Last night was hard to take. Even as I sit here the morning after, I can still feel the blood boiling through my veins at just how unjust that game was.
It was unbelievably, yet simultaneously entirely unsurprising. As it was probably the most Bolton game in history.
The referee was an utter embarrassment to his profession, and more importantly, a danger to our players on the pitch. It was clear from the off-set that Reading's tactics were to bully and batter us, which they were allowed to do as the abysmal ref and his fellow linesman allowed them to get away with it. We lost three players to injury in the first half (AND EVEN THE ZORB BALL PLAYER HAD TO LEAVE THE GROUND IN A WHEEL CHAIR).....
.....two from a direct result of Reading FC's overt physicality.
Kevin McNaughton was blatantly kicked by Jordan Obita, literally an inch in front of the linesman. But he gave nothing and the right back had to be stretched down the tunnel - sadly so soon after coming back into the fold. Then a trip on Zach Clough from Chalobah left the youngster with a dislocated shoulder.
It's honestly quite hard to put into words just how atrocious the officiating team was last night, from wearing the same coloured kits to Reading, to all the fouls that went unpunished including not giving a penalty for handball, to the utter fucking lunacy of letting Reading take a throw in that was awarded to us. It was honestly unbelievable and it'd take about 1000 words to document everything they did wrong.
Despite the very obvious set backs and playing against fourteen men, Bolton came out for the second half galvanised - maybe even inspired by the injustice of the first forty five minutes. They started throwing some of it back at Reading and battling with them, not allowing them to bully as they had previously, and it showed as we dominated them in the second half.
Not only were we stronger, but we played them off the pitch at times with quick counter attacks and some really nice moves. We got exactly what we deserved when Gudjohnsen slotted the ball home, and we should have gone on to win the game.
But alas, we shot ourselves in the foot once again and just couldn't see the game out. Conceding a last minute winner scored by a smarmy twat called Jamie Mackie. After scoring he then proceeded to run in front of my stand, take the piss out of us, his fellow professionals who'd left the field injured, and his fellow professionals who wanted to restart the game whilst he faked injury to waste time. Still wasn't booked though.
The result was an extremely hard one to swallow, especially since we'd done so well to overcome the injuries and deserved all the three points. But this last minute goal malarky has happened three times now, and it's really costing us.
Anyways, here's how I THOUGHT the players did. Read it and weep:
Ben Amos - 7
It was another really solid, assured performance from Amos - right up until the 92nd minute when he was beaten at his near post. Whilst it was a powerful strike, I think he knows he should be doing better with them. Apart from the last minute mishap though, he was good once again. He didn't have much to deal with on the night, but he dealt with everything that did come his way (apart form the goal, obvs) well. I also like how even when Reading hit shots high and wide, he always seemed to have them covered.
Kevin McNaughton - 7
After Saturday's promising return to the fold, McNaughton was given a starting birth for the first time in quite a while in a White shirt. He was actually playing well too, he was strongly contesting for the ball and certainly getting the better of his left wing counterpart. Sadly, however, his evening was cut drastically short when Jordan Obita blatantly kicked Mcnaughton in the leg and he then had to be stretchered back down the tunnel, being the first player to get injured.
Matt Mills - 8
I've had the feeling this past week that Mills might leave in the summer, I don't really know why, just a feeling. One which I certainly don't hope to come true. But my fears were eased with the performance he put on against Reading. I thought he was a real leader and fantastic at the back. His pure primal scream when our goal went in was a sight to be hold. Nothing got past him at the other end either, he was dominant in the air and fought well against the extremely strong Russian guy who I really can't be arsed to find out how you spell his name. He won some important tackles and was a threat from corners too. However, he needs to be a little careful with how he confronts referees, even though he was completely right when ever he protested the ref's decision, he still went in guns blazing, which could well have been harshly dealt with under an other referee.
David Wheater - 7
In typical Bolton fashion, a player who was truly outstanding in our last outing was the next so succumb to injury. David Wheater was having a fairly solid game in alongside Mills, but he appeared to pull his hamstring midway through the first half and had to be regretfully replaced.
Tim Ream - 8
An excellent performance from Ream, as he was an absolute rock at the back. I feel like I repeat my self quite often when I discuss Ream, but it was a very typical performance of him. He won practically everything down the left hand side, and was as classy as ever on the ball. Some key interceptions when Reading were threatening a counter attack is what set his game apart against Reading though.
