Jesus fucking Christ, lads, we didn't half make that difficult for ourselves, did we? Here's my five things from a game of two halves against Coventry.
1. Gary Madine is an unsung hero
Hear me out here. Compare Bolton Wanderers with Gary Madine to Bolton Wanderers without him; the latter coincides with our dreadful run of form earlier this season. Madine goes about his work much more quietly these days - winning the ball, holding it up and bringing others into play - with much less flapping and flailing than he used to. I'm not saying he's the complete centre forward because he isn't, but what he is is a hard working player that we miss dearly when he isn't in the team. He's not our 20-goal-a-season man, Zach Clough is, but if he gets a couple I think we'll see his confidence sky rocket pretty sharpish. Keep doing what you're doing, Gaz; we'd be fucked without you.
2. Our bench is unbelievably weak
James Henry and Chris Taylor came on with around 20 minutes to go and, to be honest with you, were piss poor. We have absolutely no strength in depth going forward which is a real concern of mine - all it takes is one injury to a key player and we'll really struggle. Hopefully we can bring in some more quality up top in January. Also, Henry and Taylor, if you're reading this - block me on Twitter. You're shit. Don't @ me.
3. Squeaky Bum Time
Good God, our back four gave me heart palpitations in the second half. How on earth we didn't concede is beyond me, as there were more than a few uncharacteristic calamitous moments featuring all four of them - even Mark Baevers, which is unheard of. I'm delighted we managed to weather the storm and didn't crack under pressure, but my God did we come close. We'll put it down to an off-game and move on. Hopefully it won't happen again.
4. Jay Spear-String (sorry)
How I've missed watching this guy run the show in midfield. In the first half he was everywhere - winning tackles, spraying passes around, pulling strings (hence the woeful title of this segment) and generally boxing shit off in the middle of the park. We missed him dearly when he was injured and it's of paramount importance we keep him fit for the rest of the season; he's one of the main keys to our promotion.
5. Zach Clough is the League One master
I've decided to end on a good note this week. I've been very critical of Clough for the last few years but he was genuinely a different class in the first half against Coventry. He was at least half a yard ahead of everyone else for the majority of the first half and his goal was a brilliant piece of opportunistic play. He thrives off the service he gets from Madine and the support of fellow Academy graduate Josh Vela - the three of them together are forming a formidable partnership up top, especially when they're supplied at ground level by Spearing and Thorpe. Excellent football all round.
I'm happy we held our own and ground out a great midweek win. It keeps the unbeaten home record alive and will work wonders in the dressing room. Onto the next one.