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Man of the Match: Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Nottingham Forest - Aaron Wilbraham

From unpopular starter to cult hero in 90 minutes

Bolton Wanderers v Huddersfield Town - The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

I along with so many others were understandably baffled by the inclusion of Aaron Wilbraham in the starting 11. Save for the late Hillsborough equaliser, the veteran striker had failed to produce anything of note in a Bolton shirt all season. While his inclusion makes sense for the style of play we employ now, being our only available target man up front, it seemed counter-productive to the more prolific Le Fondre, who dropped to the bench. We were promised an attacking team by ‘King’ Ken so this seemed in complete contrast with what was promised. How was the 38 year old supposed to bring the result that would guarantee our safety?

By putting in a performance that would put him in Bolton folklore for the next few decades. He displayed a performance that was the complete opposite to what we as fans had come to expect from ‘Albi’ as the boys behind the scenes call him. He ran the Forest defence ragged. He won so many lofted balls and kept the positive attacking play moving by using his experience to get in great positions to make up for his slower pace. He leapt for every header with aplomb and that head eventually secured a historical survival for our struggling club.

He was sensational on Sunday. He thoroughly deserved the ovation he received from the fans flooding the pitch. After watching the interview below, I honestly think it couldn’t have happened to a nicer man. He seems humble yet confident and has rightly earned all the praise Parky and the boys have showered on him. Do I care that he missed 3 or 4 chances before he scored? Do I hell. Let’s not be negative about Wilbs anymore. He should be immortalised as a Bolton hero now.