A bit of the same old Bolton. Pre-game I was analysing the squad with a bit of optimism, we’d actually changed things up and gone a little positive at home. Parky had opted for a 3-5-2 with Dyer at LWB and a welcome return for Pawel on the right. Doidge partnered Donaldson up top in attack and Vela dropped into the middle following Lowe’s suspension. Wheater was also replaced by Beevers and Wilson, this was Beever’s first game since the loss to Boro’ back in September and his wasn’t the kind of performance that would have put him back into the first team long term. I must admit I was expecting us to take something from this game, while Wednesday had been terrible, I think we all were looking for the players to respond in a positive way and get at quite a poor Hull side early on. Parkinson especially must have been feeling the pressure, his change in formation reflected on his desire to get a win and actually play attacking football.
The game started quite cagily as you’d expect for two teams towards the bottom end of the table, Bolton were the brighter of the two sides though and looked comfortable on the ball and in possession, whilst admittedly not threatening Hull much. All it took was a slight lapse in concentration and Hull were ahead before we knew what had happened. A driven low ball was knocked into the box and after a dummy by Grosicki it evaded everyone. Pav was caught in two minds and did not track the run of Frazier Campbell, he was lurking on the 6 yard line and scuffed a shot towards goal that trickled in under the legs of Alnwick, 1-0. That was it, that was all it took and within a few minutes it could have been 2 but Campbell was his usual self and flashed his shot wide.
We grew into the game at least after this, Williams and Ozzie running at the Hull back line and working themselves into good positions. However, it was our finishing that let us down constantly throughout the game, we looked nervous and lacking in composure whenever we worked the ball into the box. Donaldson had both of our best chances in the first half but failed to hit the target each time. For the first the ball broke to Ozzie in the middle and after driving at the back line he slotted a lovely ball out left through their centre halves to Donaldson, who was admittedly forced to shoot first time on his weaker foot, dinked it over the bar. Doidge, who contributed very little otherwise in the first half, stole in to win the ball back in the middle and again found a good ball in behind Hull to put Donaldson away, but he flashed his shot on the turn into the side netting. Around this time the 300 or so Hull faithful began chanting ‘‘Adkins give us a wave’’, which reminded me of how disappointing this performance actually was. Aside from these fleeting moments of quality our main route back into the game seemed to be through a long ball to Donaldson, that would hopefully be knocked on for either Doidge or Oztumer. Beevers was especially guilty of aimless hoofs up to no-one in particular. Ozzie was one of the brighter sparks in the game, ran his socks off and was probably our only real creative outlet. He needs to work on his finishing though, some of our best chances fell to him and he only once managed to hit the target, with a tame shot straight at Marshall. For much of the game it was aimless long balls that resulted in us conceding possession, at least Ozzie is willing to bring the ball down and run at the opposition.
Second half we started without much impetus, I don’t know what was said by Parkinson but whatever it was it didn’t seem to inspire the players much. We finished the first half a lot better than we started the second, Hull largely kept us at arms length as we toiled and continuously hoofed the ball. Parkinson’s first big tactical stroke of genius was to take off Dyer for Buckley, Dyer had done very little all game but maybe that was due to a lack of service. On one occasion he did beat his full back and whipped in a decent ball but he didn’t do it often enough. While I had no problems with the sub I would have liked to have seen Magennis come on now also, as it was Parky waited until the 80th minute before bringing Josh on and then when he did he stuck him at RWB. I agree with attacking sentiment of sticking another striker on and that sub immediately coincided with our best period of the game, but Magennis would have been more effective through the middle and instead Mark Little a straight swap for Pav at RWB. Throughout the most of the second period we had the ball but created very little with it overall and Alnwick was left largely untested aside from a good save against Grosicki to keep the game with reach. By the time we did come alive, as it finally seemed to dawn on the players that they were about the lose, it was typical Bolton; too little too late. A flurry of chances and inviting crosses into the box put a lot of pressure on Hull but they were able to hold us off and far too easily take the ball downfield and into the corner to run down time. Our last decent chance in the game fell to Oztumer but again he slotted the ball just past the far post with Marshall easily beat had he managed to find the target.
Is this the end of the line for Parkinson? I’m honestly not sure. I thought pre-game that if we got trounced in the manner that we did against Forest then maybe it would be, but that a poor draw or a loss by a single goal wouldn’t be enough. He did react positively following the result midweek and on a different day (and if the players work on hitting the target) maybe we would have got something. But, again a recurring criticism, he is too slow to react to events going on in the game and constantly leaves his substitutions too late to make a real impact. Whether he goes will be a decision for the Anderson’s to make, but whether we are able to get someone in with enough quality to replace him is a different question altogether. As for the players there are a standout few from our defeat who can hold their heads up; Hobbs, Williams, Donaldson and Olkowski all had strong performances. Jack Hobbs looked as imperious as he has in recent weeks but maybe that was just because of the performances of Beevers and Wilson. Beevers in particular made a few good challenges and headers but looked a bit Bambi on ice at times and constantly contrives to concede possession by lumping it down field. Next Friday we’re away at Villa and they have been struggling under Dean Ashton, I imagine Parky will look to set up defensively again away from home but we could snatch a result if we take the chances we create. Or maybe i’m just being optimistic again.