crocombe making a brilliant reaction stop from close range after some good wing play by Dacres-Cogley.

The 25-year-old has had a positive start to the season, scoring four goals including his rapid hat trick against Fleetwood, but it wasn’t his day on this occasion.

Evatt made a triple change in an attempt to seize control of the game, with Josh Sheehan, Carlos Mendes Gomes and Cameron Jerome replacing Maghoma, Dempsey and Adeboyejo.

Josh Dacres-Cogley had plenty of joy on the right and Charles was inches from reaching his inviting cross with a diving header.

Dan Nlundulu also joined the fray in the final stages, but the Whites couldn’t find a late winner against the Brewers.

Despite Burton’s tough start to the new campaign, there is no denying it is a tough place to win games.

Dino Maamria’s side always seem to play with a real intensity that is difficult to deal with, but Wanderers will be frustrated they couldn’t take advantage when the spaces started to open up during the final stages.

Another defeat would have really dented morale, and it could well prove to be a precious point come the end of the season.

Thomason and Maghoma seemed to be natural fits for this type of fixture and perhaps should have been in the starting line-up against Wigan, although it is easy to make such judgements in hindsight.

Toal’s imminent return will also be a major boost, particularly if Santos is facing a spell on the sidelines, although it will take time for the centre-back to build his sharpness back up after missing the entirety of pre-season.

Wanderers might benefit from being the underdogs against Middlesbrough on Tuesday night. Evatt’s men will no doubt be keen to take the game to their Championship counterparts.

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