Wow. Just wow. In a million years, I didn't see that coming. Bolton Wanderers undoubtedly had their worst performance of the season in the first half. Against Phil Parkinson's old team we were outplayed and paid the price. The second half started much the same and yet a tactical shuffle resulted in our greatest come back of the season. It really was heart pounding stuff.
The team saw an enforced change with Jay Spearing banned. This meant Tom Thorpe could come in to the team. There is debate over the formation we started in, some media sources are saying we started with a back 4 whilst others who went to the game are saying we played in the 3-5-2 we've seen in recent weeks. Apart from that it was much the same line-up as last time out. Alex Perry made it on to the bench.
The game really started badly. Down 1-0 within 10 minutes and the second didn't take all that long to follow. We were camped in our own half, unable to play simple passes and were just generally blown away. Whilst Bradford certainly deserved their lead, both goals come by virtue of Ben Alnwick mistakes'. The keeper looked awful all afternoon after these mistakes; dropping crosses, missing balls and fluffing kicks.
The second half started much the same but Parky' changed things up with a switch in formation and the introduction of James Henry and Viv Solomon Otabor (copy and pasted). We sprang in to life and looked far more direct. Our first goal came through David Wheater and the second a header from Gary Madine.
But we're not here to report on the game (that's for the match report). We're here to react. With all the elation of pulling it back and disappointment of conceding 2 aside; what must be said is what great character is in this team and what a good manager we have. Much was made about Spearing being absent but today shows we have more characters in this team. You don't come back from scorelines like that, in games like that with a bunch of perennial losers. Some of this team were precisely that before Parkinson arrived and he has moulded this team in to something else. He also got his substitutions and tactical change spot on today. The obvious choice would have been to get Alnwick off but he kept his options open and brought off/on the right players. Perhaps the wrong call at the start but he sure as hell fixed it.
Another obvious problem is the ill fitting Adam Le Fondre in this team. For me he IS good enough to fit a team around. It would have been different if we were winning weekly but that seems a while ago now. I would love to see him alongside Long when he returns to fitness, up front with two out and out wingers (Henry and Viv). We have to find a new fit and what we're doing at the moment is leaving us dropping too many points.
So although we haven't won and face a sterner test next time against Sheffield Untied, this gives me hope for the season. We player so, so badly. Yet we came back and still managed a point. If that doesn't show we have the steel to challenge for the top spots in this league, I don't know what does.