Football is back, and after what seems like an eternity, so are Bolton. This was the Bolton Wanderers that I remember from my early days as a supporter: a plucky set of lads who worked for the badge and for the fans who backed them to the last. This felt like my club again.
Wanderers went down 2-0 to an average Wycombe side and really should have lost by more, but the courage showed by those who pulled on the shirt was a joy to watch and made the long trip worthwhile. It’s time to start thinking positively again.
Here are my player ratings:
Remi Matthews 5.5
He made several good saves and dealt well with crosses but blotted his copybook severely by rushing off his line into no-man’s land to allow Paul Smyth to round him for the opening goal. The game was very one-sided in Wycombe’s favour, true, but had he made the decision to stay on his line it could have turned out differently. By conceding this goal we conceded the game and Remi must improve if he is to keep Ben Alnwick, my personal No. 1, out of the team.
Harry Brockbank 7
It was a difficult afternoon for the young defender whose contract was only extended an hour before kick-off, but he coped with it well. He certainly is one of the youngsters who look ready for first-team football and showed good versatility in playing both right-back and centre-half. He reads the game well but could do with being more physical, though that will come in time. A good start to a season where he could be crucial to our defence.
Liam Edwards 7
The former u23s captain acquitted himself very well in difficult circumstances against Adebayo Akinfenwa and his “physical” style. He looks very comfortable on the ball and confident in the air but what impressed me the most was his knack of getting his body in the way of shots, similar to the way David Wheater used to. Another who is worth keeping around the first team.
Yoann Zouma 9
Does everyone remember Prince-Desir Gouano? You know, that erratic, sometimes brilliant, sometimes awful centre-back from 2015/2016. He has been reincarnated and my word does it look like we have found an improved version. Zouma is quick, tall, brave, strong and reads the game superbly. For a very young man to have his professional debut facing on of the most awkward strikers in the game in Akinfenwa and have him in his back pocket shows he is a real talent. I can’t wait to see more of him, and I bet he can’t wait to get back out there after the fan’s reaction to him. Zoooouma! Zoooouma!
Josh Earl N/A
Injured very early on. I really hope we haven’t signed him just to get injured straight away. Get well soon, Josh!
Jason Lowe 6.5
This was a very Jason Lowe performance. He was tidy on the ball but very unambitious. He made his tackles well but slowed play down after winning the ball. He did look comfortable though and his dedication to the cause will win him a lot of admirers. I think he could well play every game this season if he stays fit and I’m not too unhappy about that. We need steady eddies this season.
Luke Murphy 4
The worst performance on the pitch. For one of the senior players to play with such a lack of concentration and interest was a real disappointment, especially when you consider that Murphy has consistently played at Championship level for years and thus should have looked a cut above. If he doesn’t want to be here, he should go, if he stays, he has to do better.
James Weir 5
He tried to be our out-ball and make things happen, but he looked way off the pace. Another who signed an hour before kick-off, Weir showed that he had ability but often looked at a loss as to what to do with the ball when he got it. I’m pleased he has joined but I am hoping he will greatly improve once he regains match-fitness. Not a great start.
Erhun Oztumer 6
The Turkish Messi didn’t have a good game. It would be easy to say he just doesn’t want to be here and thus he didn’t try but while he looked lazy on the ball he worked very hard off it. The main thing is that he turned up and played, unlike Josh Magennis whose unprofessional attitude was rightly criticised by the Bolton faithful. Even if Oz wants to go, he played, and he has my utmost respect for that.
Dennis Politic 6.5
Another youngster with great potential, Politic was our main threat, offering our only meaningful shot in the game. He looks to cut-in onto his right foot and showed confidence in his dribbling. He didn’t set the world alight by any means, but he showed he could be useful. Looking forward to seeing more from him.
Eddie Brown 6
A thankless task for the youngster who was up against two mountains in El-Abd and Stewart. He looked decent on the ball despite the one-twos he attempted not often coming off. Unfortunately, he didn’t win a single header all day but will have learned a lot from his experience I am sure. A very brave performance to keep making runs and trying despite his struggles.
Joe White 7
A very impressive showing from young White who was thrown in at the deep end after Josh Earl’s injury. He was confident on the ball and dealt with the threat of Smyth well in the first-half. All Wycombe fans I spoke to post-match picked him out as one the star performers. I look forward to seeing more of him.
Ronan Darcy 6
Didn’t do much wrong but did nothing of note. Looked calm on the ball.
Callum King-Harmes 5
I only remember a brief cameo where he perfectly executed a step-over in the box and then promptly fell over his own feet. Better luck next time, lad.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said? The Bolton fans were just exceptional, with a sell-out 1800 strong crowd backing a side where they had very little idea of who was playing. We had a temporary kit, no sponsor, no owner and almost no players, but our fans were there and they were loud and got behind the team for 90 minutes. Phil Parkinson said post-match than any prospective owner would look at that support and be blown away. He’s spot on. My club is back and it feels fantastic. I remember Wigan away and how disgusted I was at what my club and its fans had become. Today I felt immense pride. COYWM