After spending most of Saturday in the land of the pies (Wigan) before heading to the Macron stadium, it was perhaps fitting I was served a big slice of humble pie Saturday afternoon.
As you’ll see from the Vlog (video below) I was quite optimistic when I woke up Saturday morning. With a spell of great great results for us coinciding with an run of bad form for them, it felt like a great chance to go away and get some points from the biggest team in the league.
On reflection the need for them to come out fighting was always going to prove a huge challenge. But on four minutes the Turkish Messi did what he does best and produced a bit of magic; lifting the ball over the back peddling Bolton keeper from 40 odd yards on the bounce. From there it was all downhill. I’m struggling to recall if we had another shot in the first half, but the goal woke Bolton up, and the rest is history…
Bolton pulled one back with a header from Gary Madine who had been getting his head to everything up to that point- barely holding onto our lead for 10 minutes, it felt almost inevitable that we would collapse after that hit the back of the net.
All of a sudden our paces were wayward, our new 3-5-2 that had had looked so good the last 6 games suddenly lost all it’s shape, and as O’Connors attempted clearance spooned into the back of his own net, the the task became that much harder.
All credit to Liam Trotter for his finish 5 minutes later to put the tie to bed, but somehow the referee and linesman combined missed a quite blatant handball in the buildup – having watched the replay back I’m still convinced it should not have stood.
With a two goal cushion going into the second half, all Bolton needed to do was see the half out, they did so with consummate ease. It could have been much different if in the first few moments of the second half Bakayoko had kept some more composure. A seemingly innocuous back-pass to the Bolton keeper materialised into a golden opportunity as Alnwick slipped over, presenting Baka’ with the chance to create an opening.
Rather than pulling it back to the on rushing Oztumer, the young striker showed his naivety by going for goal himself from a tight angle, slicing the ball wide in an episode that summed up his afternoon -one of the worst performances I’ve seen from him this season, dont’t be surprised if we see him on the bench for this evening’s trip to Scunthorpe.
Then with 20 minutes left Flo had a shot cleared off the line; at the time I celebrated as if it had crossed the line (Saddlers tinted glasses)- but having watched it back it was very hard to tell… The pass across to him gave him a bit too much work to do- played behind him not giving him the chance to hit it first time again summed up our game really.
We’ll draw it up as a bad day at the office, no stand-out performances from any of the men in red for me and a fair few who didn’t seem to turn up. A great goal from Bolton’s Long capped off an emphatic win for the Wanderers, who on balance deserved all three points.