Bournemouth, 3 Points and a Clean Sheet For Bolton Wanderers

Michael Steele

Very occasional guest contributor Michael Murray looks back on the weekend visit to the South Coast.

Another win on the road, unbeaten in six, back to back away wins, a clean sheet, eight points from the last twelve available, all little nuggets which suggest that Bolton fans can approach the rest of November with a veil of optimism.

On the flip side, we are still searching for a first home win of the season and we have a couple of tough away trips after the pointless international break, with visits to both Watford and Middlesbrough. It means that three points against ‘Facking Millwall' on Saturday are imperative. Simply avoiding defeat will not be good enough; taking nothing at all from the game is absolutely unthinkable.

Anyway, that is a worry for later in the week and it is time to reflect on a superb victory for substance over style at Dean Court, the ground formerly known as Dean Court or whatever name the place goes under these days.

After a drive down to the South Coast which felt like it took an absolute eternity, but did take in the delights of majestic Marlborough, the supreme Salisbury Cathedral and erm, the dual carriageway around Swindon, many supporters would be forgiven for feeling less than optimistic; a long journey to play a team who, on paper you should beat eleven times out of ten. It is these sort of trips which usually spell defeat for the Whites.

This time, however, things were very different.. The Wanderers went in to the match with an obvious game plan, to be compact, tight, not give Bournemouth any room to play whilst looking to hit them on the counter. It was not a pretty game to watch but it was effective and the XI on the field executed the game plan to perfection.

Defensively we looked solid. Matt Mills and Tim Ream, two players I would have happily given a lift to sign for another club during the summer were, again, excellent. They look like they have been putting the work in off the field to formulate an understanding and have both been working on their perceived weaknesses. Alex Baptiste, who is acquitting himself very well as a makeshift left back, and Kevin McNaughton, who adds organisational experience to the back line, give us a presence we have lacked for the majority of the season. Bolton currently have the makings of a very miserly defensive unit.

Jermaine Beckford was getting a bit of stick from the stands for not running around like a headless chicken, chasing everything down but instead taking the ‘lazy' option of standing on the half way line with his hands on his hips whenever Bournemouth had the ball. I am now convinced this was under instruction from Dougie Freedman. It meant that in most cases we kept at least one man ahead of the ball whenever Bournemouth were in possession and with Beckford's pace, meant that they could not over commit when attacking for fear of him having a clear run on goal.

This ploy also meant that when we reached the final twenty minutes, rather than having a centre forward who was blowing out of his arse, we had one who was still relatively fresh, running at tired defenders and this ultimately resulted in the second goal. Jermaine does need to work on his knee slides though, a shocking effort!

So, all in all, a resolute, disciplined, determined performance by the Whites, backed by a superb travelling support of nearly a thousand. Yes, we would like to see a high tempo, high intensity passing game but given how heavy the pitch looked and how strong the wind was on the South Coast, it was a thoroughly professional job by a team, the majority of whom looked like they care, which for me restores a modicum of faith in some of the group.

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