The streaking rain, swirling wind and gloomy skies were pathetic fallacy to Bolton Wanderers, as this infuriating and disappointing season ended in a sombre tone.
I actually thought we started the game really well, the interplay between Bannan, Davies, Gudjohnsen, Heskey and Le Fondre was excellent at times and we created some really nice chances. The return of the diamond formation helped a lot in that regard, as it allowed the more creative midfielders to really get on the ball and make things happen. However, in typical Bolton fashion, after forty minutes of dominance, we conceded with three minutes to go of the half.
In the second half, we didn't recapture any of the creative passing and movement of the first, as Birmingham took charge of the game and allowed us to do very little. The team were atrocious in the second lot of forty-five minutes, as they slumped out the season to a measly one-nil defeat.
So, for one final time this season, lets see how the players did...
Adam Bogdan - 7
It was another dependable performance from the now undisputed number one. He wasn't challenged too much and, apart from the goal with which he could do little more, he dealt with everything that came his way with ease. But I do fear he'll be moving on to much better things next season: he was the last player to leave the pitch once the game had ended as he took his time to really applaud each stand, which to me just screams he was saying good bye. I really hope he wasn't though, because he's ace. Please stay Boggers.
Oscar Threlkeld - 6
I've been calling for Oscar Threlkeld to get some more game time in the Bolton first team for a while now, and I was finally granted my wish on the final day, as the 20 year-old started at right back. His performance was definitely mixed, but I was happy with it never the less. I thought he was good at winning the ball in one-on-one situations, he was strong in the air and he got forward really well, showing very nice touches in the attacking third of the pitch. However, he wasn't the quickest at getting back after his foyers up the field, and often left his position unguarded and exposed. His crossing wasn't very good either, as I said, he did really well to get in the position to cross but, apart from on one occasion, he let himself down with a really poor ball. Despite that, his performance was promising and I do believe he's proved that he can make the jump to the first team.
Quade Taylor - 7
One unquestionable highlight from this mostly awful season is the trust that Neil Lennon has shown to the youth players. He handed yet another one his debut on Saturday, out of necessity but still, as centre back Quade Taylor came in to replace the suspended Dorian Dervite. I was very much impressed by the former Crystal Palace man, he was a little nervy as it was his first game and did make a couple of suicidal passes across the box, but those minor hiccups aside, he was pretty good. He contested well against the physical and lethal Clayton Donaldson, got across on numerous occasions to cover for the roaming Threlkeld and cut out any danger, and he was also surprisingly very good on the ball. He had a pass completion of 91% and I was quite impressed with the forward through balls he was attempting, too. It was certainly a promising start to his Bolton career and I hope to see more of him next season.
Tim Ream - 7
It was yet another 7/10 performance from Mr. 7/10, as he made a successful return to the centre back position. He won all of his ariel duels and only missed out on one tackle, as he displayed he can be a bit more physical from time to time. What impressed me the most about Ream's performance, however, is how well he did at closing down Birmingham attackers in the box and putting a halt to their shots on goal. A Birmingham counter attack in the second half saw the ball cut back to Lloyd Dyer on the edge of the box, he was all set to shoot but Ream got out to him quickly and robbed the attack of its momentum. A sturdy end to a sturdy season from the American.
Dean Moxey - 8
Surprisingly enough, Dean Moxey closed the season with a man of the match performance. Up against a really tricky customer in Diamari Gray, the left back was fairly solid through out, with the young winger only ever getting past him on the left once, early on in the first half. Playing in his actual position, rather than centre back, Moxey proved that can be of some use to Neil Lennon's team. He was bombarding up and down the touchline all game long, which really made the diamond formation work in the first half, and he was actually putting some enticing balls into the box too. My only criticism, and it is a pretty big one to be fair, is that he kinda left his man whilst defending the corner, and his man scored the only goal of the game.
Neil Danns - 4
It was an incredibly infuriating performance from Neil Danns, perhaps indicative of his season on a whole. Positioned at the base of the diamond, he was actually doing quite well in winning back the ball from the Birmingham attackers, but then, in the very next movement, he would inexplicably give the ball away in extremely dangerous positions. I really hope the old Neil Danns reappears next season.
Barry Bannan - 7
I'm happy that the residing memory we'll have from Bannan's spell here won't be the disappointing performance against Bournemouth, or indeed the antics that got him suspended for a game by the club. He was a bit more back to his old self on Saturday, picking up the ball and making either clever passes with his midfield partners or raking accurate long range balls to the frontmen. Like the rest of the side, he was much better in the first half when he getting on the ball and making things happen. I hope it isn't the last time we'll see him in a Whites shirt.
Mark Davies - 5
It was another quiet afternoon from Mark Davies, as he struggled to really get on the ball and assert himself on the game. He made a couple of nice passes in the opening twenty minutes, and created an opportunity for himself when he picked the ball up and bent a shot around the post, but apart from that he didn't do much else. He really should have done better on the near post for Birmingham's goal too. He's still nestling in from a long term injury however, and it would be unfair to judge him too hardly at this stage. He needs a big summer to get really fit and finally rid himself of these injuries.
Eidur Gudjohnsen - 6
The Iceman was as tidy as ever at the tip of the diamond, always keeping play moving with his intelligent passing and delicate touches on the ball. I feel that he shouldn't have been brought off the pitch so soon, as we definitely lost something upon his exit. I just really, really hope we'll be seeing more of him next year.
Emile Heskey - 6
It was yet another good performance from Heskey, who continues to astound me with his fitness levels. He won everything in the air once again and was very good with the ball at his feet and linking up play with the midfield. It was him who came closest for us with a glancing header, from Le Fondre's cross, which was an inch wide of the post. He may have only scored the solitary goal for us in his spell here, but he's been a very good acquisition for us, and I hope to see him sign on for another season.
Adam Le Fondre - 5
Saturday afternoon's game will, unfortunately, probably be the last time we'll see Le Fondre in a Bolton team, and unfortunately, it was another one of those games where nothing really fell his way. He worked extremely hard, as he always does, in running the channels and hurrying the defenders, even putting a couple of good balls into the box too, but he didn't have many, if any, sights on goal.
Tom Walker - 5
The young midfielder was finally given a rest, as he only joined the game from the bench, but with Birmingham dominating when he got on, there was little he could do. He made a couple of nice passes, but little else.
Liam Feeney - 4
It's been a hard six months or so for Feeney, but he didn't end the season by winning around any of his doubters. He did very little upon his introduction, apart from sky a good chance well over the bar after being set up by Mark Davies.
Saidy Janko - 4
The Manchester United loanee was brought on with about fifteen minutes to go and he made little impact. He did try getting on the ball and running at the Brum defence a couple of times, but to no avail. I can't imagine we'll be seeing him back next year.
So that's at it! The season is over so they'll be no more dissecting of players' performances from me for another few months, at least until pre-season rolls around. Thanks for reading my ramblings over the course of the season!