After Bolton Wanderers came from behind to draw for the second time in five days and earn a third successive away draw, we look at five key takeaways from our visit to Hillsborough.
1. Another positive away day
For the second time in a week, Wanderers could and perhaps should have won away from home. Having won one of their last 43 away games in The Championship it’s clear to see where our problem lies - for some reason we just can’t win away. But the performances against Reading in midweek and on Saturday at Sheffield Wednesday showed we may well be beginning to turn a corner.
Far from the negative, backs to the wall defiance shown in the 0-0 draw at Norwich City, Wanderers again did enough to win at Hillsborough. Not only did we show a bit more attacking threat, we also created chances to win it - most notably Will Buckley’s header being well saved by Joe Wildsmith.
2. Old boy Wilbs makes his mark
Having seen the striker go without a goal in 22 appearances for the club, I don’t think fans were too out of line in questioning Aaron Wilbraham’s continued bit-part involvement in games. However, that doesn’t warrant booing your own player as he comes onto the pitch - let’s be very clear, that should never happen.
But it was great to see Wilbraham, aka Wilbrahimovic, finally pop up with his first goal for the club, and to make it one that could prove absolutely vital does potentially give him a special place in our hearts. It was a brilliant headed finish by the big striker, from a superb Filipe Morais cross, to bring an end to his year-long wait for a goal.
In so doing, the forward became the oldest player to score for Bolton in 89 years at 38 years and 14 days - surpassing legendary figures like Emile Heskey, Eidur Gudjohnsen, Gudni Bergsson, Gary Speed and Fernando Hierro. Mad right?
With his equaliser at Sheffield Wednesday, Aaron Wilbraham became the oldest player to score for @OfficialBWFC in 89 years, and 2nd to Ted Vizard in the club's all-time list.#BWFC #SWFC pic.twitter.com/Z2mUmi8YoT— BWFC Stats (@bwfcstats) March 12, 2018
3. Defensive improvement
After looking shaky at best at times this season, Bolton have finally started to show the sort of defensive resilience that we saw for most of last season in League One. The displays of Reece Burke and Mark Beevers at Hillsborough were both Man of the Match worthy against a giant strikeforce, with the former getting our eventual vote. A blip against Preston North End aside, we seem to be seeing better defensive displays that have led us to one defeat in the last five games, and we’ll certainly require one against an in-form Aston Villa side next weekend.
4. A worryingly long wait for a win
Having said all that, Bolton now have just one victory from their last eight outings and have won just twice in 11 league games since beating Hull on New Year’s Day. We’ve had chances to win games, notably at both Reading and Wednesday last week, and we need to start turning the chances we’re creating into goals. Both Adam Le Fondre and Will Buckley missed sitters to give us the lead at Reading, which could prove really costly in the long run.
5. Survival another small step closer
Despite that, and say it quietly, survival could actually happen. Another round of defeats for our fellow strugglers combined with another point on the road sees Bolton now six points clear of the relegation zone. With nine games to go, two tough tests up next at home to Villa then away to Leeds United aren’t the major priorities, but the following fixtures at home to Birmingham and Millwall then trips to Burton Albion and Barnsley will likely make or break our season. If we beat Birmingham, Burton and Barnsley then I think we’re basically safe.