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Player Ratings: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Brentford

That was better.

Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Well, that was actually a lot better than expected.

On a day in which it was revealed that the Bolton Wanderers senior players hadn't been paid in November, it seemed that before the match even started the Whites were destined to lose yet another game. Then when John Swift finished off an intricate passing move after ten minutes with a wonderful dipping finish, it felt like business as usual.

However, what wasn't quite as expected was how the Whites actually, for once, fought themselves back in the game. It still wasn't a brilliant performance by any stretch of the imagination but, for my money, it's the best we've played for quite some time.

Bolton controlled the game for large portions but, as always, whenever a player in a white shirt got within the vicinity of the opponent's box their feet turned to butter and the ball would often go astray.

Despite our uncharacteristic decent performance, Brentford will still looking the more dangerous of the two sides. They countered with swift attacks made up of nimble passing and clever movement, exploring the gaping holes often left in the heart of defence by Dorian Dervite . If it were not for  Ben Amos Brentford would have been out of sight.

Into the second half and yet even more surprises were to be had. Bolton, after a promising opening 45 minutes despite the scoreline, didn't actually do what they typically do and implode, if anything they actually improved.

They smartly began to overload the Brentford box with cross to exploit their defensive frailty in the air, with Jose Casado, Josh Vela and Liam Feeney being particularly helpful in that regard. And that's how a goal eventually arrived.

A cross into the box wasn't cleared and it fell to Danns on the edge of the box, who slammed the ball into the ground and in off the post. Relief engulfed the Macron Stadium. It was nearly ecstasy a moment later when Shola Ameobi came close to putting the Whites ahead but was denied by a great save.

Chances swung back and forth after that, but the whistle blew with the score tied at 1-1 and it was probably the fair result. Bolton had the better of the possession and ample more opportunities, but Brentford probably had the better chances and certainly played the better football.

Whilst it's certainly an improvement from Wanderers and may prove that there is a little fight left in them yet, a single point doesn't do us much good and I do believe that Brentford being quite poor overall was more to with the result than our own performance.

But still, baby steps.

Here's how the players did in my eyes:

Ben Amos - 8

Aside from one wayward kick early on in the game, Amos didn't put a foot wrong and is the main reason we've come away from the game with a point. He made massive one-on-one save from the pish Lasse Vibe when the score was 1-0, got a strong hand on a goal bound effort late on and made several other saves that kept us in the game.

Josh Vela - 5

Despite signing two right backs in the summer, this is still a massive problem for us. Vela's performance was decent for the most part, but he was really weak and failed to get goal side in the build up to the goal and always looked capable to be exploited. However, after his shaky start he ran the line well, always providing support for Feeney, and swung some dangerous balls into the box. Generally tidy in possession.

Dorian Derive - 2

He's attracted to the ball like a flies are attracted to shit. He's forever coming out of the defensive line to close down a player, and Brentford exploited it on an infuriating amount of occasions. The first goal was from a direct result of that, and it should have led to about two more as well. Please, don't even get me started on his, once again, mind numbingly appalling passing. Get Prince in and keep him there.

David Wheater - 7

Was once again our solid mainstay in the heart of defence, in what must be his longest and best run of games in a White shirt. He didn't have as many noticeable moments than he has in past games, aside from a crucial block in the final minutes, but was just really dependable throughout. Dealt with pretty much everything that came his way with ease.

Jose Manuel Casado - 7

In out field terms, Casado was easily our best player on the pitch and was actually our best creative outlet. He's a left back. It seemed as if he spent more the game in the attacking third of the pitch than he did in his actual position, and we were the better for it. He was dogged and determined to get past defenders, and when he did he was forever wrapping brilliant crosses into the area. If only we had attackers capable of taking advantage. He even came close to scoring with a well worked short corner (no lie) in the first half. Oh, and how great is it to have someone who can actually take set pieces at the club?

Neil Danns - 6

Danns will probably come in for a lot of stick off a lot of fans, as he is want to do, but I actually thought he was our best midfielder on the pitch and had a relatively alright game. Much of his time on the pitch was spent covering the fleeting Casado, but he did it to good effect, breaking up play a lot and getting the ball back into attacking areas so we could keep up the pressure. His smart finish, where he hit the ball into the ground and made it bounce in off the post, was really well taken and was definitely very much needed.

