Bolton Wanderers should have won yesterday, there’s no doubt about that.
23 shots to four, numerous goal-line clearances and at least two penalty appeals but alas, Southend United managed to hold us to a frustrating draw.
Less frustratingly, we’re still top of the league and can’t be caught until the next round of games. But what else can Bolton take from the game?
1) The new boys
Bolton gave three players their debut against Southend.
Keshi Anderson and James Henry came in from the start, whilst Sammy Ameobi came on as a substitute.
The transfer of Kaiyne Woolery to local minnows Wigan Athletic upset a lot of Bolton fans as they thought his raw pace would be sorely missed and to replace him with a player on a season-long loan seemed short-sighted.
However I’m confident, after seeing Anderson play, that we made the right decision. He has almost as much pace as Woolery and he just seems a much more complete footballer, less “raw” so to speak.
I tweeted words to a similar effect and it seems like quite a few people shared my sentiments:
Keshi Anderson looks a much more complete player than Woolery #bwfc— Tom Molloy (@TOMolloy) September 3, 2016
Onto James Henry, a player I feel could be the best player in the entire division.
I thought he looked bright in spots, sometimes he seemed to be trying to impress a bit too much and I don’t think we got him on the ball enough. I’m not sure the tip of the diamond suits him best but I still think we have a very useful player on our hands, and when we work out how to properly utilise him, we’ll be a force to be reckoned with.
He also almost scored a screamer with his first touch.
But the player who got me most excited yesterday was Ameobi, or Ameo-bae as I’m going to call him from now on.
He’s a player who’s taken some flak in the past for being inconsistent at Championship level. However in League One he could just be a game-changer.
He has pace, he’s unpredictable, he looks tricky and he just looked very dangerous in the short time he was on the pitch.
I think if he was introduced earlier, we would have gone on to win the game.
2) Target men
Gary Madine and Jamie Proctor.
Both tall strikers but both are so different in their style of play, so in that regard it’s nice to have options.
Gary Madine looks to have found his level and made a nuisance of himself throughout once again. He’ll always have a few fans on his back and perhaps should have done better in front of goal a couple of times but I’m happy with his contribution so far this season.
Jamie Proctor, on the other hand, isn’t as much a traditional ‘target man’ as the old washing machine. He’s better with his feet and tried to show this quite a few times, running with the ball and trying a couple of stepovers. However, for me, we looked less dangerous once Madine went off.
I do think he’s feeling his way to full fitness and this shows but for the system we’re currently playing, I think Madine edges it for me.
It’s hard not to let complacency creep into your game when you’re the Best Team in the World™ but on a number of occasions yesterday, this complacency could have cost us dear.
There was one occasion in particular, when David Wheater played a sloppy backpass back to Mark Howard. It was very under hit and Howard had to rush out to make a challenge on the onrushing striker.
If we want to stay at the top of this league, we need to keep concentration levels at 100% throughout.
4) Liam Trotter
Liam Trotter is such a strange player.
Looking at his build, he should be such a dominant player in the Yaya Toure sort of mould (although obviously a League One equivalent).
However more often than not, he leaves me frustrated. Trotter does have his good games and I’m not using him as a scapegoat by any means.
I’ve also gone on record as saying he’s a ‘big moment’ player, going unnoticed for large portions of games before popping up with a moment of brilliance.
For example, his ball to Proctor against Blackpool and the goals he’s popped up with in his time here.
Yesterday he seemed sloppy to me. His first touch wasn’t great, his passing wasn’t as good as it can be and I think with these new signings, he has a fight on his hand keeping a starting place.
5) Mark Howard’s kicking
Mark Howard didn’t really have much to do yesterday. Southend had one shot on target, which he had no chance with.
On the whole though, I feel like he’s a good shot stopper and I feel safer with him in between the sticks than I did with Ben Amos.
However his kicking could become a real issue.
Aside from the beautiful long ball he managed to play up to Keshi Anderson, his distribution was woeful.
He rarely seems to find the target man and often kicks it out for a throw-in or straight to a Southend player. It’s definitely something to work on.