Saidy Janko - 8
I'm starting to think that Janko can only play good on Tuesday nights! I was really impressed with the Manchester United loanees performance throughout the game, but especially in the second half. He was doing well in the first half, don't get me wrong, he easily had the beating of Obita, but the Reading left back was constantly pushing, pulling and obstructing Janko, and he seemed to get inside his head a bit. But there was none of that in the second half as he started giving Obita a taste of his own medicine and throwing a few shoulders of his own his direction. His powerful surging runs was our main outlet, especially after Clough's departure, and he was a real danger down the wing, putting in many tantalising crosses. His decision making was sometimes a little poor though, when he opted to shoot rather than cross or pull the ball back. I'd like to see a lot more of Janko in the near future, as his pace and ability to breeze past people could come in very handy.
Neil Danns - 7
Danns has come in for a fair whack of criticism in recent weeks, some justified some less so, but I've always maintained that I believe his dip in form is just that - a dip. After a steady showing against Brighton, I thought he improved a little bit more in Tuesday nights game. In the first half he seemed to be the only player willing to contest with Reading on the physical side of things, throwing himself into headers and challenges that everyone else seemed to be shying away from. I also thought he was important in winning back the ball from the opposition, and then getting the ball moving with simple passes from the back.
Barry Bannan - 9
Okay guys, I was completely and utterly wrong about Barry Bannan. He's fucking ace. The little wizard in the middle of the park weaved his magic with some really smart and composed passing. He was also elegant, yet really expressive on the ball, with the amount of perfectly timed twists and turns he showed off. He played in a style I likened to a break dancer, with the way he was free forming his outrageous moves. I see the hype around his set piece delivery now by the way too, as he put in several excellent crosses into the box. He worked hard in the midfield and battled tirelessly, despite his obvious disadvantage of size. He even blocked a goal bound shot off the line too. His performance was Premier League class, and I can now see the type of player we have got on our hands.
Liam Feeney - 6.5
After a very disappointing performance against Brighton on Saturday, Feeney was much improved on Tuesday. Moved other to the left to make way for Janko, and he seemed to look a bit more comfortable out there to me. His crossing was greatly improved as he was getting his foot around the ball more and lofting good balls into the box, sadly other players were not there to take advantage of them, and if they were then the resulting shot was easily saved. Feeney's set piece delivery was greatly improved and I also thought he linked up play well with his fellow attackers. However, he looked a little knackered towards the end of the game, not very surprising considering the amount of football he's played in recent months and he occasionally hesitant on the ball when he could have made a good pass.
Zach Clough - 7
The mortally terrifying sight that I think we all knew deep down that we'd see sooner or later occurred tonight, as Zach Clough had to be carried off with an injury. Clough's injury stemmed from yet another rough foul that the abysmal referee let slide, and it seems that he's now dislocated his shoulder. Up until that point, Clough was one of the few bright sparks in the team. When he got the ball at his feet and ran at the Reading backline, he beat them all easily, he was our real driving force in a mostly dour first half. However, with his sleight frame, he was finding it really difficult to contest with the likes of Chalobah, who towered over him.
Adam Le Fondre - 7
That was one of Le Fondre's better performances in a White's shirt. He hustled all game long, and did fantastically well to beat his marker and tee up Gudjohnsen for the Iceman's goal. He was denied a couple of times by either a great save or a last ditch tackle, and if our players looked up to spot his intelligent runs more often he may find himself with more chance, but saying that, we really could do with him getting his clinical edge back soon.
Josh Vela - 7
I was quite surprised to not see Vela on the team sheet from the start, but it wasn't long until he had to come on in place of the injured McNaughton. It was a performance that we've come to expect from Vela at right back, as he continues to improve after a slight dip recently. He was strong in both sides of the pitch, especially defensively where he made important clearing headers and tackles.
Dorian Dervite - 5
Having to come on spontaneously due to the injury picked up by Wheater, Dervite never once looked assured in what he was doing. He was dragged out of position easily which left acres of space in behind, which was finally exploited in the final minute. He looked quite clumsy at times too, from when he was squaring up to a player biding his time to make a tackle or when he was aimlessly firing the ball out of play. It all resulted in him getting too tight to a player in the final minute and not intercepting the pass, which allowed Jamie Mackie to go though and score the equaliser. Dervite's been in poor form of late, and it got worse last night, but hopefully he can rekindle his early season brilliance again soon.
Eidur Gudjohnsen - 7
Due to the obvious physical nature of the game, I'd have brought Tom Eaves on instead of Eidur at that point, because, however bad the young striker may be, he's big and would be able to contest on the physical front with Reading. But, as usual, I was wrong and bringing on Eidur proved to be the right call. His touch and passing was sublime, putting those who've ever said he's past it to shame, and his goal was a really well taken finish whilst under pressure. The effort he put in on pressuring the back line was also admirable too.