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Bolton Wanderers 1-1 MK Dons: Five Things

You'll never beat the Franchise Shane Douglas

Bolton v Everton U23 - EFL Checkatrade Trophy Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Let's not hang about shall we?

1) The Irresponsible Jay Spearing

El capitano has let us down.

He has been our best player so far this season and for him to rack up his fifth booking in just seven appearances is nothing short of irresponsible. To be suspended this early in the season is poor form from the ex-Liverpool man and he will be greatly missed against Walsall.

My colleague Daniel Horatio Murphy made a good point on this weekend's LOVpod in which he said he would much prefer Spearing to be banned for Walsall than Bradford City which is very true but it does leave us without a hugely influential player for a tough away game. I hope Derik Osede is his replacement.

The booking came from a case of dissent, which is the most frustrating thing of all. It is so easily avoided.

2) Jamie Proctor - Is He Any Good?

I can't decide.

The former Preston North End man spent a huge proportion of the game out wide challenging for lost causes. This is very admirable and points to a team player with a good work ethic, but it won't lead to him scoring that many goals.

PNE fans at work warned me that he blew hot and cold, with more cold than hot. His career goal record would back that up - however his performance made me pine for Gary Madine.

Proctor's apparent lack of interest in playing as a goal-getter also cost Keshi Anderson from time to time, as the Crystal Palace loanee was forced to go hunting for the ball rather than playing on the shoulder of the last defender.

3) The Influence of the Referee & Our Part in Our Downfall

This will be a short one, because there is no chance of disagreement that we won't all come to the same conclusion - this referee was atrocious.

The latest culprit, Peter Bankes, seemed determined to cost Wanderers the game which is stupid as well know that we can do that to ourselves easily enough.

His treatment of Jamie Proctor was inconsistent. His approach to dishing out yellow cards was frustrating and the way he spells his surname is completely unacceptable.

I understand why he gave them a penalty, and I agreed when he denied one to Bolton, but his approach to these big calls summed up a man who looked stunned by the big stage - this is something that we've had to experience already and that is a concern going forward.

In his defence, he handled Proctor very well. The Bolton Wanderers no.9 let himself down with his performance in terms of appealing to the referee for invisible fouls. It wasn't very nice to watch and could well have even contributed to his distain for anyone in a White shirt.

4) Plodding Midfield is a Problem

Josh Vela, Liam Trotter, James Henry and Jay Spearing made up our midfield four for the majority of the afternoon against MK Dons. We played a diamond as well as going to a five by the end when Parkinson made his sub changes.

I'm going to give Henry and Spearing a pass for this bit, but the performances of Vela and Trotter gave me pause for thought.

Their lack of mobility can be masked in a midfield five, but when they are playing in a diamond formation it insists upon them a degree of mobility that they just do not possess, in my opinion.

Vela is at an important stage of his career with links to bigger clubs going quiet, whilst Trotter has never really kicked on at all. Both have physical and technical qualities which, at the moment, are conspicuous in their absence from performances. A lack of pace contributes to this plodding and lumbering approach in midfield.

5) We Are Still Missing a Proper Striker

Gary Madine, Jamie Proctor, Keshi Anderson and Zach Clough.

Our striking options are quite varied, when you look at each in turn:

  • Madine - strong, good in the air
  • Proctor - decent feet
  • Anderson - lightning fast
  • Clough - nippy and a true finisher

All good in their own way. None of them are, however, what I'd term a proper striker. I don't want to make this an Adam Le Fondre love-in, but if we had a pure finisher in the mould of him, or Klasnic, or John McGinlay then we would fly out of this division.

Each has their faults:

  • Clough is a fantastic footballer, but his stature and the way that he appears to pick up injuries is a concern.
  • Anderson is very raw and inexperienced. His strength in his feet and I hope we can help him realise the potential he has.
  • Proctor is hard-working but appears shot-shy.
  • Madine is a proper lummox.

I wonder whether we will see another striker join in January. On present evidence, that could be the difference in League One.