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Debutante: How Did Jay Spearing Do?

Saturday was not only the return of a new campaign to the Reebok Stadium, where Bolton Wanderers were so strong in the latter stages of last season. It also saw the return, or second debut, of fan favourite Jay Spearing who is now a permanent fixtures of the Wanderers squad after arriving for an undisclosed fee last week.

Chris Brunskill

Jay Spearing, to loud cheers from the Wanderers fans, was thrust straight into the action and was handed a starting berth in the place of Ireland International Keith Andrews who had been sent out on loan to promotion rivals Brighton & Hove Albion. It was a deal which appears to have financially facilitated the move for Spearing. The former Liverpool midfielder did not waste much time before getting stuck in early on, the tenacity which had endeared him to the fans was there for all to see and he held no punches whatsoever in getting into it with the Reading midfield.

It was no easy task in the middle of the park as Spearing was pitted against Reading's enigmatic and equally dramatic Dutch playmaker, Royston Drenthe, with the Bolton man getting the better of the early exchanges. This continued until the half way point. This must have been spotted by Reading Manager, Nigel Adkins, as the second half saw Drenthe deployed in a very different role, operating more from either wing, looking to come inside from there to affect the game, the former Real Madrid star did this to great effect, leaving Spearing and his midfield counterparts, Medo Kamara & Darren Pratley, with no answer to this.

In possession, Spearing was very tidy, acting as a pivot around 20 yards into the opposition's half, a role many criticised Keith Andrews performing. The effects that Jay Spearing was significantly more accurate (88% accuracy to Andrews' 63%) in passing was clear to the eye. The former Liverpool man also frequently looked to bring the full-backs into the attack. This was particularly the case for Marc Tierney, who himself played a cross of the highest quality for the Wanderers' opener.

The statistic of only 40% possession in a home fixture is a concern for me, there was a case that Spearing and Pratley were not particularly in sync in terms of when to push the ball forward or when maintain possession was much more suitable, this in my opinion, served to isolate Beckford as there was no fluid build up play for him to read and become involved in.

Saturday against Reading was what we all wanted to see from Jay Spearing: a full-bloodied, committed, performance. He embodies the values many feel are what makes Bolton Wanderers the club that it is. As long as Jay Spearing is in our midfield, we are up for the battle.