Strikers Scoring Goals
It was great to see both Eoin Doyle and Nathan Delfouneso get on the scoresheet vs Southend United on Saturday. Doyle’s recent goalscoring form is encouraging, a lot our success this season was pinned on the Irishman having a decent campaign and it seems the frontman has managed to get his eye in with plenty of the season still remaining. Doyle’s hunger to complete his good afternoon with a hattrick will have also have been a welcome sight for his manager Ian Evatt who resisted the temptation to save Doyle for another day, with the game won at 3-0.
Nathan Delfouneso continued his own impressive run of form with the opening goal on Saturday and having featured heavily for Wanderers in their jam-packed start to this League 2 season, he will benefit from no midweek fixture this week.
I did mention in my last five things that it would be great to see Wanderers finish a game off when on top and they clinically put the game to bed when they could see Southend were struggling for confidence after the second goal. Prior to that, Southend were very much in the game, this killer instinct will serve Bolton well.
I think the main concern following the game was that of the injury to midfielder Andrew Tutte as he limped off in the first half with a suspected thigh injury. Tutte has been one of the standout performers for Bolton this season and he presence will be sorely missed in the Wanderers’ engine room.
Tutte’s absence does provide an opportunity for Brandon Comley and Tom White, who have both found minutes on the pitch harder to come by of late. Both are likely to see increased game time with increase in the amount of substitutes available in each game to five.
In terms of impact coming into a team, it is harder to think of a better example in the recent history of Bolton Wanderers than the introduction of Matt Gilks to the starting line up. Gilks has been a booming voice organising his defence and has brought a calmness to Wanderers that could prove vital to their promotion aspirations. Of course, the vulnerability that had formed with Billy Crellin and the high ball has been taken away and this will be playing a part.
It just isn’t clicking right now for the Scot as he continues to try and find his range from long distance. Personally, I would be less inclined to pull the trigger and instead to move the ball out to the Wanderers right, where they are having success. I understand the need for variety in the attack, I’m just not sure long-range attempts are the right way to go about it, particularly with so few hitting the target.
Crawford has a lot to offer and I would keep with him for now. I’m convinced his form will turn, very few players are at their best all season and if nothing else this season has shown that player form is only temporary.
Ricardo Santos and the Wanderers Defence
Santos is becoming a real a fans’ favourite at the club and his already huge stature seems to be getting bigger every time he steps on the field for Bolton. He has become a rock at the heart of the Wanderers defence and his confidence seems to be spreading to his counterparts Alex Baptiste & Ryan Delaney, who are both looking increasingly comfortable in the Wanderers back three.
There were legitimate concerns about the Bolton defence after the opening few games and I think the turnaround represents a big success for Ian Evatt and his coaching team. It is by no means the finished article and the Leyton Orient game will serve as a painful reminder of what can happen when his side isn’t ‘at it’ but transformation in the Wanderers defence is evident. It hasn’t happened overnight and there has been a lot of hard work and some tough decisions made along the way but the progress is there for all to see.
Whilst discussing the performance of the Wanderers defence, it would be completely remiss of me not to mention the brilliant individual performance of Wanderers defender Alex Baptiste. Now, in my last five things I gushed over the improvement of Baptiste and I do not wish to repeat myself but it is very pleasing to see Alex stringing these impressive performances together.