Last night was my last Bolton Wanderers game at the Macron Stadium for a little while as this Sunday I move, quite ironically, to Sheffield. It really was a fitting send off really, a rather drab 0-0 draw that saw Clough pick up another dislocated shoulder which will see him out of action for months. What more could you ask for?
I thought our opponents, Sheffield Wednesday, started the game very brightly, Marco Matias and Kieran Lee were looking very dangerous with sharp passing and intelligent runs. Wednesday had enough chances in the opening 30 minutes to end the game there and then, but a combination of brilliant defending, wayward shooting and Ben Amos kept them at bay.
After that the game became rather dull, both teams had their moments and tried to take the initiative but neither ever really looked like scoring. The closest Bolton came was through Wellington Silva and Stephen Dobbie.
However, despite the lack of attacking impetus, it was another rather solid showing from the Whites, the defence were mostly imperious and we earned another point and another clean sheet. So not the worst result in the world.
For the last time in what might be a while, here's how I thought the players did:
Ben Amos - 8
For the vast majority of the season so far our goalkeeper has either not had anything to do or was unable to anything about the goals we did concede. Last night, however, he proved once again what a master stroke Neil Lennon has done in signing him. In the opening stages when Wednesday were dominating proceedings, Amos was a big aspect in them not running away with the game. Marco Matias made the mistake in trying to get around Amos, rather than square the ball, and soon found himself disposed with a great chance gone. Amos was also forced into three more great saves throughout the game. With the rest of his play extremely solid, it was another fine performance from the 'keeper.
Lawrie Wilson - 8
My personal choice for 'Man of the Match' after the game was Lawrie Wilson, as he was brilliant throughout the entirety of the game and was not once beaten. He was constantly coming up against tricking opponents in Lee, Matias and Bolton old boy Barry Bannan, but none of them had any joy in beating our chirpy Southerner. Wilson constantly easily won back the ball without going to ground and a lot of our attacks were started from him.
Prince Desir Gouano - 7.5
I bloody love Prince, I really can't deny it. He's absolutely fantastic, and was again last night. When discussing the game on episode 27 of the #LOVpod I remarked how playing against the massive Atdhe Nuhiu would be a big test of a different kind for our new centre back pairing, both Prince and Derik passed with flying colours. Prince's pace was once again his biggest asset, as he was constantly able to outrun attackers and sweep the ball away from him. However, his distribution is Matt Mills levels of bad. Whilst he didn't warrant any defibrillators by passing the ball straight to an opponent, his attempts to hit long balls always ended with conceded possession. He should leave the passing to Derik.
Derik Osede - 8
Speaking of, Derik was imperious against Wednesday. Whilst both centre backs did there bit on Nuhiu, it was Derik who was tasked with being the man on him, and the big man had no joy against our Spanish defender. Derik did surprisingly well in the air against the 6ft6" striker, especially since he's a good 6" shorter, and did even better on the floor with cutting out danger and winning the ball back. One wayward pass aside, his distribution was superb, and his brief moment of winning the ball and then carrying it a good thirty yards is a real tease of things to come.
Dean Moxey - 7.5
Through no real fault of his own, I thought Moxey struggled in the opening half an hour. Matias, was constantly making intelligent runs and exploring the gap between the defenders, making him difficult to pin down. Our left side was where a lot of their early opportunities originated from. However, once Wednesday lost their early attacking impetus, Moxey was back to his best. It may sound like I'm constantly repeating myself in the way I'm describing our back four, but they were all really solid, with Moxey being no different. Who ever Wednesday threw it him on the wing he dealt with easily, and he was constantly getting up and down the pitch in support of the attack. You know, I think he might even be playing better than Tim Ream ever did.
