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Liverpool affected by missed chances and bad refereeing in Bolton draw

Three observations on Liverpool's 0-0 draw vs. Championship side Bolton in the FA Cup fourth round at Anfield on Saturday afternoon.

1. Bolton force a rematch at the Reebok Stadium

It wasn't quite a repeat of the FA Cup fourth round's earlier drama on Saturday, but it does at least mean that Liverpool and Bolton will have to go to a replay. There is still the chance of an upset at the Reebok Stadium after this 0-0 draw at Anfield, and Bolton Wanderers and their coach Neil Lennon deserve huge credit for claiming such a result from Liverpool.

In that, the tie can be boiled down to some three simple factors. Bolton's game plan was good, referee Kevin Friend's big decisions were bad and Liverpool's play was that bit uglier than recent games.

Naturally, there are complexities within that. As good as Lennon's tactical set-up was, it was still reliant on excellence from the imperious Adam Bogdan in goal, who pulled off so many exceptional saves. The leap to turn away striker Fabio Borini's second-half effort was especially good.

Bolton's upset also needed Friend to basically bottle a call when Jordan Henderson went down in the box which should have been a penalty. Bolton could have been down to 10 men even before that when already-booked defender Matt Mills appeared to trip attacking midfielder Raheem Sterling on the edge of the area.

At the same time, and even though right-back Javier Manquillo missed such a great chance in the second half, it didn't feel like Liverpool were especially that hard done by or that they really deserved the win.

Yes, they improved in the second half, but Bolton had imposed themselves admirably.

2. Liverpool's struggles against Bolton prove they can't get into stride

If this wasn't a performance that reflects Rodgers's approach as a manager, Liverpool find themselves in a spell that pretty much reflects their season. This was a flatter display after the dynamism of the midweek 1-1 draw with Chelsea, and the deeper consequence beyond having to endure a replay at the Reebok Stadium is that they still can't get into anything like a stride.

There's no consistency or momentum to what Liverpool are doing right now; every positive step immediately seems to be followed by one that throws up a few more questions.

Of course, out of all that, there is one big question: how would their play and their season look if star striker Daniel Sturridge were fit? They badly lack his finishing ability as he's been out since Aug. 31, which is placing such an onus on Sterling.

Even here, although Liverpool weren't quite swarming through and around Bolton in the way they did to Chelsea, they did create the pressure that could really have done with someone more prolific than Borini there to finish. It was often as if they were good enough to get the ball up to a certain area around the Bolton box but just lacked the penetration and decisiveness to do anything thereafter.

It didn't help that Bogdan was having such a good match, but this was still an off day for Liverpool.

3. Lennon continues his history against big teams

Bolton Wanderers continue their surge under new manager Lennon, who joined the club last October and has only three losses out of 17 matches so far, with a performance that recalled some old managerial heroics.

Lennon has a history of successfully bridging the quality gap between superior sides and his own. This is the man that masterminded Celtic's brilliant 2-1 Champions League group stage win over Barcelona in 2012, after all, and it isn't the only game in which he got his team to perform at higher levels.

The most impressive aspect of his approach to such matches is that his sides don't just sit and hope for the best. By contrast, Lennon takes calculated gambles, and Bolton Wanderers were exactly the same here. They were brave enough to defend from the front, and press Liverpool high, while also creating a decent amount of danger especially when striker Eidur Gudjohnsen shot wide from a fine second chance in the 62nd minute. He had much more of an influence on the game than fellow striker Emile Heskey had in his return to Anfield (Heskey played for Liverpool between 2000-04).

The risk was that they endured a few moments of danger of their own, as they left an awful lot of space in behind. That in turn left Bogdan with a lot of work to do, but he pulled off a series of fine saves. His stop on Borini midway through the second half was especially brilliant and he showed superb bravery in a one-on-one with Sterling.

While Bolton obviously didn't set out to just sit back and hope for an upset, it would be wrong to say there weren't huge elements of fortune too.

As mentioned earlier, Manquillo was responsible for an awful miss, and referee Friend responsible for some questionable decisions. Liverpool should have had at least a penalty, which if converted would've broken the deadlock.

Instead, the referee got it wrong, and that may have been responsible for this fine Bolton result. Still, the point remains that Lennon's set-up ensured it came down to such differences.

He, by contrast, got it spot on.