Mark Davies - 4

It was a very quiet game from Davies, one that should have ended well before his 90th minute withdrawal. He lunged into a tackle on Brentford's Diagouraga, planting a nasty looking boot into the midfielder's standing leg. He should have seen red rather than yellow. During the rest of the game he was largely very much anonymous. He carried the ball forward well when he was on it, skipping past players from time-to-time, but he was then always looking to offload it as soon as possible. Not wanting to take hold of it and the responsibility of getting us back in the game. Another performance in which he hid away for the vast majority, they're sadly becoming the norm.

Liam Feeney - 6

As the clique goes, it was a game of two halves from Feeney. In the opening 45 he was largely, as he tends to be, bad. His crosses were always overhit, he was messing up simple passes and he was refusing to use Vela on the overlap. However, he bucked his ideas up in the second half and began running the line a lot better. He was swinging some inviting crosses into the box and was linking up well with Vela down the right. If it wasn't Casado who was trying to make things happen, it was Feeney, and at least that's something.

Max Clayton - 3

It's cruel being a Bolton fan, and that was displayed once again as Clayton hobbled off the pitch with only 40 minutes on the clock. It looked as if it was a pull of the hamstring for the player who only recently returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines, but only time will tell how serious it is - it certainly didn't look promising. Assessing his time on the pitch, Clayton wasn't involved much at all and struggled to get into the game. A couple of flick ons is all I can remember him doing.

Darren Pratley - 4

Sadly, as I think we all feared would happen in the back of our minds, Darren Pratley has regressed back to the stumbling, often falling, dangly legged liability that he was before Lennon joined the club. I thought he held the ball up well at times, but that was outweighed by his total ineffectiveness and him constantly giving away stupid free kicks.

Shola Ameobi - 5

Imagine Shola Ameobi genuinely being your best striker in 2015. That's not a dig at the bloke, because he is, but it's just such a sorry state of affairs. He gave his all on the pitch and was one of the few players who looked like he gave a shit and wasn't hiding away from the ball. He showed some nice touches and hold up play, but when ever it came to a killer pass or shot on goal he always seemed to get the ball stuck under his feet. Really should have scored the chance from close range in the aftermath of the equaliser.


Gary Madine - fuck off

I have an article idea lined up for some point this week on ol' Garry, but just incase I don't find the time to write it up let me show a little preview here, ahem: Fuck off Gary Madine you lanky strip of manky piss. First of all you show the tenacity to take on a spinning volley from 35 yards when you literally couldn't score a fucking open net from 6 yards against Burton fucking Albion. You, predictably, twat it high into the stand, wasting a good spell of possession when we had numbers up in attack and could have actually done something with it. Then, when your manager rightfully bollocks you for it you decide to call him a prick. It not only shows that you're a disrespectful twat, it also proves you're that absent of intelligence enough to do it when you're surrounded by cameras broadcasting to the world. Fuck off.

Stephen Dobbie - N/A



David Button - 7

Made some decent stops, one vital one from Ameobi.

Nico Yennaris - 5

Struggled with Casado's relentless attacking at times

James Tarkowski - 6

Nearly gifted the Whites a goal in the opening minutes with a weak back pass, but was largely solid afterwards.

Jack O'Connell - 5

Inexperience showed at times but battled well against the experienced Shola.

Jack Bidwell - 6

Wasn't given any protection from Swift, so understandable why Feeney and Vela were getting so much joy down that side, did all he could. Came close to scoring with a good header too.

Toumani Diagouraga - 5

Seemed quite over run to me in the midfield and didn't really get on the ball much, a couple of good tackles here and there.

Alan McCormack - 7

I really like McCormack and he was one of Brentford's best players on the night. Nonstop running up and down the pitch and really tidy in possession, created some very good chances.

Ryan Woods - 4

The young lad had a very quiet game.

Alan Judge - 7

A wonderful player to watch, at the heart of everything Brentford did well. Great mover on the ball and equally good passer.

John Swift - 5

Took his goal expertly well, but was also pretty quiet that aside, his total disregard of his defensive duties left Bidwell awfully exposed.

Lasse Vibe - 3

Total garbage, spurned some great opportunities.


Sergi Canos - 6

Immediately looked very dangerous upon his introduction, quick and clever player. Can tell he has a lot of quality even from his 20 minute cameo.

Konstantin Kerschbaumer - 5

Came very close to scoring when he came on, sured up the Brentford midfield a little.

Sam Saunders - N/A

No time to make any impact