I turned to my friend around the 60th minute and told him that this week I had opted to write the Man of the Match article; he laughed and suggested that I just give it to Joe Lolley. I must admit, I think that you’d be hard pressed to find a player more deserving of the award on the whole pitch, aside from maybe Lewis Grabban. Lolley tore us apart on that right flank all game long, took his goal really well, after Mark Little went for a wander, and showed what a gulf in class looks like in the flesh. But, alas, we’re a Bolton blog and talking about everything Wanderers is what we do, there’s no room for partisan opinions here so Lewis Grabban can go and dive somewhere else.
Ben Alnwick is one of only a few players who came out of last night with his pride intact, and that’s no mean feat for a keeper who conceded three at home. I really rate Alnwick, his shot stopping has always been excellent but he could always be a bit flappy. This year his distribution and decision-making have improved tenfold and in most situations I feel comfortable in his ability to save us. A bit of early pressure saw him confidently rush out to claim the ball a few times as it was dinked over or between our centre-halves. But he was completely helpless for their first goal, Lolley being afforded acres of space out wide was able to receive that ball unmarked and arrow a shot into the top corner, not many would have saved that. With Forest spending much of the second half camped on our 18-yard line it was obvious he’d soon be tested again. It wasn’t long until he was called into action as Lolley found some more space behind Mark Little and Alnwick had to get down quickly to stop a low shot creeping past him. Not much else he could do at this point except make the saves to try and keep us in the game and organise his defence as best he could.
All credit to him he kept us in it for as long as he could, as Grabban went down rather flamboyantly after a clumsy challenge from Mark Little he was called upon at 1-0 to save a penalty, in front of the away fans, and stop the game from running away from us. He did just that, getting down low to his left to parry that shot out for a corner. Following that we had our first bit of actual pressure in the entire game and for a short while it looked like we could get back into it. As it turned out it wasn’t to be at all, not long after that penalty save we got hit on the counter and before we knew what had hit us Grabban had dinked the ball over Alnwick and into the corner. For their 3rd, it was Lewis Grabban who fell rather theatrically again, winning himself a penalty. Most keepers struggle to save one penalty in a match so I don’t hold Alnwick accountable for not keeping out the 2nd, slotted down low into the corner it was a good pen that was the final nail in our coffin.
What matters now is how we respond on Saturday against a Hull side that have really struggled so far this campaign. They will come to the UniBol full of confidence that they can get something from us, especially after last night’s debacle. So we will need the likes of our better players from last night; Alnwick, Wheater, Hobbs, Donaldson and Vela to be at their best and for the rest of the side to step up. Whether Parky changes anything drastic will remain to be seen but at least we’ve got a solid keeper and spine to build on.
Do you agree with my decision or would you rather I gave it to no one at all? Leave a comment below or drop us a message on twitter. See you all on Saturday for what I hope is a game a bit more uplifting than last nights!