Whilst the progressive impact of Storm Brian made the last 30 minutes an irrelevance, the 5 things from this match was obvious to all.
- They’re back. Whilst Wheats rightly takes the plaudits from most for MOTM, it was great to see Beavers back up to speed and finally showing he can compete at this level. Both were brilliant, especially in the second half when the bad weather and waves of QPR attack’s were really putting the pressure on. For me, Wheater shades it simply due to his unerring ability to be in the right place at the right time. However, both got stuck in, making a number of match saving tackles, blocks or headers to frustrate QPR. As an aside, Little should have a mention for a superb first half performance although he faded in the second.
- Wingers. All our wingers are back from injury, with perhaps, only Buckley not ready to start. So why the persistent use of a striker, Armstrong, out on the wing? Going forward, Adam had one of his better games. Have to say though that his namesake, Adam Le Fondre, would’ve buried that first half chance when Armstrong did the hard work but missed with just the keeper to beat. The problem on the left was that Armstrong didn’t provide any cover to Taylor, who was under real pressure. This was quickly pounced upon by QPR, with the hugely impressive Luke Freedman switching flanks to take advantage. For me, if Parky wants to play two strikers up front, then play a formation to accommodate them. Yesterdays 4-2-3-1 come 4-4-1-1 screamed out for two wingers, so why doesn’t he play two wingers from the start?
- Alnwick’s distribution. This isn’t a pop at Alnwick himself. In fact, given the conditions and the fact that Madine was always surrounded by three QPR players for each goal kick, it was impressive that Alnwick’s kicks found Madine at all. What really pissed me off was the obvious tactic of Alnwick having to boot it up the field whenever he got the ball. I started counting the players in the area that Alnwick was kicking to and it ranged from one (Madine) to three Whites against five to eight from QPR. No surprise then that QPR quickly recovered possession and setup their next attack. The main weakness of this tactic is that it doesn’t allow Bolton to attack as a team, gifts the ball to the opposition and contributes to our poor possession stats. As to the advantage of this tactic, I have no idea, so please let me know in the comments... Otherwise what on earth has happened to the art of a throw out and building an attack from the back. Bring back Jussi to do the coaching I reckon.
- Possession. The reason QPR scored wasn’t because they’re a good team, because they’re not, but because we gave them acres of room in midfield to build from. It was all one way traffic after half time. Can’t blame the weather, because QPR had to play in it as well. For some reason, maybe it’s a confidence thing, the team conceded midfield to QPR and defended deep. Way, way too deep. The problem was that every single time a Bolton player, other than Alnwick, got the ball, they booted/headed it out, straight back to the opposition. If we started to defend in midfield, like we did for most of the first half, then not only would we have given QPR no space but when our defenders cleared, they’d have somebody to aim at. Apparently, this is something Parky mentioned in his post match interview. He needs to get it sorted because we needed three points on Saturday. Whilst a draw is better than nothing, that’s an opportunity missed to catch up with the teams above.
- The pitch. Storm Brian really was a naughty boy. Pretty much as soon as the game started, it started to rain. Then it poured, torrentially. However, it wasn’t really until the last 30 minutes that it became waterlogged. Even then, there was none of the Burnden Park style ankle deep mud bath. With our small squad, Parky must’ve been hugely relieved to have got through that game without yet another long term injury. So a big thank you to groundsman Tom Charnley and his team for that.