I think we all hoped it would happen but I think it’s fair to say that very few actually believed it would actually come to fruition. Bolton Wanderers conquered the almighty Derby that dominated Manchester United in the Energy Drink Cup. They’re managed by Frank Lampard and everything, just in case that hasn’t been mentioned. Considering both teams form, it seemed destined Bolton were set for a drubbing. We aren’t one to follow a script though. Improvising a coming away with a win, the players did themselves proud and maybe our trajectory isn’t as bleak as it seemed against QPR.
Here are the Player Ratings:
Remi Matthews - 7.5
Unexpectedly coming into the squad with no Ben Alnwick in sight, who had been in terrific form, Remi Matthews showed us that we don’t have to worry about him filling Alnwick’s boots. While his workload was light in terms of saves, the late stop with his legs in the 2nd half being the only notable save, he showed his potential in other ways with quick distribution and composure when coming out to claim the ball from chasing Derby forwards. Not to mention that lovely kick for Buckley to set up the goal was marvellous. While I hope Alnwick’s injury isn’t serious, if Matthews keeps this up, he has every chance to maintain his place upon Ben’s return.
Pawel Olkowski - 7.0
Pawel is still the Championship’s best right back by a country mile. While he’s not been as effective as his early form in recent games, he still did his job and did well. Linking well with Noone down the right and playing his part in carrying the ball forward and preventing Derby from getting their favoured crosses into the box. However, his positioning can still be suspect and let Derby in behind a bit too much at points for my liking. Still love him though.
David Wheater - 7.5
Captain’s performance from the Chin Wonder. Calm on the ball and putting a lot of work in the air and blocking Derby attempts on goal, Wheater is demonstrating why he shouldn’t have been dropped against Ipswich. His new found partnership with the next man also seems to have given him confidence to pass on the ground more to get attacks going. Keep it up Dave.
Jack Hobbs - 8.5
Please don’t get injured this season Jack. That must be the prayers of many Bolton fans because once again, Hobbs showed his undeniable class at the heart of the defence. I lost count of how many times he put his body on the line to prevent Derby from having a serious threat to our goal. He can do it all. Last ditch tackles, powerful headers, massive clearances and most importantly of all get rid of it on the ground calmly yet quickly to start a counter-attack. Take notes Beevers.
Jonathan Grounds - 7.5
Steve Parkin had his pre-match point proven that Bolton fans should lay off Grounds a bit. It truly seems Grounds is getting up to speed with the demands of Championship football again and it was a sight to see after some dire performances at the beginning of his Bolton career. Gone were the silly passes, gone were the dangerous mis-kicks and in came the collected, hard-working left-back Birmingham fans promised we’d signed. He did a great job down that left hand side containing Derby and I’m hoping I can now be a little lest frustrated with his inclusion on the team sheet if he keeps that consistent.
Craig Noone - 7.5
Craig Noone has already given us the moment of the season. His headed goal and immediately rushing off to hug his good friend, Stephen Darby was truly a sight to behold. If that didn’t, at the very least, make you smile then there’s no hope for you being a good person. Regarding the rest of the game though, Noone as per usual worked incredibly hard and did his best keeping any attacking momentum going down that right flank. Had a little trouble beating their left-back at points but kept making himself a nuisance throughout the game before his substitution.
Joe Williams - 6.0
Williams had a very two-faced game today. What I mean by that is that his defending was it’s standard rugged self and he showed the bite we’ve come to expect from him. He did well covering the back line despite giving away one or two unnecessary fouls. Going forward though, that’s probably the most wasteful performance I’ve seen all season. I counted at least 5 wasted passes forward that let Derby have possession again. Not to mention his lack of passing when he could have sent Doidge through to seal the game completely. Frustrating game for Joe.
Jason Lowe - 8.0
This is more like the Jason Lowe I saw in the first few games of the season. He was bullish in his tackling and he wasn’t chasing shadows like in the previous games. It was refreshing to see him not be as wasteful or halt the momentum when we were trying to attack. He was more willing to hit it forward and refused to give Derby any more possession than they already had. I want this handsome shithouse back for good over the course of the season.
Will Buckley - 8.0
Whatever they put in Buckley’s drink, give him more of it. After his early bad decision when he was clean through on goal, Buckley recovered to put in a wonderful performance down the left wing. His running was a lot more effective as he ran into areas where he gave himself the space to create some magic, beating their right back on a few occasions and whipping in plenty of crosses. Not to mention his tireless work ethic supporting Grounds in defence. He’s staking his place to start regularly down that side.
Erhun Oztumer - 7.5
Ozzie played the game that justified why Bolton fans were clamouring for his inclusion. His positional awareness in that attacking midfield space is unmatched in our squad. He was a dangerous man to Derby as whenever he had the ball, he ran at them using his small demeanour to keep the ball glued to his feet. If the referee wasn’t such a bum, he’d have more opportunity to demonstrate his set-piece prowess as well, with Derby having to knock him down to stop him. He also ran his socks off showing he’s more than a deadly passer and long shot specialist.
Josh Magennis - 7.5
I’m pretty certain Magennis won every header that he went up for. Though his flick-ons still aren’t the most accurate his battling of Keogh and Tomori up front must have had them wanting to try and snap him in half. Carson even tried to get him sent off by feigning injury because he was bullying their back line that much. It must be nice for Ozzie to know that he can have Josh up front to fight off every defender in the world so he can do his thing because Magennis will do that. Another tank-like performance.
Christian Doidge - 6.5
Did everything that he needed to do when replacing Magennis. Ran at the defence to tire them out and did a good job getting into space to try and keep the ball away from the increasingly desperate Derby. Should have maybe had a goal too were it not for Williams poor decision to shoot himself.
Gary O’Neil - 6.5
Apparently he can play right wing. You learn something new every day. Anyway, he also did what was asked, providing cover for Olkowski down the right and adding fresh legs and a calm persence to the defensive cause.
Josh Vela - N/A
Came on late just shore up the defence and add fresh legs in midfield towards the end.