It wasn't nice and it wasn't pretty, but Bolton Wanderers finally managed to get back to winning ways with a much needed victory against an atrocious Millwall FC side. Bolton were never tested too much by Millwall, only when they shot themselves in the foot and allowed their opponents to stroll through the back line and go one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Thankfully, Ben Amos won both duels which protected the two goal lead, courtesy of a terrific Adam Le Fondre double.
There were some great performances, and there were some... less so ones. Here's how the players did:
Ben Amos - 9
Despite Andy Lonergan's return to fitness, Ben Amos has retained his spot in the first team and he's yet to give a reason for him to be annexed any time soon. His performance against Millwall may have been his best yet for the club and it just about confirms that we should definitely sign him in the summer. He wasn't overly busy against Millwall, but on the two occasions in the second half when he was called upon, he didn't let the side down. Twice Millwall managed to split our defence in half which led to their attacker running clear on goal, twice Amos stood up strong, showed impeccable timing and made the saves. His all round game was spot on too, he commanded his area, caught the ball cleanly, punched well when needed and had everything covered. His Manchester United upbringing is clear to see and if we do manage to sign him in the summer, then we'll have a Premier League goalkeeper in our team.
Josh Vela - 5
It was kind of a rough afternoon for Vela in the right back position. He often positioned himself far too infield, which led to lots of open space on the right. This was exploited when Millwall managed to split our defence open for the second time and go clear through on goal, thankfully Amos was on hand to make the save. If memory serves, he didn't go up to join in attacks much either, with just the one, albeit very good, charge forward against Millwall. An off day from the youngster, but he's played a lot of football recently and I'm certain it's just a blip.
Matt Mills - 6.5
It was a clumsy game in parts from Mills. He, much like Vela, got his positioning wrong at points and it would have been a lot more costly against a better side. His passing out from the back was poor, as he needlessly gave the ball away on a couple of occasions and he often got too tight to his opponent, giving away the odd free kick. He recovered by being dominant in the air and making a couple of important blocks, but he was far from his best against Millwall.
Paddy McCarthy - 8
It was a second excellent defensive display in a row from McCarthy, who's another name onto the list of loan players I want to join the club permanently. It's clear from his demeanour and the way he barks orders that he is a real leader, and we've lacked a player with his type of experience at the back for far too long. His performance was very similar to his Blackburn display, winning everything that came near him, be it in the air or on the ground, and being completely no-nonsense with the ball. I like him.
Tim Ream - 7
It was yet another typical Tim Ream performance: solid and dependable at the back, and creative going forward. He had very little to deal with in terms of Millwall attacks, but anything that came his way was easily coped with. And up at the other end it was his fantastic, and definitely intentional, lofted ball that set Le Fondre up for the opener.
Liam Feeney - 6
I thought Feeney started the game quite well. Perhaps galvanised by the warm welcome the Millwall fans gave him, he was seemingly quite up for it early on. He was throwing his weight around and beating his adversary at left back, and his crossing wasn't too bad either. However, he seemed to fade as the game went on and wasn't involved too much in the second half.
Neil Danns - 3
I think I need to begin this by stating that I do like Danns and think, for the most part, he's been excellent in the holding midfield roll since Neil Lennon came in. Having put in the wee disclaimer, Danns' form has dropped ever since he was sent off against Liverpool, and the game against Millwall was the epitome of that. His game was a vicious cycle of: getting the ball > spending too long on the ball > losing the ball > diving in to try and win it back > giving away a foul. On another day it would have cost us. With another referee he would have been rightfully sent off. Against a better team his mistakes would have led to chances for the opposition. It's really sad to say but he's become a liability in the middle of the pitch and it was no surprise when Lennon took him off at half time. I believe he's suspended now due the amount of bookings he's accumulated, which is a good thing. It gives Danns out of the firing line and gives him the chance to rest and refresh and it gives us a chance to try someone else in his position, hopefully Simeon Slavchev but probably Giles Coke. After his break I can only hope that the Neil Danns I know returns, 'cause I miss him.
Barry Bannan - 8
I'm going to be eating my words about Bannan for the rest of time, I feel obliged to apologies every time I write about him. We desperately missed his ability to actually pass a ball forwards on Wednesday night, and also his composure in the middle of the park. I'll never get tired of seeing Bannan's effortless turns on the ball and the way he gracefully carries it forward. If we somehow manage to sign him permanently in the summer then we'll have a Premeir League standard midfielder in our starting line up, which ain't half bad.
Tom Walker - 7
Due to an injury to Saidy Janko before the game had even begun, youngster Tom Walker was finally given the chance to show the Bolton crowd what he can do on his first start for the club. The young winger was a little tentative in the first half, often opting to take an easy pass rather than run at the opposition. But he grew in to the game as it went on and showed his quality with a couple of really nice passes and one mazy run that had the Millwall players back-pedalling. We can't expect every youngster to make the impact Clough has, but Walker's first start for the club was a very solid and assured one and he nearly topped it all off with what would have been an excellent free kick. I think we will be seeing more of him in the near future.
Eidur Gudjohnsen - 9
Eidur Gudjohnsen displayed his unparalleled class and ability in Saturday's win. He's on a completely different level to all his team mates, so much so that it can sometimes be a problem as others can't anticipate his intelligent flicks and passes. Against Millwall he always knew the exact thing he needed to do to move the team forward, and it was his drive from midfield and pass to Le Fondre that got the all important second goal. The Iceman's contract runs out at the end of the season, and we'd be mental not to give him another year. What a player.
Adam Le Fondre - 8
We saw the real Adam Le Fondre against Millwall, and what a player he is. By his own admission, his all round game wasn't as good as it has been in recent weeks: he didn't seem to put as much pressure on the centre backs and his link up play wasn't quite at the level we've come to expect, but that matters little since his goal scoring touch returned to him - and all it took was for his team mates to finally provide the service. Two fantastic passes were sent Alfie's way during the course of the game, and he took full advantage of both to score brilliantly. He displayed against Millwall just how dangerous he can be when given the right service, he makes intelligent runs, has a great first touch and can finish with ease, so if the players continue to provide him with a similar level of service then the best is yet to come from ALF.
Giles Coke- 5
The Sheffield Wednesday loanee is a tidy enough operator, but he's very limited and he did make one mistake which led to Millwall's best chance of the game.
Craig Davies - 6
It's clear that Davies is still getting back into the run of things since his lengthy time on the sidelines, the chance that he was just a second away from connecting with is testament to that, and as result he still looks a bit rusty. Once he regains that edge of match fitness, he'll start scoring again.
Liam Trotter - N/A
Only came on in the 87th minute, so had little time to impact the game. Good to see him back from injury though.