Warning: This article contains only positives from the outset and throughout. Read at your own discretion.
A dominant display away at the league leaders provided much to dig our teeth into, upon the final whistle. Prior to kick off on Saturday, Cambridge United sat at the top of the table. The home side had scored ten goals in their previous three outings and had only conceded two goals at home all season. Well, you wouldn’t have thought that after watching the game. Cambridge didn’t look threatening, nor did they create too many clear cut chances. Wanderers both defended and attacked as a team and gave us a clearer view into the type of football we can expect to see more regularly for the remainder of the campaign.
The team sheet raised a few question marks, Brockbank kept his place at LWB and Baptiste remained on the right side of the back three - many expected Gordon/Mascoll to come back into the starting eleven with Brocky pushed back into his more familiar role as RCB. Tutte was a welcomed addition to stabilise the midfield after a few shaky performances from Brandon Comley, as was the consistent Nathan Delfouneso replacing Gnahoua following the birth of ND7’s baby boy.
As mentioned before, choosing a man of the match was particularly difficult. Brocky was in the mix due to his work rate and performance on the left wing. Tutte was the steady holding midfielder that we have lacked in recent games and also put the shift in to cover when Kioso attacked down the right. Nathan Delfouneso looked to create at every opportunity, almost scored a wonder goal in the first half and carried the ball beyond defenders like it was nothing. But ultimately, they were beaten to the award by the skipper, Antoni Sarcevic.
Following the Barrow game midweek, in my post match ratings I suggested that his second half performance and his equalising goal could be the catalyst to an extended display of consistent performances.
Boy, did it work. In the first half, he was excellent. He popped up at both ends and in both boxes helping the team as and where he could. His exquisite back heeled pass on the right hand side to play in Kioso was another display of his quality, which he clearly has in abundance.
Sarcevic was heavily involved in Bolton’s possession, with 61 touches of the ball. Only bettered by Peter Kioso, who had five more touches. A figure expected when 47% of Bolton’s play was down the right hand side.
His partnership with Tutte is developing more and more, with each game they play together. Tutte is exactly the type of playing partner that Sarcevic needs alongside him. Tutte allows Sarcevic to be the more expansive of the pair, thereby creating more further up the pitch.
Next we come to where his performances really matter, in front of goal. I, alongside most, thought he had blown it when Sarce took an extra touch in the box before picking out Brockbank who ultimately got his first Wanderers goal unfairly ruled out. His positional sense and awareness of his teammates was quite brilliant. I would argue that 99 times out of 100, someone in his position shoots first time following Crawford’s deft back heel. But, Sarcevic had other ideas and rather unselfishly played in his team mate who was in a better position to put Wanderers ahead. But it wasn’t to be, as the poor standard of officiating at this level becomes more apparent each week.
We’re starting to rely on Sarcevic to claw us back into games, it would be nice if he could put us ahead in future! His finish was brilliant. The control after Crawford fired a pass into him was great and the shot followed suit. He rifled the ball into the bottom corner from around 20 yards, which not many goalkeepers would have been able to get to.
Sarcevic is starting to show exactly why he came with such hype following his departure from Argyle in summer and I’m delighted that he’s proving some of his early doubters wrong. A fantastic leader on and off the pitch and a well deserved consecutive appearance in the League Two team of the week.
Congrats, Sarce! Keep it going.