Four points from two games against sides who I feel will be much closer to the top than the bottom of the Championship come May, so who can complain eh? Despite this Bolton may feel a touch rueful that they allowed a two-goal lead slip, though for long periods they were second best to a Bristol City side that played some excellent football.
Here’s how the lads rated.
Ben Alnwick: 7.5: Solid performance from Alnwick, made several good saves that you would probably expect him to make and had no chance for either goals. Commanded his area well and distribution was generally decent. Despite rumours of Stockdale coming in to challenge his position I’m comfortable with Alnwick as our first choice.
Pawel Olkowski: 7.0: Showed aggression and touches of class above the standard of his team mates and looks an improvement at right back. Would have been higher but, and perhaps I’m being harsh, I thought he was out of position and easily beaten for Bristol’s second. Provided a nice lay back for Magennis’s goal.
David Wheater: 7.0: Relishing the captain’s role and got his headers and blocks in. Will never be the quickest but stood up well to a nimble Bristol City attack. Some questions have to be asked over the first goal which went through the middle of Wheater and Beevers, even if it did seem offside. Caused havoc off a set piece for the first goal.
Mark Beevers: 6.0: Got some good headers and blocks in but struggled more than his defensive partner against the clever running of Bristol City. Was extremely poor in possession.
Andy Taylor: 7.5: Despite talk of the need for a new left back, the veteran Teesider isn’t giving his first team spot away without a fight. Tenacious in the tackle and rarely beaten against a tricky customer in Eliasson.
Jason Lowe: 7.0: Looked overwhelmed for the first twenty minutes but grew into the game and gradually stemmed the flow of the Bristol City runners from midfield. Tireless worker in front of the back four and has settled well.
Luke Murphy: 5.5: Worked hard but struggled to affect the game against a very mobile Bristol City midfield. Lack of familiarity with teammates showed, but that will get better with time. Will have better days.
Josh Vela: 6.5: Looked overrun for much of the first half but grew into the game as it went on. Could have done better when gifted the ball at the edge of the Bristol penalty area, but his tame effort was easily blocked. Never stopped running and linked up better with Olkowski and Noone in the second half. Set piece delivery was on point again as Buckley benefitted. Not really a criticism of Vela but he often seems to press by himself to little avail, either Bolton should press as a team or no one presses, needs addressing.
Craig Noone: 6.5 (first half 5 second half 8): It’s no secret I prefer Ameobi to the scurrying scouser on the right of midfield, and after an anonymous first half I was wondering whether Mark Little could do a shift of right midfield for the second half. However, Noone proved me wrong in the second half both offensively and defensively. His teasing ball forced the corner for the first goal and he worked tirelessly getting back behind the ball and got some key blocks in. Maybe telling that the second goal went in immediately after he was withdrawn.
Will Buckley: 6.0: Grabbed himself a goal and worked back to help his full back, which PP clearly values. Didn’t offer much threat down the left-hand side and hard to see him causing any full back worth his salt real problems. Hoping to see Yan Wildschut unleashed in some home games soon.
Josh Magennis: 8.0: There was something very SKD about the way Magennis battled against the centre backs (and the referee) against Bristol, winning his fair share and bringing others into play well. Took his goal very clinically as well. Could be a fans favourite and so far, fulfilling my prediction of him being our star signing. He is doing a great job of easing the disappointment of missing out on signing Joe Garner on deadline day.
Gary O’Neil: 5.0: Didn’t get up to the pace of the game and get his foot on the ball like against WBA. I feel he made a poor decision with the decision to try and find a pass when Bolton were struggling to get back into position, rather than simply putting the ball into the corner. A poor call from an experienced player in my opinion.
Yan Wildschut: 5.0: Bolton were mostly on the back foot when he came on and didn’t manage to get into the game.
Adam Le Fondre: N/A: Screwed a late chance wide where he might have done better. Hopefully Parky can get him into the team to benefit from Magennis’s presence.
Match Officials: 1: I don’t want to go all Mark Hughes by blaming officials, but if I see John Brooks and his officials back at the University of Bolton stadium ever again it will be far too soon. It felt to me like John Brooks had decided that Bolton were aggressive bruisers who he was going to stop playing. Josh Magennis often had two players hauling at his shirt, but Mr Brooks consistently decided there was no infringement by a Bristol player and even punishing Magennis at times. Time and again he penalised Bolton players for clean looking challenges and was happy to book Bolton players at the first opportunity. The performance was topped off with the first Bristol City goal looking offside, with the linesman being about ten yards behind play and making a pathetic effort to scurry up the line to convince that he was up with play, desperately poor officiating. They get a point for spotting a clear dive by Eliasson to try and win a penalty.