Bolton Wanderers bloody won a game! It was obvious, really, as it was the one game that I could have attended this season but genuinely couldn't be bothered to so didn't. Serves me right. It was a very solid and encourgraing performance from the Whites, who largely kept play-off secured Hull City at bay for 90 minutes. Apart from a Robert Snodgrass free kick and a Chuba Akpom chance, both of which hit the cross-bar, the Tigers threatened very little all day and Bolton deservedly took all three points.
Performances have gradually been improving in recent weeks even if results haven't. so you can't help but feel happy for Phillips, Reid and co that they did manage to get a win under the belts before the season ended. I can't help but feel that they'll end up with the job on a more permanent basis.
What encouraged me the most about the performance is that it was the first time that it actually gave me hope for next season, the first time I've felt that we actually might be able to claw ourselves back out on the first time of asking. No one knows how much of this team will be starting come August, but there's hope at least.
Anyway, here's how the players did:
Ben Amos - 6
Surpassingly, since Hull are gearing up for the play-offs and sit 20 places higher in the table than the Whites, Amos had next to nothing to do all game. I believe Hull only managed to muster two shots on target, neither of which were memorable, and any cross that was put into Amos' vicinity he actually dealt with with composure.
Lawrie Wilson - 7
Being drafted into the starting XI late in the day is never the best preparation for a player, but Wilson coped admirably and put in a solid perfjoamcne at right back, one that makes you wonder why, despite his obvious shortfalls, he hasn't had more game time this season. I can only really remember once occasions in which a Hull attacker managed to get on the wrong side of him, that aside he had a very sturdy afternoon. It was his brilliant, deep cross that set up the only goal of the game.
Rob Holding - 8
I don't need to say anything about Holding you don't already know, it was yet another display of defensive prowess of someone well beyond his tender years. Please, please. please stay.
David Wheater - 9
It does pain me to think that Wheater will more than likely be leaving on a free in the summer, because he really is a top defender. A small part of me thinks he may actually take a massive pay cut to stay at the Macron, but that small glimmer of hope is far outweighed by pragmatism. He was a brick wall against Hull, winning everything in the air and not letting a thing slip past him on the ground. Dominant.
Tyler Garratt - 7
After his baptism of fire debut last week, Jimmy Phillips did the right thing and started 19-year old Tyler Garratt rather than reinstate the recently hopeless Dean Moxey. The nerves got to him on a few occasions, especially when he found himself charging forward with acres of space in front of him and he react like a rabbit in headlights, but where it matters at the back he was solid and very composed for a lad making his full debut. Hull seemed to be targeting his side of the pitch, especially in the first half, and were continuously hitting cross field passes to Elmohamedy, Bruce presumably thinking they could exploit the youngsters inexperience, but he remained aware of his surrounding and allowed the Egyptian very little all game. There's still room for improvement, of course, but it's a very promising start to his Bolton career. If one positive is to come out of this unmitigated disaster of a season it is how promising our future looks with so much young talent breaking into the first team.
Derik Osede - 8
He looks like a complete natural in that holding midfield role, doesn't he? It seems like there's more Ivan Campo to Derik than just the hair. As I was watching the game on the TV set I found my self saying "he's class, Derik" every five minutes, with every smart interception, strong tackle and cool pass. It's a real travesty that he hasn't been playing there all season, and we can only hope that he stays this summer.
Neil Danns - 5.5
I pretty much forgot he was playing, which is usually a good sign for Danns because it means he hasn't massively fucked up and got on my wick. He was a good foil and outlet for Derik as he was always an option for a pass and, as ever, he put in the hard graft with the running. Decent enough, but didn't pull up any trees. Should have taken his two chances, especially the one which Clough played him in, with more composure.
Darren Pratley - 4
HAHAHAHAAHAHA, did you see that dive? He can't even do that properly HAHAHA. In all seriousness, it annoys me that I've come to dislike Pratley so much, because when I watch him put in his lung busting performances I do, genuinely, see someone who cares for the club, but, er, he's just really not good. All the gusto, effort and sweat really doesn't mean much when you can hardly pass a ball or somehow miss a glorious and easy chance eight yards from goal or constantly end up falling over or do such a dreadful dive.
Mark Davies - 6
Davies has been playing well of late, no doubt in attempt to attract any potential buyers in the summer, and even in a wide position that doesn't suit him he still managed to be effective. He displayed his ability to pass and move, and those trademark jinky runs also got a run out. If Pratley wasn't a massive, er, prat, he would have got an assist that a fine run deserved.
Emile Heskey - 4
It's hard to blame Heskey for being poor when this was his fourth start in two weeks (?), when he really isn't cut out for that amount of game time any more. He put in the effort, especially at one stage when he ran about 40 yards to make a challenge, but effort doesn't equate to a guaranteed place in the team. The funny thing is, I wouldn't be completely adverse to Heskey staying on next season in a player/coach capacity, but he just can't play as much as he has been recently. Had a couple of nice touches and knock downs, but his replacement did more in thirty seconds than he did in 60 odd minutes.
Zach Clough - 5
I really do fail to understand why Clough is being continued to be deployed out on the left wing as it's a position he simply isn't suited to, it more often than not leaves him isolated and unable to have any real impact on the game, aside from the beautiful reverse pass he played in Danns with, which should have led to the opener. He endeavoured to try and make something happen, but never really could. His work rate while on the wing continued to be impressive though and he helped out the young Garratt on countless occasions.
Stephen Dobbie - 7
I slag Dobbie off a lot, I was doing so even when he came on yesterday. It's not that I don't like Dobbie per say, it's just when you see a 30-something midfielder who more than likely won't be here next season come on instead of one of the four kids we have on the bench it does my head in a bit. That being said, Dobbie, as he has done on a few occasions this season, popped up with a goal that earned us some points. It was a lovely finish as well, a controlled volley right into the bottom corner. He was pretty good on the pitch as well, as he showed some nice touches and closed down with vigour. He soon reverted back to his typical self with a shot that ballooned over the cross bar, but we'll let that slide just this once.
George Newell - 7
Despite being long relegated and this game being our first win in god knows how long, this end of the season run in has been incredibly exciting for me because it seems as if we've had a new debutant with every passing game, this time it was the turn of young striker George Newell. What immediately struck me was Newell's physicality, within thirty seconds of being on the pitch he received the ball, held off a defender and played it on in a meaningful way. He did the same thing in the build up to the winner. He looks as if he's got the body to be a good lead front man, which may well benefit us massively in League One. He looked decent on the ball too, no opportunities came his way in front of goal so we'll have to wait and see if he can deliver on that front. I very much hope to see more of the kid in the future.