Bolton Wanderers losing to a side that is worse than them on paper should not be a feeling that fans are used to but once again, that was what was on the cards for Bolton Wanderers. A dire performance put a spotlight on issues that Bolton have consistently had in Stuart Holden's absence. After leading for the majority of the match, Bolton Wanderers were dumped out of the Capital One Cup in second half stoppage time by Crawley Town.
Josh Vela was given his first Bolton start but his night came to an unfortunate end just seven minutes into the match. A challenge put in on Vela sent him to the ground clutching his knee and looking like he was in a world of pain. Vela was subbed off right away, with Darren Pratley coming on for him. It's a heartbreaking way for the youngster's debut to end. The injury seemed to send Bolton reeling and they were on the back foot for much of the match.
The breakthrough came 15 minutes later through Benik Afobe by way of Martin Petrov. The Bulgarian winger strode through the midfield before sending Afobe through and in on goal. The on-loan Arsenal striker drew out the Crawley goalkeeper before finishing a cool effort into the bottom corner from 12 yards out.
The match was a largely drab affair until the 83rd minute when freshly-introduced substitute Billy Clarke leveled the match with a curling effort to the far post. In a move the Bolton fans had seen time and time again, the defense backed off of Clarke and gave him more than enough space to pick his spot. Crawley nearly went ahead a minute or so later after Nicky Ajose's shot from Paul Jones' flick went just a foot wide. The winner, however, would come in stoppage time through Ajose. The forward rose highest to meet Billy Clarke's cross and put it past Andy Lonergan in goal.
The match exposed Bolton in the 4-4-2 formation once again. The men in white controlled the ball much better when playing in the 4-5-1 formation for nearly 70 minutes and maintained a 1-0 lead. It was after the introduction of Kevin Davies and the subsequent switch to a four-man-midfield that Bolton started really losing possession of the ball. The equalizer came from a lose ball in the center of the park.
The general mood on Twitter after the match (as it has been after so many matches lately) is an ever-growing dislike for Owen Coyle. While the League Cup was never going to be a major concern for this season, it will become very worrying if Bolton do not get the maximum three points from Hull City on Saturday.