1) They weren’t bad were they
I think a good place to start is to politely nod our head at our competition. I know the purists of the game are unhappy at the prospect of reserve our youth teams playing against other professional sides, but I think that is a debate for another day. What I will say though is that I thought this Manchester City side were very competitive and is no surprise they topped the group. They controlled large parts of the game, particularly in the first half and showed real bravery in possession, not only maintaining possession but also moving forward with purpose.
The short goal kicks (even with the passion in the ‘keepers hands) was a stroke of genius, it brought Bolton’s midfield out of the centre of the pitch and once 4/5 short passes were made, City were able to break in numbers. We’d be mindful to learn our lessons as other sides might punish us next time.
2) Taking Things Seriously
I know the party line is that we can and will stay up but let’s be honest here, there’s a good chance we might be sealed to our fate earlier than we would like this season, particularly with the threat of further punishment from our mates over at the EFL. This tournament allows us to try inject real positivity into this season. Not only is winning games a habit, there is a genuinely good prize on offer, not just in terms of prize money for the club (increased since the introduction of the U21’s) but also a day out at Wembley. Take a moment to think, after everything we have been through, just how go that would be. I’m glad this has been recognised by Keith Hill and David Flitcroft and hopefully the result of the Rochdale and Bradford City game can go our way and we can move on in the tournament.
3) THIERRY HEN – EFFING – REY
Chris O’Grady was given the opportunity to lead the line following the departure of Daryl Murphy and I think he took his chance well. I was particularly impressed with his important second goal and Bolton’s third. O’Grady recognised the space afforded to him and calmly put the ball away. I must admit it has been a while I’ve seen a Wanderers player take a confident touch in the penalty area before slotting home. Hopefully it is the first of many.
4) Zouma King
I couldn’t be more on the fence than I am with Bolton’s French defender. Like most Bolton fans, I am taken in by his commitment levels and the sense of real enjoyment you get from the way he plays the game. I also see the real athlete the air, the leap he can generate and the pace he has to make what are becoming his trademark recovery tackles.
There are clearly things for Keith Hill & Co to work on but there is something there
5) Can’t Have Anything.
I’ve been proper impressed with Ali Crawford since he signed for us on ‘Manic Monday.’ He has genuine quality on the ball and has a real eye for goal that we were starting to benefit from. It’s a cruel injury, especially in the last minute of a cup game. At the time of writing there was no official confirmation but indications from the Wanderers manager Keith Hill was that it could be serious.
Fingers crossed it isn’t the case because that could be a terminal blow in Wanderers attempts to salvage their season.