Wow. Where do I begin, what a rollercoaster performance.
I had planned this article out perfectly whilst sat dejectedly watching Jermaine Beckford pretend to play football. The plan was to make a load of points and to basically rant about everything. Unfortunately Craig Davies felt the need to complicate my evening by converting his penalty in one of the last kicks of the game, so I present my immediate reaction in 2 parts, enjoy.
Part 1 - First 95 minutes.
If you didn't attend tonight's game you will look at the score and think, 'hmmm, 3.2 - must have been a brilliant game.' WRONG! The first 90 minutes were embarrassing, shambolic and quite frankly pathetic. Before the game Sir Douglas Freedman presented quite a strong squad which pleased me. He mixed youth, and experience and gave a start to youngster Conor Wilkinson which excited many Wanderers fans.
Despite the team theoretically being strong on paper, it wasn't.
1. Oscar Threlkeld. - The academy graduate was given a starting role in tonight's team at right back, and he had a stinker. Right from the first kick of the game he was giving the ball away, and this was a running theme throughout the game. He lacked composure and his decision-making wasn't up to scratch. He looked nervous and was caught out and exposed various times by the speedy Bury wingers. I am a massive fan of Threlkeld and I love seeing local lads make the step up into the first team and I fully believe that Threlkeld can do that; However, tonight was not his night.
2. Creativity. - The first half was abysmal. After scrolling through the club's surprisingly useful mobile phone app I had a look at the stats and was mortified to see that the visitors had dominated possession with a whopping 58%, how embarrassing! To make matters worse we had failed to have a shot on target in the first half whilst Bury had had 6 attempts on Adam Bogdan's goal. I know that times have changed but we all seem to have become accustomed to regular lackluster performances. In essence, we need some of our old arrogance back. Not long ago we were hosting European football on a mid-week night, now we were nearly getting beaten by local minnows Bury. We were extremely lucky not to lose, and if we had, the team would have got an almighty boo and lots of questions raised about Dougie Freedman's position. But to get to my point, we created nothing, it was painful to watch. Pratley was poor, but the only thing that he can do is foul. Without Mark Davies, Stu Holden or even Andre Moritz we don't have exciting, creative players who have the vision or even skill to play through that killer ball. The midfield offered the strikers very limited service, in which, Jermaine Beckford messed up - as always.
3. Conor Wilkinson. - Surprisingly, I am going to pause my rant to shine a glimmer of hope towards the club. In my opinion, Wilkinson had a decent game. The midfield failed to give him any clear-cut chances to test the visiting goalkeeper, but he was very capable on the ball, and did look threatening making quite a few dangerous runs. I've completely run out of patience with Beckford, I really have. So a solution could be playing Craig Davies with either Joe Mason or Wilkinson, definitely worth a try, Dougie? He was later subbed off for Davies in the second half to the fan's disapproval, he may have an interesting season with the club.
Right, that's sort-of my first half rant over, however the second was no better either.
The biggest turning point in the game would probably be the Shakers bringing on ex-Wanderer Rob Lainton who had replaced Shwan Jalal at the interval. Freedman also brought on C Davies and Chung-Yong Lee, which did marginally make the game less painful to watch. Rightfully so, the crowd got frustrated as Beckford squandered chance after chance. It's crazy to think that we reportedly paid £1m for him, crazy right? Rob Lainton made a couple of saves and looked like he was out to prove a point, however he cemented his place in Bolton folk-lore in the 96th minute. The rest is history. - (Check out our instagram account @lionofviennasuite to see the penalty.)
Part 2 - Extra time and onwards
I'm going to stop rambling now as the game has left me very tired, and not as grumpy as I was before half time started. I'll save all the details for the match report however I will comment about the events. Both sets of fans had turned on Freedman and chanted, 'you're getting sacked in the morning', which was fair enough, it was diabolical. A fortuitous penalty has saved his beef for a while, the backlash would have been significant if we had lost the game to a team that's 2 divisions below us. We didn't deserve to win that, and I feel that we have cheated Bury out of another famous cup scalp for them.
Obviously I was elated after the game, after the dramatic comeback and the passion showed after Neil Danns smashed home that free-kick. But it wasn't good at all, likened to by the lovely gentleman sat behind me by, 'Twas' like the Vitesse game, but a lot bloody worse.'
Apparently Nottingham Forest manager Stuart Pearce was in attendance for tonight's game, after watching that he will definately go home and sleep easily. The team has many cracks, which have only been pencilled over after tonight's game. We lack defencive reliability, creativity in midfield and a proven goalscorer who moves and helps carve chances.
If we continue playing like that, it's going to be a very long and depressing season again. Many players commented before the season started how important a good start is, has that gone out the window? I certainly don't want to sit through more hopeless performances like that only to see my beloved team start playing and getting results from March onwards.
Apologies for the ramble, I hope that you are able to relate to some of my points and understand the difficulties of being a Bolton Wanderers fan.
For those who have been inspired after today's comeback and believe that a cup run is on the cards, the official draw will be made on the morning of June 17.