In a result that literally everyone saw coming, a toothless Wanderers side were absolutely hammered by playoff-chasing Derby County. The least the travelling support deserved was effort, but we were instead treated to another gutless and disorganised performance.
My reaction to the starting eleven was somewhat subdued, with the joy brought by Luca Connell’s presence matched with despair at the inclusion of...well literally most of those around him. No prizes for guessing names.
For the opening stages of the game Bolton actually looked as though they may try to play football, with the central midfield and full backs in particular looking tidy in possession at least. However even during this period we never looked like scoring. Luca Connell ventured on a mazy run on 13 minutes only to find his options limited, and the opportunity quickly disappeared. But for a poor touch from Tom Lawrence the home side would have scored from their immediate counter with a goal that would have looked all too familiar this season. Both Taylor and Connolly were leaving acres of space in behind, and the left foot of Bradley Johnson almost found its targeted runner on more than one occasion.
Alas, 20,000+ Rams supporters would not have to wait long.
A hopeful diving header from Donaldson was to be Bolton’s only ‘chance’ of the first half, and although Remi Matthews pulled off some smart saves to deny both Lawrence and Bryson, the latter was to smash Derby ahead on 37 minutes. As has often been the case, the first goal broke any sense of resistance and the result was all but confirmed before the break as the Bolton midfield allowed the impressive Mason Mount all the time in the world to assess his options before a neat one-two with Waghorn and a sweeping finish which sent many away fans in for their half-time pint. And boy did we need one.
It was far too easy.
The less said about the second half the better. Connell was fouled several times when looking bright, and Mark Little looked determined to make a difference when he came on. Other than that, we may has well have not turned up. The pace and movement of Derby’s midfield in comparison to our own whilst playing keep-ball created the illusion that they had at least two extra players, and it really did look like they could simply decide when to score. This was summed up by their third goal. Nodded in by Mason Mount (I’m still not sure how it reached him) after Tom Lawrence had fallen over whilst crossing the ball, Lawrence then smirked and nodded towards the fans as if to say ‘yes, it really is that easy’. Acres of space was afforded to the young Chelsea loanee once more to allow him to complete his hat-trick, in a move which really summed up the difference between the two teams not only in class but also in desire to win.
If it wasn’t for Remi Matthews and some wasteful finishing from Waghorn and Craig Bryson, it could have been a lot worse.
On a day which we knew could all but confirm relegation, we looked absolutely hopeless, leaderless, and just completely devoid of passion or direction. After the game I found I had actually forgotten what colour kit we had just played in, as there was just nothing to recall about the game whatsoever.
I’m struggling to even think we can do OK in League 1. Either way, that’s where we’re headed.