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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers v. Derby County

Bolton Wanderers were slightly better in their entertaining 2-2 at home to high-flying Derby County. Bolton started brightly and Alex Baptiste opened the scoring with a pleasing on the eye individual effort. Derby responded with two Johnny Russell strikes. Bolton recovered and Chris Eagles leveled proceedings with a strike from distance.

It's a good job we came early ...
It's a good job we came early ...
Mark Thompson

These are five things we learnt from the Tuesday evening game with Derby County.

1. Attendances are dwindling .

A Tuesday night home game may not sound tempting for even the most die hard Bolton Wanderers fan but an attendance of 14,260 is particularly low, perhaps lower than any. Obviously we are not a Premier League force anymore and there was some stand-out UEFA Champions League fixtures last night, however, to give this figure some real context for you, Bolton Wanderers average attendance last season was 18,103, last nights figure was down 22% on even that lowly figure.

No one likes to see empty seats in a football stadium and it is an age old debate how to address, the key point here is that it does need urgently addressing. Take note, the Reebok Stadium was less then half full last night with a seat-taken percentage of 49.6%

2. Mills likes a diagonal, Bolton fans do not.

Former Reading captain Matt Mills had a very good game last night, looking very solid and showed a willingness to work and cover other defenders when out of position. There is one side to his game, however, that seemed to infuriate the Wanderers fans and that was his persistence to search out either Jermaine Beckford or the impressive on-rushing left-back Marc Tierney with a clipped long pass. To the eye, Mills seems rather good at them, quite accurate in fact, however, the usual intended target, Jermaine Beckford would appear to be not so good at receiving these passes, this should have been an indication to stop or at the very least, try something different.

3. Chris Eagles can not be deterred from shooting.

I am a particularly placid football fan, I try to not allow it to frustrate or anger me as the reason I go is to enjoy the football. Chris Eagles, however, infuriates me. Shot after endless shot. So often there is a ball available, particularly with Dougie Freedman persisting with his flying full-backs, yet Chris Eagles simply cannot help himself, every single pocket of space he finds must be converted into a shot on goal, an often wild over-hit shot at that. Against Derby County, it was Eagles who had contributed 10 of Bolton's 22 shots on the night, with only four of the team's total hitting the target.

I had spent half-an-hour convincing those around me in the Nat Lofthouse Stand the negative impact this had on our style of play and after all of that, the former Manchester United midfielder scores a belter from all of 25 yards.

4. We miss Kevin Davies.

Jermaine Beckford, for all his effort, simply cannot get the ball to stick up top to try and allow Bolton to take the game to the opposition quickly. I cannot think of a player more unsuited to the role of the lone striker than Jermaine Beckford. In fact, it is almost sad to watch. If Bolton are going to look for a more direct pass from the defensive line, as they did last night, then playing Beckford will continue to see possession submitted to the opposition as it was last night.  We do not seem to be short on big strikers yet I would not refer to any of them as a target man, aside maybe Tom Eaves, this a particularly difficult problem to solve for Freedman

5. Marc Tierney is up for the battle.

Tierney was more than ‘up for it' last night. The former Norwich City left-back put in another good performance last night, but what caught my eye the most was the determination he had to try and get Bolton out of the trouble they have found themselves in. His attitude was top notch and you can only hope it is infectious in the Wanderers dressing room as it is characters like that that can get you out of a rut. In addition to that, it was his long ball to the head of Chris Eagles that started the play for Bolton's opening goal.