In what was a poor game by recent standards Bolton Wanderers lost against a team that had only managed one win in their opening 6 fixtures.
Bolton had a changed line up following the international break. Ben Alnwick was in goal with Pawel Olkowski, Mark Beevers, David Wheaters and Jonathan Grounds in defence. Jason Lowe, Gary O’Neil and Josh Williams made up our central midfield; flanked by Sammy Ameobi and Craig Noone. Big money signing, Christian Doidge made his debut for the unfit, Josh Magennis.
The game started evenly, both teams seemingly rusty following the international break. Wanderers failed to look like the side that had such a good start to the season however and it was to be QPR who would draw first blood. The defence culpable for an easy ‘route one’ style goal on 26 minutes.
They scored a second on 56 minutes which left Bolton deflated. QPR had an easy ride for a large chunk of the match as Bolton failed to press or threaten. Substitute, Josh Magennis would score a driven free kick with 20 minutes to go. It was but a consolation as the match finished 1-2 to the visitors.
The fact we still managed to score despite playing badly is a source for some optimism. We have a bench capable of changing games now and this is long overdue. That said the negatives of this match far outweighed the positives.
Jonathan Grounds had a torrid day. Had Taylor been fit and started we might have been looking at 1 point or even 3, such was the effect of Grounds’ performance. QPR exclusively attacked down our left side having sensed the vulnerability. Even the basics really seemed to trouble the Birmingham City loanee. I’d be looking at all options so we needn’t rely on starting Grounds again until he can prove in training he deserves a second crack. It could be that we give Mark Little or Mark Wilson a go there or that we try U23 LB, Joe Muscatt. Regardless of the solution action needs taking. It could also be time to look at the rest of the defence. We conceded 2 against Preston North End, 3 against Sheffield United and 2 here. The Wheaters-Beevers partnership needs to be assessed especially given the options of Wilson and Hobbs on the bench.
It was also interesting to see Wanderers switch to a 442 when after we went 0-2 down. I must say I really think this formation suits the squad available better than 4231. 2 big men up front in Doidge and Magennis would cause all sorts of problems. We’d still have wingers to supply them and a firm centre with a decent selection of starters. Certainly some food for thought there.
On to the next game. COYWM