Bolton Win Away
Nigh on 1000 days, 37 games, probably a few thousand miles, probably about £700 per person in terms of match tickets, god only knows how much alcohol to soften the blow, but yesterday Bolton ended 2017 by finally breaking that Championship away hoodoo, at Bramall Lane against high-flying Sheffield United.
Phil Parkinson rang the changes, he must have been factoring in the short turnaround between this game and tomorrow`s home fixture against Hull. There was a change in formation, back to the 3-5-2 which took us up but was less effective in the opening weeks of this season, and a return from the cold for Adam Le Fondre, of who while his commitment was undeniable probably didn`t have a very effective game. Most of the spine were retained, including Le Fondre`s strike partner, a certain Gary Madine. With something to prove after all that happened in last season`s fixture, Madine was up for this, and goaded the locals getting off the bus with hand over ear gesture. He had to back that up on the pitch and duly did.
Even up until the goal, we started very well. It was entirely predictable, but it was working, to the point is obviously wound up Chris Wilder and the natives, and it was entirely deserved when Antonee Robinson, a change enforced rather than tactical, but in a perfect ball for Madine to turn in, in front of the Kop.
From there on in, Sheffield United did improve. In the last five minutes of the half, Ben Alnwick had to make a save, and he would go on in the second half to make some more. We rode our luck in the second half, and I hear a few comparisons with the Fulham game, but we seemed a bit better at being able to do something with the ball, and get it down the other end. Leon Clarke also missed a huge chance at the end, but we held on.
Annoyingly, it was a day where Sunderland and Birmingham decided they would pull wins out of the bag too, but there is now a six-team scrap at the bottom, with four points separating them all. We play one of those tomorrow in Hull. A win would mean nine points from 12 over the festive period and we could be as high as 19th. That would look a lot better.