Bolton Wanderers: Boo
21 August 2012, 20:00
I would like to start this article by thanking my wife. Mrs X doesn't get enough mentions on this site and so I think this is a fantastic opportunity to thank her for convincing me to change my usual bet and stick it on a 2-1 win, rather than 2-0. This was based on the fact that we never keep a clean sheet and that our defence was leakier than Poseidon. As she is usually right (and not just about football) I took her advice. Which just goes to prove that you wife can, sometimes, be wrong.
It was an interesting night last night. First of all I discovered that the match tickets hadn't been delivered to Mrs X Snr's, meaning a dash to the ground and then a fifteen minutes queue to collect them. With the massive gaps all over the ground, it was surprising to see that so many people had elected this form of getting their ticket. Maybe there can be a queue for those of us who have ordered but haven't had their tickets sent, as was the case when I finally got to the window inside Bolton Central. I returned to find Mrs X Snr starting to give a member of the Greater Manchester Police a missing persons report.
There had been oohs and aaahs a couple of times inside the ground and, once sat down, what followed can only be described as the most turgid half of football for a long time. Tactics began and ended at the feet of Adam Bogdan, forever banging it long to the head of SKD who would either lose it or head it into space ahead of him, despite being the most forward player. Both midfields seemed intent on losing the ball meaning that both defences had to stand tall. For once, Bolton's did, although Tyrone Mears seemed to be suffering from the culture shock of having to play two former teams within three days of each other, as he was bypassed time and again. At times, Bolton's best defender was Mark Davies, who put in two crucial blocks just as Derby were looking to profit on the left. What he was doing there is another story.
There were chances, the best falling to Marvin Sordell, but when the half time whistle went, the team left to some boos.
Oh, yes. The boos. What had been served up may well have been poor fare, but booing your own team off at half time when they are drawing. What kind of atttitude is that? I can understand the feeling, I didn't like what I saw, but I just don't understand the mentality of it. What does it say to the players? I think they'd already know that the way that they had played wasn't up to standard. Derby were worse, but their fans applauded them off the pitch. Those who booed our players off shouldn't really call themselves fans.
Super John McGinlay did the half time draw, getting a good reception, and made you wonder if, although he's carrying a lot more timber than he was twenty years ago, there was a chance of him strapping his boots on for a fifteen minute cameo.
Although nothing was working, OC decided to make no changes at half time. Watching the subs on the pitch in the interval, they all seemed to be doing their own individual thing, rather than keeping warm as a team. Both Pratley and Petrov probably did more running up and down the sideline in the second half than they normally do in a match.
The second half was pretty much a carbon copy of the first, excepting a goal from Derby that was ruled out for pushing by Craig Pawson, who gave Championship referees a bad name.
This all changed on the hour, although the change envisaged by some in the crowd did not occur as Benik Afobe came on for his second Wanderers game in place of Marvin Sordell. Many around me, myself included, had expected to see SKD brought off as all he had done at that time was head the ball nowhere. However, the introduction of Afobe seemed to galvanise the captain, as he held the bell up better, laid it off to the wings for some penetrating crosses and found Afobe with some good balls. Afobe himself should really have got off his Bolton mark with a point blank shot that allowed Frank Fielding to make a sprawling save. Bolton's tails were up.
It took nearly twenty more minutes to open the scoring, however. A number of corners had been dealt with by the Derby defence, barring a Matt Mills header over the bar, when another Chris Eagles corner found SKD's head. His header was parried back straight at him by Fielding and has second attempt was an unstoppable rocket into the roof of the net.
Derby came on strong but found a Bolton defence resolute in not losing their clean sheet, Zat Knight especially not allowing anyone to pass. The one time they did, however, Adam Bogdan was lucky to see the post save him.
Shortly after, the game was put beyond doubt when Chris Eagles muscled his way through the defence to place a short beyind Fielding. The final whistle, surprisingly enough, brought no boos.
No one is going to say that this swallow makes a spring. The first half was so dire, Mrs X Snr started telling me about her latest poker game. We could have started a new one to be fair. There was still no sense of urgency until the introduction of Afobe, which makes you wonder just why he didn't start, after playing well enough at Burnley.
It was with SKD at Tranmere that Afobe scored his hat trick and he seems to have that knack of knowing where SKD is going to put the ball. I believe they call that anticipation and whilst I am as much in favour of playing the ball along the floor more, especially in this division, if our most potent strike force is SKD and Afobe, I'm not going to grumble.
Derby were desperately poor, there is no getting away from that, and the team is going to have to perform better against better opposition. But three points are on the board and we may have just found a way to score goals. They now have to push on.
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