On a night where only the result mattered, Bolton Wanderers dug deep to secure a vital win against a resilient Rochdale managed by the dogged Boltonian Keith Hill. Mark Beevers scrambled winner, on a night where their rivals faltered, brought Bolton within touching distance of the automatic promotion pages.
It’s always with far more pleasure that we can look into individual performances after a victory and we will look into the singular contributions to a vital Bolton win.
For myself, someone who I am admittedly quick to criticise is David Wheater. I make no apologies that I feel that Wheater, should be open to criticism given his association with our decline and unlike others I am not quick to forget that after a few clean sheets.
On Tuesday night however Wheater was great, on an evening where his partner Mark Beevers wasn’t at his usual consistent level. Rochdale’s forwards, understandably hamstrung by their narrow system, couldn’t get a sniff and any time they looked to move the ball beyond the Wanderers back three, Wheater was there to clear the danger.
What I like to see in defenders is the ability to assess risk and Wheater demonstrated that brilliantly against Rochdale. As much as Wheater was looking to consolidate possession and hit Madine with the diagonal, he would clear the danger and not offer Rochdale anything as the away side looked to feed of scraps.
Another good performance was that of forward Gary Madine who is becoming better every week as he develops into Phil Parkinson’s target man. You can see the work that Madine has been putting in on the training ground as he looks fitter, his touch is better and most importantly he is offloading the ball effectively.
Of course he could contribute more goals but let’s be clear, he is doing an important job very well. He will always have his critics and if we had a better budget I am sure there would be other options out there but Phil Parkinson has turned Gary Madine into an effective player for Bolton Wanderers.
The player who proabably is profiting most from Madine’s form is my Man of the Match from Tuesday night and that is new signing Felipe Morais. Morais has really taken well to the Right Wing Back position despite anyone with eyes being able to see his is not a natural defender. His lack of defensive ability has been propped by good old fashioned hard work and support from Jay Spearing.
The real contributions from Morais come from his exemplary wing play. The former Bradford man gets the ball into the box and is always available to receive the ball from Gary Madine. It suits Bolton’s style to the ground as Madine will attack anything put into the penalty area and Adam le Fondre in time will be feeding off the scraps.
Bolton have changed their style since the departure of Zach Clough, but we are by no means weaker.