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Man of the Match v Sunderland: Andy Lonergan

Bolton went up 2-0 in the FA Cup yesterday, but the Trotters couldn't hold on, and Sunderland managed to keep the tie alive with two impressive second half goals. Several fringe players got a chance for Bolton, and one of them is our MOTM.

Craig Gardner may have beat our MOTM, but it was only enough for a draw.
Craig Gardner may have beat our MOTM, but it was only enough for a draw.
Mark Thompson

Sometimes your best performer is not who you want it to be. If you run a large company, and your best employee is the security guard, that's a bad sign. If you make movies, and the guy you can always count on is the caterer, you have problems. It's the same with a football club. Of course you want a good goalkeeper, but if your keeper is consistently your best player, then you just don't have a very good team. We've addressed this in the past, specifically as it relates to Adam Bogdan, but the same applies to Andy Lonergan. We want our guy between the posts to be good, even great, but if he wins MOTM, particularly if he does it often, your club is in trouble.

Bolton's FA Cup match against Sunderland was the stereotypical "Game of two halves." Bolton were fairly dominant in the first half, although the Black Cats had more possession. The Wanderers doubled their lead just after halftime, and all looked well in Lancashire. But then things fell apart.

If we had given a MOTM after the first fifty minutes, it probably would have been the young (and controversial) Marvin Sordell. The Olympic striker took a page out of Captain Kevin Davies' book in helping to create the first goal. Sordell's pressure on Carlos Cuellar, in the shadow of his own corner flag, caused the defender to gift the ball to Chung-Yong Lee, who easily finished into a wide open net. We've seen Davies do this many times (I suspect most of us enjoyed it best when Ashley Cole was the victim). Then, just to show definitively that he has been paying attention to the skipper in training, Sordell won a header on the second ball off a corner, and put Bolton up 2-0. It wasn't long before Davies replaced his young protege, and judging by the celebration after his goal, the whole team was thrilled for Marvin.

Lee also had a good first half, putting lots of pressure on Sunderland's back line and scoring a goal for good measure. He, like the rest of the squad, was far less effective after halftime.

Another darkhorse candidate, Marcos Alonso. The young Spaniard gets better in every match he plays. We all know his defending still needs to improve, but you can tell he is working on it. As predicted a couple of weeks ago, Alonso's play since Stephen Warnock's departure has greatly reduced Aston Villa's leverage in holding us to ransom, and Dougie Freedman has turned his sights to other targets in the transfer market.

All that said, it would be very difficult to name anyone but Andy Lonergan Man of the Match. He commanded his area well, made several good saves, and one fantastic stop on a near-range header. He'll get another opportunity in the replay. And if he performs as well at the Stadium of Light? Well, Adam Bogdan may just start having to worry a bit.