The chill of the night, the glare of the floodlights on the fluorescent green of the pitch, the bubbling anticipation and excitement of the crowd. It was derby day. The day both sets of fans were waiting for since the fixtures were announced back in July. From a Bolton perspective, it was not disappointing.
Wigan started and ended the first half brightly, dominating the opening and final ten minutes, playing with a high intensity with quick, incisive passing helping them find ways through the Bolton backline. Duo Emry Huws and Callum McManaman both being at the forefront of all that Wigan did, with the latter hitting the woodwork twice. That coupled with a frantic final minute of the half in which Bolton just couldn't clear the ball, meant we were slightly fortunate to go in at half time level. Although, Bolton controlled the majority of the first half, but only Max Clayton managed to test Scott Carson.
The first half was a fairly equal affair, the second was anything but, as Bolton Wanderers flew out of the traps to go 3-0 up, in a blistering opening fiftieth minutes. We scored three very decent goals and should have scored more, as we began to dominate the game in a very similar fashion to Tuesday night, with high intensity pressure and quick, clever passing. A late scare made for some slightly tense closing minutes, but Bolton never looked like losing as they secured a third straight win at home in a row, to climb out of the bottom three.
You can sense it all around The Macron Stadium now, the whole aura and attitude at the club has already changed, so quickly after Lennon coming in. Fans are happy and excited again, debating on Twitter rather than arguing; even players who aren't involved on match day seem like an integral part of the squad and the whole club seems united. It's truly heart warming to witness.
Now, onto the important stuff, just how did the players do on Friday night?
Andy Lonergan - 6
Lonergan was hardly troubled all evening. If he had to make a save or catch a cross, it wasn't memorable in the slightest, epitomising Wigan's attacking efforts, Callum McManaman aside. It's a shame he couldn't keep a clean sheet, but there was nothing he could have done with afore mentioned McManaman's excellent volley. He could do with improving his distribution a bit though, too many kicks from Lonners go into the stand for my liking.
Josh Vela - 6.5
In contrast to Tuesday night, I thought Vela was better defensively than he was on the ball against Wigan. On the ball he was a little tentative and was caught in possession a few times, but that didn't deter him as he continued to show for it and attack down the right hand side. At the back, he was given the run around by McManaman in the opening stages and was then easily beaten for pace by everybody's favourite person, James McClean, for Wigan's consolation, but that aside, he held his own once again. Making some important, and some thunderous, challenges.
Matt Mills - 8
Yet another colossal performance from Mills, who seems to be growing into the captain role game by game. Personally my MOTM, Mills was imperious as nothing managed to get by him. He read the game expertly, always being in the right position to cut out the danger and, as always, he was a monster in the air. It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if Lennon made him the captain, eventually.
Dorian Dervite - 8
After a slight wobble midweek, Dervite was back to his dominating best Friday night, and he hardly put a foot wrong all evening. The partnership between him and Mills continues to blossom, and under the stewardship of Lennon and Mjalby, looks more secure than ever. The best a Craig Dawson-less Bolton Wanderers defence has ever been in the Championship.
Tim Ream - 8
Another fine performance from the American, in both aspects of his game. Offensively speaking, he was as good as ever, a constant menace down the wing, always an option for whoever was out on the left and allowing them to drift inside. In defence, it was one of his best performances for Bolton. The ineptitude of Rosler shone through as he moved McManaman, who was constantly skinning Vela, on to the left where Ream didn't give him a sniff until he was moved into the centre. Fortune and Maloney, who were also pitched against Ream, faired no better either.
Niel Danns - 8
Outstanding, once again. Danns is quickly becoming the lynch pin that holds the midfield together with his energetic personified performances, clever passes and astute positional awareness. He's forever winning the ball back and getting the team moving up the pitch. There was one point in the first forty-five minutes where it seemed as if Rodger Espinoza was destined to score, but Danns made a lung-busting run and a good tackle to deny the Honduran, as he was about to let fly.
Mark Davies - 7
Before the game, I was calling for Davies to be dropped to the bench, feeling that at the moment he'd better used as an impact substitute, at the beginning of the game I still thought I was right. But Davies grew into the game a lot as it wore on. He fitted in well along side Danns, pitching in defensively, and with his quick feet and surges on the ball was a great transition from defence to attack.
Liam Feeney - 7
He may not have bagged himself another brace, but Feeney is continuing to prove me right. In the first half when the going was a little tough for Wanderers, he was one of the ones continuing to be a threat and create opportunities. I felt his link up play with others around him was vastly improved and he also coped better when he ventured over to the left wing, as the forward three were constantly interchanging. It was also his lofty cross into the box which Craig Davies duly obliged to head into the back of the net.
Chung-Yong Lee - 8
These pieces are quickly becoming a weekly Chung-yong Lee loving session, as once again he was utterly splendid to watch. He's been completely galvanised by a manager who's shown faith in him and given him the freedom to attack at will, and he does so with elegance and spectacular vision. His through ball for the opener was almost extraterrestrial, as he somehow spotted the run of Clayton and played a wonderfully weighted pass for him to stroke home. The Chung-yong Lee we lost to a horrific leg injury is back, and I couldn't be happier.
Max Clayton - 7
After a couple of promising cameo appearances, Lennon decided to thrust the young forward into the starting XI, in place of the suspended Darren Pratley, and he didn't let his manager down. It's very apparent that he's only young, as he's still very raw, but his willingness to attack and his movement was excellent all night. He was constantly looking to get in behind the defence and latch on to a pass, which he did in emphatic fashion to open the scoring. Clayton had a similar chance when he came on against Norwich, and what a difference a week makes, because instead of dragging it wide he calmly slotted the ball through the legs of the out-rushing goalkeeper. He did go onto miss another very good chance, but I think that can be excused after a very good full debut in which he was dynamic and dangerous.
Craig Davies - 7
It was always going to be difficult for Davies to repeat the level of which he played on Tuesday, only a mere three days later, to me he looked a bit fatigued as he was marshaled fairly easily in the first half by Wigan centre backs Leon Barnett and Rob Kiernan. But into the second half he was back to his barnstorming best as he began to bully the defenders again. His performance was selfless as he threw his body about in order to hold up the ball and get others involved in the action. And he finally managed to score the goal he so thoroughly deserved, and what a brilliant one it was too: it was his excellent first touch that got the move underway before he shrugged off two challenges and played an excellent ball down the right hand side to Feeney. He proceeded to charge into the box, hanging in the air for what seemed like an eternity before powerfully heading in past Carson.
Jay Spearing - N/A