I’ve seen plenty of chatter on social media about Bolton Wanderers’ goalkeepers in recent weeks and months. At the start of the season and certainly last season there was plenty of debate who our number one was, but Ben Alnwick has made absolutely sure that the role is his with some stellar recent performances.
The latest was last night’s starring role in the 1-0 victory over Sunderland.
In a game virtually devoid of any quality from either side - particularly, it has to be said, from Bolton - Alnwick stepped up to deny the visitors every time they threatened to get back into the game.
First up, he did superbly well to stand up tall to Ashley Fletcher when the former Bolton youth product somehow found himself clean through on goal from a simple floated pass over the top. Alnwick forced the striker into a decision then pulled off a good two-handed save to push the ball behind.
Then he made a more routine save from former Manchester United man Patrick McNair, whose low shot was straight at the keeper.
Alnwick was back at it in the second half, doing really well to punch a dangerous delivery clear after Filipe Morais conceded a silly free-kick in a dangerous area.
But he saved his best for last. After a really loose ball from Mark Beevers went straight to a Sunderland player in our own box - did he mix up the fairly similar looking kits? - George Honeyman teed up Callum McManaman, whose shot looked destined to find the roof of the net. But Alnwick stayed big and got two hands to it to push the ball over the bar.
Then, with Sunderland pushing in injury time, Alnwick did superbly to come out and claim the ball with his defence creaking under the Sunderland pressure.
He may not have made as many saves as he pulled off at the weekend - I counted seven in the first 20 minutes there! - but he did remain alert and came good when it was needed in a vital game. And, with the defence in front of him again not really at its best, Alnwick’s role was absolutely crucial in sealing three points.
Here’s hoping Alnwick will maintain his excellent form to spearhead our bid to avoid relegation.