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Player Ratings: Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Nottingham Forest

What a performance. What a comeback. What a day. 

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A determined performance from the off, every single player gave everything they had and the result was nothing short of what they deserved. The belief and desire to come back from 2-1 down with five minutes to go was something Wanderers’ fans haven’t seen on the pitch all that regularly. The result has gone down in BWFC history and rightly so, every single one of them should be proud of their achievement.

Ben Alnwick – 7.5

Unfortunately picked up an injury before half time, but the Wanderers’ player of the season put in a sturdy performance for the opening 45 minutes before having to withdraw at the break.

Mark Little – 8.0

Maybe at fault for Forest’s opener, but the strike was of some quality so it is difficult to pin the blame on a defender when the opposition score from all of 25 yards. His pace and drive with the ball is something irreplaceable when Little isn’t in the starting XI. Perhaps unfairly he lost his place after his dismissal against QPR and struggled to return to the side, but with him providing width and an extra dimension to attack, we look a much stronger team when he is in it.

David Wheater – 9.0

Answered his critics. His defensive experience was paramount to deal with the pace of Brereton in the Forest attacking line. Making a number of crucial tackles and grappling to win lofted balls, he played with his heart on his sleeve. He waited 13 months since his last Wanderers goal and I can guarantee he wouldn’t have changed it for the world. Thanks to his Instagram sessions, it is clear how much he loves this club. Sign on the dotted line, Wheatz!

Mark Beevers – 8.5

He saved his best performance till last. Defended superbly against a very determined and fast Forest attacking line. Won his aerial battles and scrapped for everything. Brereton looked as if he was trying to undress Beevers when jostling for the ball, but Beevers didn’t put a foot wrong.

Antonee Robinson – 8.5

What an engine and what a heart this lad has. Despite being a loanee, Jedi has shown exactly how much he loves this club. He gave his all and never stopped, up and down the left flank. His link up play with Vela & Morais was excellent. I hope we manage to get hold of him for another season, the sky is the limit for the young Evertonian.

Karl Henry – 8.5

Consistent and reliable. In the nicest way possible, what a horrible footballer. Does everything that no one else wants to do, and does it better than anyone. Gets under the skin of the opposition, and is the fighter that Wanderers lacked at the start of the year. Won plenty of battles in the middle and ensured Bridcutt had to play 80+ minutes with a yellow card after kicking out after a typical Henry-esque challenge.

Darren Pratley – 8.0

Another determined and passionate performance from the Wanderers skipper. Gave his all and battled for the team. His post-match interview showed just how much he cares about the club and the fans. Will he stay? Time will tell, his rousing applause and the appreciation of the supporters when he was substituted suggests he may be moving on, but we will soon see.

Josh Vela – 8.5

His best performance for a long time. Wears his heart on his sleeve and never stops running. Tracked down every single back pass and chased the Forest defence like a starving dog. His social media antics and his Instagram cameos with his partner in crime, David Wheater, shows how much he loves this club. Josh, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re still out enjoying yourself. More of the same next season!

Filipe Morais – 8.5

If there was ever a man to love football, this is him. His leadership is something I have written about before. Morais continuously brings his peers up and has a fantastic rapport with the Wanderers fans. His set-pieces and deliveries into the box were second to none, consistently finding Wilbraham in the Forest box. Fil, sign on the dotted line.

Sammy Ameobi 7.5

Much better than his performances against Barnsley and Burton, and showed glimpses of excellence. Perhaps did too much at times and keeping hold of the ball for too long in parts, but Sammy carried on. One of the only players who can get the ball and conjure up some magic out of nothing.

Aaron Wilbraham – 9.5

Where do I start? There aren’t enough adjectives to describe him. Gone down in Bolton Wanderers history and rightly so, grabbed the vital winner, but more impressing, his all round game was excellent. Can clearly still do a job, at 38-years-old he played like someone half his age; without the speed. Albi lead the line fantastically well and deserves to be at this club till he hangs up his boots, he is clearly a great role model to younger players and I feel he has a lot to share with Connor Hall and the young strikers at the club. Thank you, Aaron. You gave 18,500 people a memory to last a lifetime.

Substitutes

Mark Howard – 7.5

Nice to see Howard get some minutes, despite it being through an injury to Alnwick. His kicking and distribution was spectacular, finding a Wanderers shirt with almost every kick forward. The number 33 couldn’t do anything about either goal, but didn’t let his head drop and made a wonderful double save to keep us in the division.

Adam Le Fondre – 9.5

What a hero. It was written in the stars wasn’t it. He, like Morais, bloody loves football. He seemingly didn’t moan or let his head drop after being pipped to a starting spot by Albi, but did he make an impact when he came on. Opening the scoring and assisting the other two, Alfie was absolutely sensational. He loves this football club, and loves the supporters, his celebrations in front of his family, when he opened the scoring was a memory etched in my brain to last forever. It just had to be him that made that crucial difference. What a player.

Craig Noone – 8.0

Craig Noone is one of the most passionate players I have seen pull on a Wanderers shirt in years. I was lucky enough to witness Noone warming up at the side of the pitch during the second half, he motivated the side and urged the players on. I don’t think we have seen everything that he can offer us yet, but I am optimistic for the new season and that Craig will be a vital member of the Wanderers team come next term.

Other Honourable Mentions

Phil Parkinson – 10.0

Forget the negative football over recent weeks. Forget the negative results. Forget everything. Who cares if we play ‘hoof’ football? Would you rather win playing a direct style, or lose playing attractive football? This is a results business, and we have done enough. Parky and his team have performed a minor miracle with the resources we have had this season. I sincerely hope that he is still in the technical area at the start of next season, why shouldn’t he be? With some financial backing, there is no doubt in my mind that he can improve us. Give him the time and let him build this club as he wishes. His gamble to play Wilbraham over Le Fondre was a stroke of genius, and his substitutions worked in the best way they could. His face at full time was full of pride and he mirrored the emotion that every Wanderers fan had at that moment. In Parky we trust.

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Wanderers’ Fans – 10.0

The greatest atmosphere I have ever seen at the Macron. Backed the team from the off and there was a belief that The Great Escape was possible. Even at 1-2, there was still some belief that it was possible. The fans have had a lot of stick, over recent weeks, but that was a joy to be a part of. The celebrations were so much better than last year, grown men were in tears and strangers were embracing in the middle of the pitch. What a group of fans, what a club!