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Man of the Match v Brighton & Hove Albion: Zat Knight

Paul Thomas

No one can say that Bolton's 1-0 win at home against an on-form Brighton and Hove Albion side wasn't a hard-fought one. The Trotters did not have the majority of the possession, weathering a lot of corners from Brighton and even more shots. When all was said and done, Brighton had earned 14 corners (all put behind while under high pressure or deflected from shots) and had taken 21 shots, 12 of which was on target (many of the remaining nine were not far off target).

The difference between the two sides was Marcos Alonso's excellent strike from the left corner at the edge of the area. If you're going by the "goals win games" mantra, the Man of the Match would be Alonso's right off the bat. That isn't how we do things though and we have to take Marcos Alonso's defensive performance into account here. In short, it wasn't good. Between Alonso and Ricketts, Brighton had free reign of the wings and put the crosses in accordingly.

On a brighter note, Darren Pratley deserves a mention as well thanks to his tireless running and willingness to go into the tackle to win the ball. The latter point was evidenced by his foul count, a close second to Jay Spearing's 11 on the day. Had Pratley scored or created a goal, he probably would have been a sure thing for the award but unfortunately for him, his chances on the edge of the area came to nothing.

Andy Lonergan was solid in goal again, having to make two big stops. His day was a relatively easy one though, especially when you take into consideration just how often Brighton were getting forward. Many of their shots were just off target or right at Lonergan and, when forced into a save late on, he spilled the ball, nearly allowing the forward to nip in for a timely equalizer.

Our Man of the Match against Brighton was one of two players who were solid throughout the whole day. Both Jay Spearing and Zat Knight were rocks in defense. Spearing came close to doubling Bolton's advantage but his shot was stopped just ahead of the goal line. He had the majority of Bolton's fouls and, as a result, offered Brighton a number of dangerous free kicks.

The man who is getting our £5 bottle of slightly chilled champagne is Zat Knight. The big defender, who was often bemoaned last season, has been a revelation this year. Of the 37 games that Botlon have played this year, Knight has played 34 (one shy of team leader Adam Bogdan and the most of any outfield player) and he has gone the full 90 minutes in all of those. It is also thanks to Craig Dawson, who has been a major calming force for Bolton's defense, that Knight has shined.

Against Brighton & Hove Albion, he was dominant in the air and good in the tackle. It was largely thanks to Knight that Brighton could not do anything with. As a result, he is the Lion of Vienna Suite's Man of the Match