THEY may have missed out on the chance to move into second place in the table but Bolton head coach Dave Crouch is staying philosophical after his side’s defeat at struggling Burnley.

Bolton headed north for Saturday’s game missing half a team’s-worth of players and, although they collected two bonus points from a 27-22 defeat, he feels it could, and perhaps should, have been more.

Had the match official awarded a penalty try Crouch feels should have been given at the third collapsing of a close-range scrum, the Cherry and Whites could have been hot on the heels of North Lancs/Cumbria division leaders Keswick.

“We had three scrums in a row awarded after penalties five metres from their line and I definitely feel we should have had a penalty try awarded,” Crouch said. “The referee just wasn’t for giving it though.

“Burnley collapsed the scrum three times when they were being pushed back but, for whatever reason, we didn’t get the decision.

“It was always going to be a difficult day up there, given our absences, so with all the changes we had to make and the weather not being very helpful, to put it mildly, it was a very tough day.

“I must say what great support we had, there are people who are always giving us their backing, in whatever weather, especially Compost Corner, a group of ex-players that add a bit of colour to the games. It’s a shame we couldn’t reward their support with a win.

“We scored four tries to get two bonus points but while Burnley scored some good tries themselves we had chances to win but we couldn’t put them away.”

Bolton trailed their hosts 19-5 at half-time, prop Chris Mee having claimed their only score of the first 40 minutes.

And although they were close to pulling off an excellent turnaround after the break, with Rhys Pritchard, Jonny Stanfield and Danny Joseph touching down, they suffered a second straight narrow defeat.

As they return to Avenue Street this Saturday, to host third-bottom Eccles, Crouch hopes to welcome back a handful of the club’s big-hitters.

“We had a good training session this week, we worked on a few things that went wrong at Burnley and we’ll be changing the side again,” he said. “But that’s so we can bring back James Singleton, Manny Tailor, Gaz Pritchard and Andy Wood.

“One player who has earned his place is Alex Charnock, he’s a former Colts player who did really well at Burnley and he’ll keep his place.

“He works really hard, is aggressive and tackles well. He’s only slight for a second-row but his improvement has been phenomenal, we’re really pleased with him.

“Eccles are struggling, they’ve lost a few players but it’s going to be tough. This league is really strange, teams are losing games they shouldn’t do, us included.

“It’s still very tight and we’re up there so I can’t complain overall.”