After a dire and depressing display and defeat in Bolton’s vital relegation dog fight fixture, it was tempting to declare that no player in a white shirt really deserved to come away with any praise. However, time can heal many wounds and a day or two later my frustration has slowly dissipated, allowing me to concede that one or two players didn’t embarrass themselves totally.
Derik Osede made some timely interceptions and covered space in behind the full backs well (though Marc Iles strongly disagrees) and Sammy Ameobi kept trying to be creative despite being surrounded by three players at all times. Despite this, Adam Le Fondre gets my POTM for simple effort in the face of adversity and unsuitable tactics.
Alfie barely got a sniff all game, but that wasn’t for the lack of trying. Being charged to score goals in a team that lined up with two defensive minded full backs, three midfielders who lack the passing ability to open up a reasonably organised defence and an out of sorts left winger, is a thankless task.
Alfie intelligently used his entire 5’9” frame to battle manfully and at least win some long balls against two towering centre backs, though his layoffs were often duly wasted by those around him. His sheer desire almost lead to a ball or two breaking for him in the area, but it wasn’t to be. One may ponder that if the first half gilt edged chance had found ALF’s, rather than Will Buckley’s head, we may have been talking about a hard fought 1-0 victory rather than the dire defeat.
If Bolton can provide any half decent service to go with ALF’s movement and desire, this will result in goals, though at the moment that seems monumental if. Only fielding two players who look like being a threat to the opposition defence results in Bolton being very easy and predictable to defend against. Though Parky is somewhat hamstrung by his personnel, he can call upon the likes of Clough, Little, Noone and Robinson who can all threaten wide and in behind defences, perhaps stretching a defence enough to provide the vital space for Alfie to expose and grab a goal.
Bolton desperately need Alfie to keep his chin up and keep getting into goalscoring positions, despite the lack of an quality service. In the words of Troy Deeney, Parky do you have the cojones to release some of your defensive shackles and give Alfie the chance to do what he does best?