Neil Danns - 7
The knock on the head he picked up on Saturday didn't seem to effect Danns at all, as he put in another very good performance in the middle of the park. Some people will still claim for Danns to be dropped so the likes of Josh Vela can get more game time, but as of yet Danns hasn't done anything to be worthy of being dropped. His passing wasn't the best last night, but then again no one's was, but the energy he brought to the midfield was priceless. In Darren Pratley's absence, we've needed someone to pick up the mantle in being the engine in midfield, and Danns has done that valiantly. He was a great shield for the defence, but was then always charging forward with the ball and getting the Whites further up the pitch. It seems like he's finally getting back to his old self.
Mark Davies - 6.5
Skipper Mark Davies couldn't reach the heights of Saturday's wonderful performance for a number of reasons. Wednesday did an excellent job in flooding the midfield, with Sam Hutchinson sitting in front of the defence, when Davies got on the ball it was difficult for him to find any space for him to move into. He was also, in the first half especially, pinned back deep into our own half as the Wednesday midfield dominated possession. Whilst Davies couldn't be as thrilling on the ball as Saturday, it was still a good performance. He did the gritty work in midfield, pressing attackers and winning back the ball. And he passed the ball from midfield well too, giving it to Clough and Silva who were the two players making things happen for the Whites.
Liam Feeney - 6
It was a very strange game from Feeney. He worked extremely hard, marshalling the wing well and had the beating of Daniel Pudil every time. He was dogged in keeping the ball, was constantly able to get past his man, it was just his final ball that regularly let him down. Not all of his crosses were bad, with it being more the fault of the attackers that nothing came of them, but the majority were either well over fit or well under fit. His tendency to cut inside on his left and try and bend a cross in is frustrating too, as they always ended up nestled in the arms of the goalkeeper. It wasn't a bad performance by any means, but he needs to do more.
Zach Clough - Clough out of Ten
It was another quiet game marred by another shoulder injury which will devastatingly see Clough out of action for several months. It seems the lad just can't catch a break, after scoring his first goal of the season on Saturday and looking ready to kick on, his other shoulder has gone and popped out after he landed awkwardly from a cowardly challenge from Hutchinson. It'll be a bitter pill for Clough, the management and the fans to swallow, but hopefully he can come back a stronger player. In the game its self, he showed some nice touches and linked up really well with Silva, but couldn't really get hold of the ball much himself due to the aforementioned flooding of the midfield.
Wellington Silva - 6.5
Oh Wellington, you're a really strange one. Silva broke the record for the best skill I've ever seen about three times last night, on the ball he is simply dazzling. The trick he did on the byeline was mesmerising and something you'd usually see in a circus. He worries defenders with his runs inside as one wrong move leads to a penalty and he really makes look like a better team. However, his final product needs to improve a lot. You can see the Arsenal gene in his DNA shine through in every performance from him kicking out at players to doing five rolls on the ground after being graced on the ankle. But the biggest aspect of the Arsenal in him is his tendency to take the extra touch. In the first half he found himself baring in on goal thanks to a delightful ball from Clough, he could have smashed it into the corner first time, instead he took another touch which allowed the defenders to catch up and the 'keeper to steady him self. The ball was deflected just wide. So his end product, especially the final ball, needs a lot of work. But otherwise, what a really exciting player we've got on our hands.
Gary Madine - 4
I'm sorry everyone, but I don't see it anymore, I can't see Madine coming good. I really hope I'm proved wrong, but I can't see how he's going to permanently climb out of this rut. Against Wednesday he tried, but he hardly won anything. His touch was slack and he didn't have a sniff on goal. The last one might not be entirely his fault, and he should have been awarded a penalty in the first half, but performances need to start improving - soon.
Stephen Dobbie - 8
This might be weird to read, but Dobbie genuinely changed the game upon his introduction. His willingness to actually shoot gave the crowd a lift, a long with his assured passing and the fantastic sliding tackle he made as Wednesday tried to mount a counter attack. He came very close with his second effort, as it just flew over the cross bar, and looked very good and sharp. I really wouldn't be adverse to seeing him start against Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Emile Heskey - 5
The big man was only given ten minutes on this occasion, so it wasn't really enough time to make any sort of impact on the game. Made a few nice touches though.