Bolton Wanderers have only gone and bloody won away again! Phil Parkinson is really beginning to turn the fortunes of the club around and we now sit top of the league, the only team in the Football League to have a 100% win record. Two great goals and a professional, calm and unbelievably solid defence helped Wanderers make it three wins out of three and things are finally looking up.
Here's how the players did:
Mark Howard - 7.5
Howard has been impressive so far this year, he looks very assured when shots fly his way and rarely spills the ball into dangerous areas. He was unlucky to concede after pulling off a sensational save to push Chris Lines' free kick onto the post and couldn't do anything about the rebound. His distribution needs work though.
Lewis Buxton - 7
Just like against Wimbledon, Buxton is continuing to assert himself as a really solid fullback. He may not be the fastest or hurries forward to join in the attack but he near always takes up the right position and he has a great habit of nicking the ball off attackers' toes. It'll be interesting to see how he deals with faster, more skilful winger, but thus far he's made a great start to his Wanderers career.
David Wheater - 8
Wednesday night was probably Wheater's best game in a Bolton shirt in years, he's improved ten hold by playing alongside Beevers and playing in a consistent backline. Alongside Beevers, Wheater was impenetrable, especially towards the end of the game as Bristol poured bodies forward. Last season we'd have capitulated and panicked, but on Wednesday we stayed calm and every single cross was headed and cleared away. Also, he took the royal piss out of a striker feigning injury, so that was fun.
Mark Beevers - 8
This lad, this bloody lad, we haven't had a defender as good as him since Gary Cahill. I've said it in every addition of player ratings so far but he's just so dominant, he's a pure leader and every ball that comes near him gets twatted into touch. No thrills, no messing, just good old fashioned defending. He's going to be loved here.
Dean Moxey - 6.5
Moxey struggled at times against the pacey Leadbitter and was beaten on a couple of occasions, but otherwise it was just a standard Moxey performance with not much to write home about. It must be said that as the fullback that does have pace, he does have a harder job than Buxton as he's the one who runs forward in support of the attack.
Jay Spearing - 8
I didn't think Spearing had his best game on Saturday, but he was brilliant against Rovers and seems rejuvenated along with so many under the new management. He was absolutely everywhere, winning the ball, covering the fullbacks, protecting the defence and getting the ball moving. He was so much better on the ball than he was against Wimbledon, and all that's without even mentioning his phenomenal free kick. Think the biggest improvement with Spearing is how his temperament is a lot calmer which makes him a better leader. Towards the end of the game there was a chance when a younger Spearing would have dived in and killed the defender, instead he just ran through him and smashed the ball out of the stadium. A great performance.
Josh Vela - 8
I, and many others, questioned Vela after his poor showing on Saturday and a few wondered if the club were wrong to turn down Wigan's advances for the player, but he proved all those doubters wrong with his best performance in midfield for Bolton ever. Against Wimbledon he struggled to have any impact on the game, but against Bristol he too was everywhere and did a great job, alongside Spearing, in silencing Rovers' attacking threat but, crucially, also getting forward much more often. He blasted the opener in within six minutes after a blistering counter attack and was getting forward all night and actually making his presence felt up there.
Liam Trotter - 7
Like a few others in the squad, Liam Trotter has had a new lease of life under Phil Parkinson and is finally looking the like the player we thought we'd signed all those years ago. He doesn't do as much running as Vela and Spearing, but he's very composed and calm on the ball and strong in the tackle. He even showed a few glorious touches of skill as well. He did tire quickly, but that's understandable as he's played so much football over the last week.
Mark Davies - 5.5
Unlike his fellow midfielders, Davies seems to be the one who is yet to have really improved from last season and he was once again (mostly) ponderous and wasteful on the ball, constantly running down dead ends and playing poor passes. I say all this, but he now has two assists in two games, so he must be doing something right.
Gary Madine - 6
Madine didn't have much look on Wednesday night as he was constantly getting blown up for "fouls" by the frankly appalling referee, Ollie Yates. Every time the ball came up to him the over grabby and physical defenders threw themselves to the ground and the ref was always fooled by them. He showed some nice touches but little opportunities came his way.
Jamie Proctor - 7
The other striker had a better evening, however, Proctor seems a lot more physically able than Madine and he's miles better at bringing the ball down and running with it or laying it off to a supporting player. He was integral in a goal once again with his quick passing and was once again very impressive.
Chris Taylor - 5
Like Saturday, not much to write home about.
Zach Clough - 7
Clough is continuing to impress with his brief cameos off the bench and once again looked sharp on Wednesday. After Wimbledon I commented on his seemingly new found strength, that's still present, but we saw the Clough we all love in full force against Bristol. A mazy run in which he bamboozled three defenders with eased, which should have led to a goal, proves that the skill he posses will be more than enough to set him apart this year.
Conor Wilkinson - 3
Aside from the one nice touch he played to set Clough away on his run. Wilkinson was very, very disappointing. I don't think I've seen a less intelligent footballer in quite some time, the most striking example of it being when Clough was trying to break away, instead of peeling off to create space and an option, Wilkinson instead opted to just run in front of Clough and get in his way. In the dying moments he somehow lucked his way into the box completely unopposed and decided to have an awful shot with his weaker foot rather than tee up the completely open Clough. Poor.