BWFC: All Those Little Things
If it was a game of chess, we lost a knight. If it was a game of tennis, we had our service broken. If it was a game of American Football, we fumbled in great field position. It was a blip, a blot, a hitch or any other one-syllable word you want to use for the defeat at Leicester.
Again, I won't focus entirely on the game of football we played at the King Power Stadium because you'll have already read umpteen match reports, all of them ending with the same result. I want to focus on the nitty-gritty. The things the independent reporters at the game don't feel or see. Things only fans can sense. The small victories... The little things.
Bolton Wanders lost a game of football away from home which they could easily have won. That's been the story of our season and nothing new. This was different, however.
The other capitulations away from the Reebok this season have been warranted, self destructions with little-to-no fight for redemption. This one saw Bolton Wanderers fighting to the death for something they believed they deserved. Yes, you could say the quick-fire double from Leicester at the end of the first period was a self-destruction of sorts, but the response from the Whites was superb. Craig Davies struck fear into the Leicester defence and we even saw a cameo from Tom Eaves. Bolton should have come away with at least a point for their efforts. Davies smashed one against the bar and Schmeichel made 2 world-class saves to deny Pratley and Alonso. We lost a game of football but I witnessed a fight and spirit long missing from the Whites' performances for several seasons. It was Leicester's night...nothing more. A win for Leicester, a small victory for us. A little thing...
Yet again, the results from other significant fixtures went in favour of the Whites. Brighton drew at Posh picking up a solitary point and Palace & Forest lost again. I'm sure most Bolton supporters are looking up enviously at the teams above in the league table. Brighton sit on 66 points, Leicester leap-frogged us on 64 points and Crystal Palace have a game-in-hand to go with their 66 point tally. Hustling for a play-off spot at the right end of the league table is a situation Bolton haven't been involved with for over a decade. Unfortunately, for several seasons during their Premiership stay, Wanderers became more accustomed to the infamous relegation dogfight. You may then think that the 'points in the bag' are what matters at this stage of the season. In a relegation battle, that's correct; they're priceless. In the battle for promotion, however, they're either a target on your back, like a bulls-eye to aim for, or, in Palace's situation... Well, let me put this to you: Would you rather have 63 points where you have won 7of the last 10 games making you one of the form teams in the league, or would you have 66 points and failed to score a single goal in the last 5 games, picking up 1 point out of the last 15? Maybe you're bagging the points and maybe you're correct to do so. What I do know for sure is, however, Crystal Palace supporters with 66 points and sitting 5th will be a lot more nervous than the Bolton fans sitting 7th. A little thing...
Alert for all you pessimistic, glass-half-empty supporters who read the site. I may be crazy and losing the plot after constantly seeing light where there is obvious darkness, but I'm going to find optimism in injury. There's no doubt the loss of Jay Spearing is a major blow to our hopes of a play-off spot. He's been a constant in a season of fluctuation. David Ngog, however, is as divisive as the late Maggie Thatcher. Dropping someone with the skill and intangibles of Ngog from the line-up must be almost impossible for Dougie to do, especially for a Championship club, regardless of his goals-per-game ratio. Now the decision has been made for him and it may work in his and our favour. Hear me out. With Ngog out for the season, Mr Freedman will have no choice but to play the more prolific of his striking contingent. I don't know whether Marvin Sordell, Craig Davies and Tom Eaves have the goals in them collectively to fire us into the play-offs, but I do know they are out-and-out strikers who think goals...nothing else. Tom Eaves is undoubtedly going to get more playing time with Ngog out of the picture. Can you imagine the lift it would give him, the team and the fans if he scores the winner at the Reebok against 'Boro? A little thing...?
Tuesday 16th April was a day we lost a game of football. It was also a day where Bolton fans should find a number of positives from the rubble. I'm sure supporters will see different pictures and shapes from that game we lost, proving football is subjective. The fact is, however, Bolton are still very much in the hunt for a top-six finish and showing no signs of doubt. They should also be aggrieved in defeat, they should be buoyed by the unified support they are getting from the terraces and also find undoubted positives from seemingly barren situations.
I'm finding solace in the detail... All those little things..