Bolton Start The New Year Right
Bolton got 2018 off to a great start with a narrow win over Hull City. It was a crunch game to get the new calendar year underway. A game against fellow strugglers, with the chance to make some serious progress up the table with a win, or potentially be bottom after the full set of fixtures were played.
In the end Gary Madine stepped up once again. Wanderers went back to the 4-2-3-1 formation that they have been using, but not when they beat Sheffield United on Saturday. David Wheater was rested, but aside from that it was as strong as you could go.
When Bolton got a free kick in the 20th minute, there was some disbelief when Gary Madine was lining up to take it.
After all, he tried to emulate Ronaldo not once, but twice, against Burton and it didn`t work. But this is a man with confidence at the moment, and everyone (including myself) was promptly shut up after he put it in the back of the net, giving Allan McGregor no chance.
In rancid weather conditions, it was Hull who had most of the ball and shots on target, but they struggled to properly get their game together, personified by one passage of play where Hull had put the passes together, before Michael Hector mislaid his pass from the back and it ran out of play.
Bolton had lost both of their holding midfielders in the first half-hour, with Karl Henry and Darren Pratley going off injured. We had struggled earlier in the season, when our midfield was so easy to play through, but we were much better today. Josh Cullen has had an opportunity of late and has repaid that with two strong performances, while Josh Vela was shuffled back into a deeper role after the substitutions and was excellent in what is arguably his most natural position.
The one goal advantage did ensure another nervy finish, and even though Hull nearly, and should have, turned one in at the back post late on, only to from what looked like my vantage point at the other end, looked like a hit post, Bolton held on and moved up to 20th in the league.