The Sound of Baptiste
I think the most eye-catching and pleasing performance from Saturday’s win was that of defender Alex Baptiste, who put in what was probably the most heralded performance of both his spells at Bolton.
The composure in his defensive duties and in possession was a key factor in Bolton’s win, with the best example being the short pass to Eoin Doyle to set Wanderers on their way as they broke for their second and ultimately decisive goal. It looked a simple pass but it was anything but.
Delaney has become somewhat of an unsung hero at Bolton, seemingly doing a lot of steady work without some of the eye-catching flair some of his teammates possess. What I like about Delaney is how he imposes his ariel dominance on his opponents, it’s his prevailing strength and can often send a clear message to opponents that we will give nothing away cheaply, particularly since the introduction of veteran goalkeeper Matt Gilks to the side.
It was by no means the perfect performance from Delaney but he is cementing his role in the Wanderers starting XI
Of course I’m not excluding the remarkable Ricardo Santos, who has probably been out player of the year so far, I just think his counterparts at the back are beginning to raise their own games to match him and long may it continue.
Like everyone, I was excited at the directness and the speed of the play for our second goal at the weekend. I think it will do Crawford a world of good particularly. A lovely, controlled, finish into the bottom corner after an incisive Wanderers counter attack Ali’s first of the season was always coming but I think this will now settle his mind a little and allow him to focus on being the creative force we know he is. He’s as good as anyone in this league but cool heads almost always prevail in life.
The midfield seems boosted by the introduction of the right-footed Gethin Jones into the Wanderers LWB position as he natural instinct is to come inside. It is making life easier for Andrew Tutte & Crawford to manipulate the space as they have another option to rotate possession.
There’s definitely been progress at Bolton over the last few weeks and I think if you take the Leyton Orient game out of the picture, you will see an extended period of more positive results. If Bolton are to be successful this season, it will be down to these constant little improvements. Evolution not Revolution, or Eva-lution (You’re welcome). Players are getting to know each other and I think the issues regarding which space to operate in, particularly in midfield, seem to be naturally fading.
What I want to see next, with our growing confidence, is for us to put games to bed. I wasn’t hugely concerned during the Stevenage game as we looked capable of holding them out but I would have liked us to have killed the game off, Stevenage nearly secured an undeserved draw, but for a very good Gilks save to his left.
He gets the ball …
The goals against Stevenage & Salford are exactly the type of goals we want to be seeing Doyle score. The Salford one was a particularly eye catching bit of forward play with the Irish striker springing into life to get himself clear of his marker whilst providing himself with both the angle and the required body shape to fire home, whilst making it look easy in process.
The Stevenage goal was of different vintage but still equally as pleasing for a number 9, pouncing on a loose ball after the Stevenage goalkeeper could only parry an Antoni Sarcevic effort.
It’s now 3 in his last 4 starts for Eoin Doyle and with the Irishman firing, provided he gets the necessary service, Bolton can expect their results to keep on improving.