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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers vs Rotherham United

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Bolton finally got off the mark with a much needed 3-2 victory over newly promoted Rotherham United. In a uncharacteristic entertaining battle at The Macron Stadium, Dougie Freedman’s Bolton team fought their way over the line despite the endeavour of Steve Evans’ Millers side.

Clint Hughes

There were quite a few positives to come from the game but it wouldn't be a Liam O'Meara ‘Five things' without a couple of gripes, so I will start with the negatives.

1) Defensive Fragility

Perhaps the only positive to come out of the weekends bore fest at home to Sheffield Wednesday; I was really hoping for similar defensive resolve against perhaps weaker opposition, this could not be further from what we saw.

To be honest, it was not the threats that were posed by Rotherham causing Bolton problems, it was their own defensive ineptitude and frequent mistakes. Matt Mills had a shocker of a game, his needless foul right at the end of the penalty area cost Bolton a half time deficit although he did improve slightly as the game went on, we have seen a lot better from the burly centre back and hope he can put this game behind him.

Tim Ream is perhaps the most left-footed player I have ever seen and his preference to switch to his stronger side at right full back really leaves him exposed as Bolton's central midfielders are not the quickest at making themselves available to the struggling defender.

And we could all talk all day about that clown Andy Lonergan ...

2) Gameplans & Formations

Anyone else struggle to work out our first half formation?

I still have no real idea what system we were playing but could only make assumptions based on the players on the pitch. The game plan must have been to keep as narrow as possible and to try and penetrate Rotherham through the centre for an onrushing Mark Davies or Joe Mason to capitalise.

The trouble with this tactic is that Jay Spearing can't pass.

Spearing continued, as he has done throughout his Bolton career to knock the ball wide and Bolton's more dangerous and creative players continued to find themselves in areas of the pitch where they could have little effect. Poor Darren Pratley did not have a clue where he should stand and even Lennie Lawrence had to get up to point out where he should be.

Then the changes were made.

Chung-Yong Lee and Liam Feeney were introduced and gave Bolton the structure they were craving and the results were clear to the eye. Bolton suddenly became as dangerous as they were dynamic and particularly Joe Mason profited from the increase in chances created as Mark Davies was able to pull the strings in the areas that mattered.

3) Dean Moxey

The left-back has struggled since his arrival from our feeder-club in South London, Crystal Palace, although Tuesday was easily his best game in a Bolton shirt. Moxey stood up to the overlapping attacks of the Rotherham right-hand side despite being largely exposed by the narrow shape of Bolton.

There still were some distribution issues with Moxey but I suppose he wouldn't fit in with this Bolton team if he could pass so I am sure in time he will find his feet.

4) How quickly it can all change

For weeks now on Lion of Vienna Suite and various lesser Bolton Wanderers blogs, we have discussed the loss of atmosphere at The Macron Stadium and the apathy that has developed in the metaphorical Macron terraces. It genuinely began to seem that some people no longer cared and I remember standing there thinking I could not wait to go to work the next day.

Then we played well.

In fact, not even well, just slightly better and the place woke up a bit and I felt myself enjoying myself again and I daren't say I'm the only one. The game seemed to respond and both sets of fans got behind their team for what was a very exciting last 20 minutes.

Whilst a couple of our readers were sleeping without a bed sheet with their ‘Freedman Out' banners, I was left thinking that perhaps we should try and ignore the clear issues at the club and simply enjoy the game again. I am as 'Freedman Out' as anyone is, but I have to admit I did enjoy the more positive atmosphere of Tuesday than I have at all over the last 12 months.

‘If I can change and you can change, then everybody can change!' (Stallone, Sylvester 1985 ‘Rocky IV')

5) Joe Mason

A hat-trick!

So that's what one looks like, it has been a long 12 years since Fredi Bobic left Ipswich stunned with a finishing header that could only have come from that forehead.

Anyways, back to 2014, Mason was simply electric throughout the second half as the game opened up and took his chances superbly.

In truth, he could have had 5 by the time the game ended but I think we are content with the three that gave Bolton their first win of the season.

You have to think what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was thinking when he allowed us to sign the striker on a season-long loan whilst signing Federico Macheda.

I don't care and I hope all the Cardiff fans are watching too.

Solskjaer Out, red bastard.