Isn't that a great feeling? Seeing Bolton Wanderers being bloody excellent for a change! Because they were, they really were. They dominated for the vast majority of the match, attacking in style with skill and moving the ball along the floor and when pressure grew, they defended with grit and determination. The best performance to grace The Macron turf in some time. How did those beautiful bastards in white play? I hear you ask. Well, read on and see how I rated them:
Andy Lonergan - 8
Lonergan continued his fine run of form in between the sticks with yet another impressive display. Whilst I still hold the belief that Bogdan is the better 'keeper, Lonergan is by no means doing his own claim to the #1 spot any harm. He made a string of difficult saves as he kept Brentford at bay when they had their brief moments of pressure, and there was not much he could have done with Toral's strike. It was Longergan's quick thinking and brilliantly calculated throw that set up the final goal which secured the points.
Kevin McNaughton - 7
There's not much really to say about McNaughton that I haven't said at least ten times. He was extremely solid, yet again, with very little danger occurring as a result of him. He doesn't offer much in terms of an attacking force, but due to his quality, Danns didn't need to think too much about helping him out, leaving him free to attack or tuck inside when we were off the ball.
Matt Mills - 8
Mills was an absolute colossus in defence, cutting out so many dangerous crosses with vital flicks of his head or flings of his legs. He was again a threat from set pieces and his partnership with Dervite is really beginning to blossom. He had a very shaky start to his time at the club, but has now grown to be one of our most important and consistent players this season. He didn't half get a bollocking or two off Lennon though, as the manager was lamenting him every time he hit one if his trademarked long diagonals. And thank god for that. It must be a hard habit to break out of, but I think with the help of Lennon and co, we may finally see the end of those (mostly) horrendous long balls. Hurrah!
Dorian Dervite - 7
Dori, I call him Dori, is quickly becoming my (second) favourite player at the club. He's excellent, and he displayed as much with another fine performance, one in which his strength was a pivotal part. A lot of Dervite's defending on Saturday was all about getting himself in between the ball and the attacker, and seeing them off until the ball was safe. I remember two moments in which he held of the striker with ease and allowed Lonergan to come and collect the ball, moments in the game when Bolton were on the back foot. Of course, he was pretty good in the other aspects of his game too, especially in coming over to help out Ream when he found himself in a bit of bother. I've mentioned it before, but I also love his body language after whenever we concede. This time he was pounding the floor in anger, so annoyed at that we'd conceded.
Tim Ream - 6
Making his first start under the new manager, Ream looked a little uncomfortable with the defensive side of the game. He was up against a very fast opponent in Moses Odubajo, who had the beating of Ream on several occasions. Tim also horrendously miss timed his jump for Brentford's goal, allowing the ball to sail over his head and land at the feet of the goal scorer. On the other hand, his attacking work was as good as ever, with yet more intelligent passing. He even knocked up an assist for the opener.
Jay Spearing - 7
Despite the fact Spearing did lose the ball which led to the Brentford goal, I thought he had another very good game, as he continues to improve post-Freedman. For the most part, he just sat in front of the defence, protecting the backline with constant pressure on opposing players and spraying the ball about much like he did in his first season here. He did however embark on a few adventures to the final quarter of the pitch, one of which resulted in him crafting a good opportunity for himself, which he hit the side netting with. Does this continued rise in form signal a return of the Spearing we first signed on loan from Liverpool and wanted so desperately to return? If so, then I'm excited.
Neil Danns - 6
I thought Danns had a good game, he fits in really well to Lennon's new system, he's benefited massively from being played in a more central position and, as ever, his work rate was second to none. I just feel his end product was mostly a bit weak today. Obviously, he scored an absolute blinder that freed the rest of the team of the shackles of worry, but for the most part his crosses and shots were quite tame. Regardless, Danns has improved massively since Lennon came in and he's finally started to combine his skill and work rate together to become a well oiled cog in the Bolton midfield.
Darren Pratley - 5
Pratley wasn't too bad on the left. He worked hard and rarely lost the ball, keeping the play moving with short, quick passes. However, he really lacks any form of distinct quality, the difference being tangible once M Davies was introduced in his place, and he really does give away far too many needless free kicks. He tries hard, no dispute, and he fits in well to Lennon's current system, but I feel he'll be one of the first Lennon replaces when he gets the chance.
Chung-Yong Lee - 8
Why on Earth has it taken this long to move Lee into the centre?!? Because Chungy looks at home there. He doesn't have to worry about tracking back to help his fullback, he can fully concentrate on influencing the game from the middle of play, which he did to great affect against Brentford. His passing was articulate, his skill was delicate and he never gave up on a dead ball, which resulted in a number of chances. Lennon has come in and immediately spotted where Lee should play, after three managers before hand didn't. It may well result in wonderful things.
Jermaine Beckford - 5
Although Beckford's work rate was impeccable, he really does lack that decisive quality that we so desperately need upfront. He looks like a striker who no longer has the confidence in himself to hit a shot first time, as he was so often ponderous in the box, when the Beckford of Leeds United wouldn't have hesitated to smash it into the back of the net. Hopefully he can rekindle that confidence, because his work rate deserves it. His link up play was also rather poor on Saturday, on many occasions his lay offs were too weak and led to us losing possession.
Joe Mason - 6
Much like his strike partner, Mason was also extremely hard working through out the game, at one point he ran onto his own flick on to keep a move alive; and, just like his strike partner, he also lacked composure in front of goal, epitomised when he ran through, just after we'd conceded, and hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper. Unlike Beckford, however, I thought that Mason did a lot more with the ball: he displayed some excellent touches in the box to hold the play up, won a lot of flick ons and linked quite well with Lee, he also made some smart runs. He just really needs to add that finishing touch to his game to really kick on as a quality striker.
Both Mason and Beckford could really do with watching their line more too, they were both caught off-side far too much.
Mark Davies - 8
If Mark Davies could just stay fit he'd be one of the best creative players in the league. His goal was exquisite and it's such a joy seeming him recreate the type of moves he showed during his Premier League days. I have a good feeling, that just like with Lee, Lennon will bring the best out of Davies and we'll finally see him become the player he has the untold amount of potential to become. If he stays fit.
Craig Davies - 8
We all know the type of player Craig Davies is, he's the striker who's going to throw his weight around to keep hold of the ball. I imagine those were the instructions given to him when he was about to come on: hold up the ball. He achieved that and then some. He lead the line mostly on his own in the final minutes, closing down and rushing defenders when they had the ball and holding it up when he had it, showing pretty dogged determination to keep the ball in the corner with about seventy-six Brentford players on his arse too. Of course, he also secured the points in the final minutes, showing cool composure to slot the ball into an empty net from forty yards.
Josh Vela - N/A
The young Bolton Wanderers midfielder made his long awaited return to the Bolton first team, when Lennon brought him on in the final minute of the game. It was a very canny move from Lennon, bringing him on with the game already secured. It signals his intent to eventually integrate some youngsters into the first team, which doesn't half get the fans on side, as if they weren't already, displayed perfectly by the massive cheer Vela received when he stepped over the white line.