Whenever I think about Bolton Wanderers these days it fills me with an unbelievable amount of sadness. In life I like to consider myself an optimist - always looking to get the best out of a bad situation - but Saturday's loss to Preston has eradicated any feeling of positivity I previously held towards my beloved football club.
We began the game much slower than we started against Ipswich on Tuesday night, looking laboured and leggy in possession with no real penetration going forward. The team was virtually unchanged; the only notable absentee was the in-form Jay Spearing, who we now know was unable to play due to a clause in his contract that means we have to pay Liverpool £100,000 when he makes his next appearance for the club. Despite our new owners allegedly having cash in the bank, their request to defer the payment was denied by our friends in Merseyside so Spud Head Spearing was left out of the team. Yet another unbelievable masterstroke in the saga that is Bolton fucking Wanderers.
Anyway, I digress. After a scrappy opening 20 minutes Gary Madine actually managed to hold the ball up on the edge of the Preston box. He laid it off to Mark Davies, who, after dancing round a few defenders, slipped the ball to Liam Trotter, allowing him to convert with a smart finish that I didn't even know he was capable of. Happy days.
Despite going one goal up as we did against Burnley a couple of weeks ago, we still looked both nervous and laboured in all aspects of the game. The lack of quality in our team is painful to watch - it's so frustrating to see us leading a game but chasing it at the same time. It's almost as if we expect to lose every week and then surprise ourselves by taking the lead in a game, but ultimately every player still expects the us to fail by the time the game is over; and it's getting worse. Derik Osede, Rob Holding and Dean Moxey were all fantastic at the back, pulling us out of the shit on more than one occasion in the first half. Lawrie Wilson, on the other hand, was really, really shit. He's a League Two defender at best, despite having fantastic hair. Up top, Gary Madine was having one of his worst ever games in a Bolton shirt. The man must've been a carpet fitter when he was younger because he seems to love spending time on the floor. He got nothing from the referee (who had an atrocious game to say the least) and didn't really get much help from those around him either. Once again Zach Clough went missing in a game where we needed him to be at the top of his game - I really think this lad has a lot more to learn than most fans think.
The first half petered out into nothingness as Preston grew into the game and we looked increasingly meek. One notable moment was just before half time featured Darren Pratley, Paul Gallagher and Bailey Wright in a three-way kick off which looked close to getting pretty nasty. All three received yellow cards for their troubles, subsequently ruining Pratley's game.
We started the second half relatively brightly, with Madine and Clough both failing to convert chances that they're more than capable of putting away, but it didn't take long for Preston to get themselves back into the game. A poor pass from Pratley, intended for Liam Feeney, gifted the away side possession and allowed them to exploit our weak spot: Lawrie Wilson. Fast-forward 10 seconds and the ball was in the net after Jordan Hugill poked home from close range.
Once the scores were level again the game was only going to go one way. Clough missed more chances. Trotter was shit. Feeney had one of his worst games in a long time. Silva came on and did fuck all. Madine continued to get muscled off the ball at every given opportunity like the bad jailbird shithouse he is. We looked like a team that were already convinced they'd been relegated, despite every Tom, Dick and Harry at the club saying we're going to fight until the end. Yeah, good one. Get fucked.
The referee continued to help us spoil what could've been a really brilliant game of football by denying us a free kick on the edge of the box after Mark Davies was clear through on goal. Some fans cried penalty but I'm not sure it was inside the box, although it was 100% a red card offence. Still, the bastard in black gave us shag all and left it up to us to press the self-destruct button.
Neil Lennon managed to take the time out of planning our relegation party to bring on Kaiyne Woolery for the last five minutes of normal time, although the young forward hardly even touched the ball. Preston got the winner shortly after and we brought Stephen Dobbie on as our impact player to try and salvage something. Stephen fucking Dobbie. This guy is the worst player in the history of football - seriously, why is he even allowed to represent our club? More to the point, why does Neil Lennon rate him so much? I can honestly say I've never, ever hated a Bolton player as much as him, so much so I'm going to write a whole piece on it tomorrow.
As I'm writing this, Charlton are beating Middlesborough. We're shit. We're going down. Our entire club is rotten to the core.
I'm off for a cry.