Man of the Match v. Crystal Palace: Tyrone Mears

Michael Steele

A scoreless draw away from home at a team flying high in the Championship table is a result that many, if not most, Bolton fans would have taken at the start of the day. While Bolton wanderers were, for the most part, toothless in the attack, the defense put in quite a shift at Selhurst Park. The Trotters have been damn near god-awful away from the Reebok Stadium this season and this run-out was nice to see. At the end of the day, Bolton had two clean sheets from two away matches in a row. The last time that happened? 16 & 20 February, 2011 when Bolton kept Wigan and Fulham scoreless away from the Reebok in the 4th and 5th rounds of the FA Cup.

On the offensive end, Chris Eagles and Chung-Yong Lee both caused trouble for the Palace defense with Eagles' having the closest of Bolton's efforts on the day. Chungy often burst into the box but unfortunately could not trouble Julian Speroni. Kevin Davies had a pretty good day at the office as he dominated the Eagles' defense in the air but unfortunately for him and Bolton, there was no one running onto the balls he flicked on and knocked down.

On the defensive end is where we have to sing the plaudits. Three Trotters in particular deserve special mention: Marcos Alonso, Tyrone Mears, and Tim Ream. The fullbacks were certainly the busier ones as they had to deal with Yannick Bolasie and Wilfred Zaha attacking the area pretty much relentlessly as well as having to cope with the likes of Glenn Murray pushing wide as well. Ream was by no means quiet as he cleaned up so many of the messes that Zat Knight and Jay Spearing (who had arguably his worst game in a Bolton shirt) created. For Ream, it was safety first and when all was said and done, Bolton earned a vital point.

The man of the match for us though had to be Tyrone Mears.

Mears has, for whatever reason, earned a reputation of being "crap" among the terrace managers. Many are adamant about seeing Sam Ricketts start in his place but the reasoning is largely unfounded, as was proved today. On top of keeping the Palace attackers from his wing as well as covering the center of the park, Mears offered a lot going forward as per usual. One of Bolton's best chances early on came from a missed Darren Pratley header with the central midfielder diving in after being unmarked but with the ball eventually going wide. The chance was created after Chris Eagles released Tyrone Mears on the right flank with the defender bursting forward and putting a perfect ball into the box.

Tyrone Mears has put these performances in more than once this season and for those not wearing blinders, it's easy to see why he's been nearly ever-present in the Bolton defense. The fact that those around him weren't helping for so much of the season didn't help his cause. Yet, with Bolton allowing just one goal in their last three games (in all competitions) and four goals in their last five, they look to finally be kicking on defensively.

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