I for one went into this game with a little optimism. I expected to see a reaction to Neil Lennon’s sacking. Not a first away win of the season necessarily but maybe a hard fought draw or a close loss. How wrong could I be?
Jimmy Phillips named a slightly changed line up for his first game as interim with Tom Walker coming in along with Kaiyne Woolery and the walking wounded David Wheater. This meant Derik Osede moving out to an unfamiliar right back position in our defence.
So the game began. It was fairly even in the opening few minutes nothing of note happened. Then Bristol City broke through down the left beating the out of position Osede for the first of many times that afternoon. The shot was saved by Paul ‘Chubs’ Rachubka who parried the ball straight to Aaron Wilbraham who was free in the middle of the box. The legend of the game and goal poacher settled himself seeming taking an age before firing into the top of the goal. 1-0 after three minutes, it should have been a sign of things to come.
Then nothing of note really happened for a few minutes as neither team carved any form of opening. Then on ten minutes a man at the peak of his physical powers Lee Tomlin on loan from Premier League Bournemouth got the ball in what seemed to be an unthreatening position. A couple of touches later and suddenly he was leaving Dean Moxey for dust and breaking into the Bolton Wanderers penalty area. Before you could say how did a man with his build do that it was 2-0 thanks to a composed finish.
Ten minutes gone and already it had to be game over. But I turned to my mate and pointed out that last time Phillips took over as interim City went 2-0 up only to lose 3-2 in his first game. The game was still on, how naive I could have been?
What I failed to account for was that back then we had on paper one of the leagues better teams. Martin Petrov scored one of the goals. Jay Spearing was at the peak of his powers in a Bolton shirt. We still had Chung-Young Lee and so many others capable of turning a game. Whereas City that season finished bottom relegated weeks before the end of the season and were generally fairly useless. Sound familiar that?
At some point either before or after their second goal Woolery made some good runs and showed some real promise. Twice he collected the ball on the halfway line and had the City back four backpedalling into their own penalty area. It’s just a shame that both times the ball was easily ran out of play for a City goal kick. This was in a way a positive, that rare ray of sunshine in the eye of the storm. It did show what Woolery can do and hopefully with a little more experience he can make defences pay in such situations in a way he didn’t at Ashton Gate.
Nothing much happened for the rest of the first half. Bolton had a good spell with some teasing crosses from Moxey. But that was about it of note in a fairly mundane first half.
So half time 2-0 down. Not the end of the world hey? Could have still fought back and at least made a game of it couldn’t we! In an attempt to do that Mark Davies was substituted 49 minutes too late (including first time stoppage time if anyone is confused) and Neil Danns came on in his place.
The second half opened slowly, as much of the game up to that point had been. But then came the third goal. Peter Odemwingie (yes I was also surprised to discover he was still a thing too) who was making his debut having joined on loan scored, obviously. I mean the only surprise there is it took him until the 50 somethingth minute to break his duck. The defence gave him far too much space and he duly punished them by hitting a shot past Chubs in the Bolton goal, again obviously.
The game stayed at 3-0 for a while with again neither team really creating much. I think it was around now in the game that Gary Madine created probably Bolton’s best opportunity pulling the ball back to Tom Walker who duly skied it over the bar. At some point Madine forced the City keeper into his only save of the afternoon with a decently hit long range shot. An easy save all the same for the City keeper. I cannot remember if these things happened around here, earlier or later in the game. To be honest it all became a bit of a blur during the traumatic second half.
But then the floodgates opened. Scott Wagstaff who had only been on the pitch for a matter of minutes turned the ball into the back of the net after Jonathan Kodjia’s pull back to make it 4-0. There was audible surprise in the stadium announcer’s voice as he read out the name Wagstaff, something about that made it so much more painful for some strange reason. That goal came in the 79th minute and City didn’t waste much time in adding another.
This time Kodjia went from creator to finisher as he added the icing on the cake with City’s fifth goal of the afternoon. Then just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse Joe Bryan picks the ball up on the halfway line and just runs forward. No one decides to tackle him. Instead they just all stand there and watch as the City academy graduate ran through to complete the route. The goal reminded me of the one Hatem Ben Arfa scored against us at St James Park the year we went down from the Premier League. It was a good individual goal but someone should have tackled him and the fact that they didn’t was a total joke.
To be fair those who scored today summed up why we are where we are and why City are pulling away. Tomlin is a player who cost Bournemouth a staggering £3.5 million in the summer from Middlesborough. Kodjia cost City a cool £2.2 million fresh from being named French league two player of the year, I mean what a signing for a team just promoted from League One. And then Odemwingie I mean really? He has been a Premier League striker for how long now? While City have added real quality to their ranks Bolton have lost Liam Feeney who love him or hate him has contributed this season and are unable to play Jay Spearing. At least if they were both out on the Ashton Gate turf then someone would have kept fighting till the end.
Credit is due to Bristol City of course for winning this game so convincingly. But Bolton put up no opposition, they showed no fight and were just pathetic for much if not all of the 90 minutes. This team needs to take a long hard look at themselves over the international break and decide if they want to be remembered as players who fought for the cause or as players who gave up fighting for the shirt. Indeed many of them need to decide whether they want to continue to play at Championship level at the end of this season, because one thing is for sure after that game no one in their right mind will try and sign any of our players.
And on that note happy Monday one and all!