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Man Of The Match: Bolton Wanderers 0 - 0 Coventry City - Matthew Alexander

Composed, Commanding & Courageous.

Bolton Wanderers v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One - University of Bolton Stadium Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

One of the hardest Man of the Match awards I’ve ever had the pleasure of giving. Realistically, every single player than crossed that touchline displaying the Bolton Wanderers crest with pride could - and probably should - have their names written in the title.

After being one of the 100 lunatics that made the 160 mile round trip to Bootham Crescent during pre-season, I was terrified when I read that the young goalkeeper I saw during the opening 45 minutes of a pre-season game at non-league York City was starting in goal for the Wanderers in their first home League One game of the campaign.

Oh how I was wrong.

Matthew Alexander was thrown into the deep end by Wanderers after our well-documented financial difficulties forced us to field our youngest-ever team.

Alexander, at just 17 years of age, made a total of seven saves on his way to keeping a well-earned clean sheet. He commanded his box well and, although his distance kicking wasn’t as accurate or as long as we have seen in the past, it’s important to remember that he is at a very early stage of his development. Another benefit of this was that we witnessed a Bolton Wanderers team passing out from the back with defenders that were more than comfortable with the ball at their feet.

It is hard to say what is going to happen next in terms of seniors players coming back into the fold, but I would love to see Alexander in and around the first team moving forward to learn from the senior pros and enhance his development.

Special mention must go to Ben Williams. As Phil Parkinson eluded to in his post-match presser, he has come in over summer without being under contract and without pay to help prepare the likes of Alexander and the rest of the U18 lads. I was lucky enough to be sat in earshot of himself, Nicky Spooner, Gavin McCann and Parky at the game on Saturday and I can only express positivity at the way Williams especially was coaching the lads through the game. His man-management of Alexander, his constant reassurance that he was doing a good job and his words of encouragement really helped the young shot-stopper keep his clean sheet and earn his place in the history books.

Great work, Matthew!