I attended what more than likely will be my last Bolton Wanderers game of the season on Saturday, as the ten men were finally beaten in the last minute by Reading after a valiant defensive display.
Here's how I thought the players did:
Ben Amos - 8
Ben Amos finally returned to the starting XI after injury on Saturday and showed, maybe even to those who don't rate him at all, just how much we've missed him in recent weeks. He may not be the best, but he's far better than the league position we were in. He, along with a few defenders, nearly dragged the Whites over the line and earned a draw from deserved defeat with a string of very good saves, including one from the penalty spot. Could be an argument that he should have done better for the goal, but I thought Olla John's shot was unstoppable, personally.
Niall Maher - 7
It's great to see yet another academy graduate seamlessly be promoted to the first team and put their senior colleagues to shame. U21s captain Maher made a solid and steady debut in a Whites shirt and looks to be the first competent right back we've had in years. He willingly got forward but wasn't that effective up there, with his good stuff coming at the back, where he dealt with a number of Reading's supposedly talented wingers with relative ease.
Rob Holding - 4
Our young defender was only apart of the game for twenty five minutes or so as he was sent off midway through the fist half for bringing down Matej Vydra as he raced on through in the penalty area. From where I was sat it certainly looked like a penalty and probably a red too, and upon further inspection on the (albeit poor angled) replay I still lean towards that viewpoint. Holding doesn't have many weaknesses but one of them is that he isn't the best at recovering when a striker gets in behind him, which showed here. Maybe he did get the ball and the ref made an appalling decision, but either way, making that sort of challenge there so early on the game is a bit of a rookie error. He'll learn from it though.
David Wheater - 6.5
The game did not get off to a good start for Wheater. His age and slow legs stuck out like a particularly sore thumb against the sprite, energetic Holding and later Derik. Reading were constantly getting in behind the Bolton backline with precise through balls, and with Reading's pace Wheater was left in the dust. A lot. However, he later redeemed himself by steadying and then denying a certain goal on two separate occasions on the goal line.
Dean Moxey - 3
That was easily Dean Moxey's worst game of the season, he looked as if he'd been possessed by the spirit of Djimi Traore. He couldn't pass to a white shirt, was constantly getting cut open due to bad positioning and had an all round bad day at the office. Hopefully it's just a blip.
Josh Vela - 4.5
I actually thought Vela was having a pretty solid game, especially considering he was having to play alongside Pratley. In the opening stages of the match, when he was partnered with Derik, the pair looked good together. They were both equally able to be combative and then to spray a pass forwards, but Holding's dismissal put an end to that. Vela did but in some good defensive work around the field, but when it mattered most he didn't get nearly close enough to Olla John who smashed in the winner. Though, there is an argument that midfielders should be inviting shots from there as it takes something special to go in. Shame that it was.
Derik Osede - 8
The Spaniard probably picks Amos to the post for the MOTM award, in this his finest performance in a White shirt to date. He started out in midfield, something I've been touting for a while, and impressed while obviously channeling the spirit of Ivan Campo, as I described above. His physicality and calmness on the ball make him well suited to a midfield position. After Holding saw red Derik had to drop back in to defence where his impressive performance continued and he put in a spirited defensive showing that deserved a clean sheet. A particular highlight was how he caught Vydra when he was clean through and stopped him with a fanatic sliding challenge.
Stephen Dobbie - 5
He should't have started, obviously, but before he left the field early due to getting a knock on the head Dobbie hadn't done anything wrong and was looking tidy on the ball.
Darren Pratley - 1
I didn't get tp sleep until 9am this morning (and then woke up at 12) as I stayed up to watch Wrestlemania and The Walking Dead finale. I was royally fucked by both as they both were humongous let downs. I do not have the energy in my body to talk about another let down. You don't even need to have seen the game to know how Pratley played, for it was Pratley.
Zach Clough - 4
It is easy, and correct, to call Clough for having yet another quiet game, although it's clear that while being played out on the left and then I think on the right(?) that Clough was not in a position in which a player of his traits was ever going to have a real impact on the game. He was isolated and should never have been positioned there, just why Phillips chose to do so is beyond me. Even so, Clough still was the only one of our players to actually look threatening and get a shot on target away.
Kaiyne Woolery - 5
The young striker put him self about valiantly and displayed just how quick he is as he tirelessly chased down Reading defenders and hopeless hoof balls but, as with Clough, he was left hopelessly alienated by his managed who played him upfront on his own. Clough and Woolery is an attacking partnership that has real excitement and potential, Phillips needs to have the balls to play it.
Liam Trotter - 5
Seemed solid enough and I don't remember him making any mistakes, but I don't remember him doing anything good either.
Neil Danns - 3
Misplaced a couple of passes and probably shouldn't have been brought on.
Emile Heskey - 1
I'm going to write a longer article about this later in the week but Heskey being brought on instead of the young Alex Samizadeh is one of the worst decisions I've made a Bolton Wanderers manager make. It directly led to the winning goal and pissed me off no end, so stay tuned.