Like probably everyone else I thought Bolton Wanderers would lose this game. Even people who have never heard of football had probably reached that conclusion. But alas Bolton upset all of the odds and pulled off a win no one saw coming.
I turned on the live coverage to see images of Darren Pratley pouring water over himself, an interesting move from the captain and according to Sky man of the match. Then out the players came to 14,366 supporters according to the liars on the Bolton twitter account.
The opening 15 to 20 minutes were somewhat woeful from both sides with a foul a piece being the only events of note along with Pratley falling over the ball for the first time that afternoon and Emile Heskey flicking to ball onto the Hull City goalkeeper. What a pair they are.
Then Hull began to grow into the game. One good chance went a begging when they broke through. Then there was another chance but the Hull player opted to try and give Bolton a throw in rather than shooting, a sign of the quality on show for much of the 90 minutes.
After that came probably the best chance to score in the entire match. Mark Davies, who I thought looked lively throughout no doubt eyeing up a summer move, went on a great run through the Hull defence and pulled the ball back. He put it on a plate for club legend and captain fantastic Pratley who conspired to put a terrible effort straight at the Hull Keeper. The ball then spilled to Zach Clough whose shot was well blocked before Neil Danns hit just wide from the edge of the penalty area.
Yes that was a chance missed, a very good chance. But it showed Bolton were in this game, and little did we all know at the time was a sign of things to come.
The next moments of note came via the man himself Ivanhoe. First he pulled off possibly the greatest tackle even seen by man only to be penalised for it. Then he collected the ball on the edge of the penalty area and decided to take a shot straight at Michael Dawson, everyone loves a trier I guess.
Then came probably the greatest footballing moment which has been witnessed in a Bolton match. Move over Jay Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff. Don’t even bother Ivan Campo and Stelios Giannakopoulos. Darren Pratley brought the ball forward. Darren Pratley did a step over. Darren Pratley fell over. It was the single greatest piece of skill I have ever seen and can be summed best by my tweet at the time on the LOV account;
Pratley goes on a good run before tripping over this strange round object he was trying to chase— Lion of Vienna Suite (@LionOfViennaSte) 30 April 2016
Also for anyone who has not yet seen the legendary incident here we go and your welcome;
STONEWALL PENALTY https://t.co/FgCY5g6H74— Gary Parkinson (@GaryParkinson) 30 April 2016
Very little happened for a while until the second best moment of the match. Pratley committed a foul and got a yellow card. Yes I know what you’re thinking it’s only a yellow so he had to stay on the pitch. But that yellow means he will miss the Fulham game next week! Graham Scott have a drink on me tonight! If anyone is unsure about whether I’m the only one who was overjoyed by this then just check out this wonderful tweet;
Referee reaches to his pocket to book our captain, our leader, Darren Pratley. Met with chants of "off, off, off" by Bolton fans....— Jake (@Jake_BWFC) 30 April 2016
Half time came and went and the match plodded on with nothing of great note. Then there was a great pass from Clough, a really wonderful through ball which found Danns in acres of space in the penalty area. His shot pulled a good save out of the Hull keeper and again showed the promotion chasers that Bolton were not there to make up the numbers. A message they did not listen to.
They were nearly punished for this from the resulting corner where the Bolton header was cleared off the line. It was oh so close to going over but based solely on the live coverage I think the right call was probably made for what would likely have been David Wheater's final Bolton goal.
But then came the Hull chances. First they forced us to clear off the line with Tyler Garratt, who played well, being in the right place at the right time. Then Hull had a shot cannon back off the underside of the cross bar. Bolton were riding their luck and it appeared to be a matter of when and not if Hull found their break through.
But Bolton would have something to say about that in no small part thanks to their substitutes. First the man, the myth, the legend Stephen Dobbie came on in the place of Clough and then George Newell came on for his first team debut in the place of Heskey (and there was much rejoicing).
Lawrie Wilson, who really showed why he has featured so little this season with a solid performance, put a decent ball into the box and at the far post Dobbie was lurking to smash the ball home. Credit where credit is due it was a fantastic finish from Dobbie, made all the more amazing when you consider how bad at football he is. I believe, though do not remember seeing, that Newell was involved in the build up to this goal all of 30 seconds after coming on. He looked decent up top, but more on that in a separate piece in due course!
The next moment of note was again from the boot of Dobbie. But this time he fired high and wide from the edge of the box, thereby proving that his great goal was a fluke. Dobbie was again in the thick of the action nutmegging someone, seriously I am not joking he did. Although once again to even things out after his next trick he passed the ball straight to the Hull player he skinned.
Then came the Hull pressure. I have to say this is the first time in a while that I have been nervous watching Bolton. I was actually nervous and slightly excited about the prospect of winning. It was a nice feeling. The reason for the nerves was that Hull had taken complete control of possession at this point. But every time they tried to make a move on our goal they were faced with a white wall before them. It was such a good wall you would think that Donald Trump or Bran the Builder had erected it, after all they do both build the best walls.
After four nervy minutes of injury time the game came to an end and Bolton won. Yes it doesn’t matter that we won. Yes it is annoying that we haven’t played like that all season. But it is a really good sign that our form is picking up as we look towards next season and try to get out of League One in the right direction.
Now to round this off I got a bit bored and when I get bored I get a bit weird… Read this last bit, if you can be bothered, in your best David Attenborough voice. You’ll have to trust me on this;
Once again the majestic tiger was stalking its prey, though now he limps along clearly tired after a long hunting season. Today he has found a litter of pigs trotting around looking in a bad way. This should be no problem for a strong, well fed tiger, who, despite his tired state, should get himself another meal.
These pigs have clearly had little to eat over a long period and look like they have been cut adrift of the other animals in this ecosystem. Even the chickens and the robins who looked like they were living in harmony with the pigs have since left them long behind.
The tiger, as ever, is taking his time. He is searching for the most opportune moment and looking to attack the weakest of the 11 pigs on offer.
There is something so blissful about the moments before an attack, almost like the calm before the coming storm. Finally he appears to have chosen his target. Suddenly the tiger pounces, out of nowhere.
But rather than trotting away and giving up the pigs are standing firm and fighting. Remarkably this weak litter of pigs have managed to repel the majestic tiger who will have to look elsewhere for his next meal.