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The Worst Substitution Ever

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Emile Heskey instead of Alex Samizadeh

Harry Hubbard/Getty Images

It's nearly a week since the ten men of Bolton Wanderers fell to a late 1-0 defeat at the hands of Reading and, even though the result means very little to our downwards spiral into League One, I'm still raging about a substation that Jimmy Phillips made towards the end of the game. The worst substitution ever.

The match was winding down to an end, a spirited and valiant defensive display from the Whites were coming close to somehow snatching a draw after being pumped for the entire game. Even though Bolton hadn't been near the opposition box for practically all of the half it did seem, at least to me, that everything was set up for Wanderers to get a completely undeserved last minute winner. The smashiest of grabs. The ultimate annoying game of FIFA.

17-year old forward Alex Samizadeh was on the bench, well, actually, he was warming up at the side of it and had been doing for about fifteen minutes. Short, quick sprints, lunges into the managers gaze, series of hops. You know the drill.

Even at such a young age Samizadeh has been making waves in the youth teams this season. Scoring near 20 goals for the u18s and a good handful for the u21s, too. He's been scoring goals of every type, thunder bolts from thirty yards and tap ins from three. He may only have recently turned 17 but he's been an exciting subplot to Bolton's awful drama of a season, even after he went on trial at Derby County. With all that in mind it's no surprise that fans have been clamouring to see him in action for the first team and Jimmy Phillips teased us all magnificently by placing him on the bench, with squad #43, last Saturday.

With the game close to the end, poised at 0-0 with the Whites totally not deserving the point they were about to earn, it seemed almost fairly tale like that Samidazeh would come on and score the late winner. But we don't get fairytales.

Instead of bringing on the sprite, energetic, eager to impress Samidazeh, interim manager Phillips instead opted to throw on the tired, old, tested and failed Emile Heskey. The substitution led to Bolton losing the game in the dying moments.

Some would, and rightly, say that Olla John's smashing effort was unstoppable, and it was, but the ball going to him in the first place certainly wasn't. Had anyone else come on instead of Heskey, not even Samizadeh, but literally anyone else then we wouldn't have conceded that goal.

John received the ball from Oliver Norwood just inside our half. Heskey was the one who was "closing him down", and as such Norwood exerted next to no effort in turning and getting away from Heskey and teeing up John.  Who then went and blasted it in.

If anyone else was in that position, say, a really fast 17-year old who'd be bubbling with energy after making his professional debut, they get so much closer to Norwood, don't make it so easy, don't let him turn and pass to exactly who he wants to. That goal doesn't happen.

I really would love to know why on Earth Heskey was brought on, because it didn't only cost us the game but it just didn't make any sense tactically, either. Yeah, I suppose you could argue that Emile would be able to hold the ball up, but the ball hadn't gone to the other strikers for the rest of the 90 minutes so why would it have done when Heskey was on?

No, having Heskey on the pitch in a situation where you need the strikers pressing down on those who have the ball in deep positions was completely ludicrous. The man doesn't have the legs for it.

As I said, this loss doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. We were related before it and we would have been relegated whatever the result was, but that does not mean I can't be annoyed when a decision costs us a point. That doesn't mean I stop caring when we lose in the last minute.

Because if we stop caring what's the fucking point in even going?