Bolton fans have a long history of blaming Mike Dean for everything from Kevin Davies' lack of goals to global warming and fluoride in their drinking water.
In the first half of today's match, they may have had a point. Both Lee Chong-yung and Johann Elmander were brought down in the box. Neither is a player known for going down easily. The first penalty claim, involving Lee and Stephen Warnock, was debatable. It looked quite obvious that Warnock brought the Korean winger down, but Lee's touch had been heavy. You could argue that he had lost possession and was not going to get to the ball either way. I am not saying I agree with this argument, but it can reasonably be made.
The second one seemed a blatant penalty though. Elmander, after a marauding 70-yard run, got goal side of Richard Dunne. Dunne dived in and took Elmander out with a swift kick to the shin. No penalty. Now, Aston Villa supporters will argue they were also victim to some Dean gaffes. Zat Knight, already on a yellow, was involved a in wrestling match with Gabriel Agbonlahor, who had a clear path to goal if he beat the big man. Both went down, and Dean gave Bolton a free kick. But the Wanderers could have easily been down to 10 men for the third consecutive match. All things considered, 1-1 was probably a fair half-time score.
The second half, in all honest impartiality, was dominated by Bolton. They had more of the ball, they created more chances, and they just looked a bigger threat in general. Stuart Holden in particular shaved the post a few times and really deserved a goal today. Wanderers are still looking for consistency though. A very good sixty minutes against Arsenal was followed by a bad thirty minutes. A horrible ten minutes against Birmingham was followed by a good eighty minutes. Owen Coyle needs to figure out how to get ninety minutes out of this squad. Otherwise, we are never going to start turning some of these draws into wins.
Bolton have still lost only once all season, and when your only blemish is at the Emirates to an in-form Arsenal, there is no shame. And to be fair, before the match I think most of us would have taken a point away against Aston Villa, so in that way it was a good result. However, on the blance of play, you would have to say Bolton dropped two points today.