I said it last week, but Bolton are well and truly back! In a week where the takeover was stalled by Laurence Bassini’s court injunction and tickets for this game only went on sale 24 hours beforehand, the madness was compounded by senior players refusing to play this match in a bid to protect themselves should the club go under. It looked for all the world that we were doomed.
Not on your life.
The hard work of Gavin McCann, Nicky Spooner and David Lee has ensured we have a backdrop of seriously talented, brave and quite frankly inspirational youngsters to call upon when they are needed and they played like heroes, riding their luck but filly deserving a share of the spoils against a strong Coventry side with seasoned pros and talented players.
I could not be prouder to be a Bolton fan and want to congratulate every player who took to the field, you will be forever remembered in the history books of this famous club.
Here are my player ratings:
Mathew Alexander 10
You read that right and anyone who was present has to agree with me. I admit openly that I was terrified on behalf of this young man, only 17 years old, going into this game and furious with both Remi Matthews and the usually reliable Ben Alnwick for putting him through what I expected to be a harrowing afternoon. Alexander proved me wrong, massively. He made 7 saves, two of which were stunning. He was much more commanding than his slight frame should have allowed him to be and the chants aimed towards him of “England’s Number 1” were more than merited. What a performance!
Harry Brockbank 9
O captain, my captain! This boy has some head on his shoulders with the maturity and calmness he showed to guide this group of youngsters particularly impressive. On the ball he looked assured and inventive whilst being strong in the air and the tackle. What impressed me the most, however, was watching him in the knowledge he could easily have left us in the summer yet chose to stay, unpaid, and play for his hometown club regardless. He got his reward for that loyalty with this result and it would be a brave man who would dare take his armband.
Liam Edwards 8
An improved performance than against Wycombe which demonstrated aerial prowess and, again, a knack for getting his body in the way. I like the way he looks to pass the ball before hoofing it, my word is it refreshing to see, and one always feels calm watching him. Regardless of who is brought in after any potential takeover, Edwards deserves his place in our team.
Yoan Zouma 7
After an imperious performance against Wycombe, the fan’s favourite showed his raw side in this game. Though I can remember some brilliant moments of defending I never felt confident with him going up for headers nor on the ball, however his pace and strength make him invaluable in a team of youngsters. He will have better days as he certainly has the talent, but he needs coaching to achieve his full potential.
Joe White 6.5
Another who didn’t quite live up to their performance at Wycombe, White faced a very tricky winger in Wesley Jobello whose pace and skill offered Coventry their most potent threat (though his knee-slide after his disallowed goal was one of the funniest things I have ever seen). White dealt with him as best he could, but the youngster was often beaten for pace and dwelt on the ball too long in dangerous areas. He looks a real prospect and will have learned a great deal from this game certainly.
James Weir 7
The elder statesman of the team aged 24, Weir was much better in the centre of midfield than he was on the wing in the previous game. He tackled hard, passed sensibly and used his experience, though it is marginal having only made 14 senior appearances in his career, to help his teammates. More of the same will do just nicely from Weir.
Sonny Graham 7
I didn’t notice him do much and I think that perhaps shows he did his job well. I do recall some impressive tackles and I can only see him improving if given more game time. He epitomised the world ‘solid’.
Callum King-Harmes 7.5
His name may be a pub but he’s too young to legally drink from one. That didn’t stop him from impressing as his constant running and pressing earned him many plaudits but also what appeared to be a knock which saw him replaced. Another who looks comfortable on the ball and knocks it around comfortably, I hope the injury is not too serious as he is another I want to see more of. The desire he showed was first-rate.
Dennis Politic 8
I love this guy. I have a penchant for big strikers like Madine, Davies and Giroud, but what I love even more is a winger with quick-feet and an arrogant swagger. Something about these kinds of players who find space in areas where there are none, who take shots from the halfway-line and who bully defenders with their physique gets me on the edge of my seat. Politic is this kind of player. He never shies away from tackles, he has the right foot of a mule and the kind of quick feet Silva’s Bernardo and David showcase every week for Man City. Am I getting ahead of myself? Maybe. But mark my words when I say that Dennis Politic is a star in the making and the kind of player around whom Bolton teams should be built.
Ronan Darcy 9
The engine on this kid is something else. Kyle McFadzean and Michael Rose are very competent central defenders who would have expected an easy ride against two kids up front. Not on your life. I’ll come onto Eddie Brown in a moment but Darcy was a pest all game and never gave the defenders a moments peace on the ball. But to highlight his work ethic without mentioning his quality on the ball would be a disservice as this lad is some footballer as well. He always looks to be incisive with his passing and has great confidence in his ability to beat a man. He is exactly the kind of nippy forward we have been looking for.
Eddie Brown 8
And now to Brown, a young man who has my eternal respect for playing 180 minutes against 4 different monstrous centre-halves in the space of a week and never shying away from a challenge once. He could easily have let himself get bullied in both games but the way he looks to steal an advantage by running in behind and disrupting play reminded me of Adam Le Fondre and showed experience beyond his years. If he could have scored with either of his chances towards the end the stadium would have been reduced to rubble such would have been the noise. I have heard how he was seen post-match celebrating with his family and that it almost reduced him to tears. This epitomises this young squad: they care deeply about this club and that shirt. Brilliant.
Finlay Hurford-Lockett 7
A 16-year-old, he was thrown in at the dep end when King-Harmes went off after taking a knock and acquitted himself well. He looks tricky and direct and almost set up a winning goal for Brown with a great cross. Another who looks a real prospect and looked at home on the pitch.