Whilst two poor teams pretty much cancelled each other out in the first half, only one turned up in the second. It wasn’t Bolton. At times MK were quite literally just jogging through static players when attacking our goal. Acres of space, no man marking, no focus, no closing down and simply put, just not wanting that win anywhere near as much as MK. At times the game pretty much had a preseason friendly feel about it, as if the important games are still to come. Bolton Wanderers are very much the punch drunk boxer on the ropes. I really can’t describe just how forlorn they looked over the second 45 minutes. One thing is absolutely certain and that is we look every bit like a bottom of the table team just ticking off the games until relegation.
The mitigation’s for our situation are well documented, but we should still be better than this. These players mostly have CVs that show they are superior to what they are displaying at the moment. It’s down to Hill to sort it out and frankly, he needs to stop talking and crack on with it. I want to see a team gearing up for a good go at promotion next season, not sulking about this one. Oh and while we are at it, let’s stop the whinging about the embargo. Most teams in League Two would bite the hand off being able to match a restriction of a 23 man pro squad and a player wage cap of around £2.5k per week. Anyhow, the ratings...
Remi Matthews 6.5; a typical mixed bag performance from our solitary goalie. A fairly solid first half, he had the few MK forays at our goal well covered. Distribution was fine as well. In the second half he was more wayward and we had the bizarre situation of Remi making a save in the style of someone trying to stop a football whilst being tasered. In that case, whilst his arms went AWOL, the belly button saved the day. He wasn’t at fault for the goal though and two superb stops later on saved Bolton from another embarrassing scoreline. For what it’s worth my MOTM.
Jason Lowe 4; Bolton’s answer to the A-team. “If Hill has a problem position, if no one else can help, and if he’s not been red carded....maybe you can call Jase to sort it out.” Unfortunately, in this case, he’s hopeless at right back. Given the absolute runaround by Gilbert & co, caught ball watching for the goal and generally a fish out of water. Lowe was no doubt a relieved man when he got back to midfield once Emmanuel came on. Then again, maybe not, because he was not really any better there either. I generally like Lowe & think he’s underrated as a defensive midfielder. Not this game though. He had a shocker.
Toto Nsiala 5; certainly a unit this lad and looks the part for centre back. However, whether he was unnerved by the MK raids past a hapless Lowe or through our also hapless midfield I don’t know, but Toto never looked at ease to me. Played his part in giving too much space to the MK players & against better opposition, would’ve been in trouble. A fantastic second half outstretched goal line block from a Healy strike, once past Matthews, saved him from a lower rating. But Nsiala needs to be better than this. Also booked.
Jack Hobbs 6; still our best defender for me but, crikey, you do worry about that back of his. Hobbs put in a good all round performance and whilst did nothing spectacular, he was noteworthy in being solid, in the right place at the right time and not making mistakes. It did make me chuckle though as there was a perceptible collective sucking in of Bolton fans breaths
in the second half, when Hobbs did a back twisting 180 to volley the ball out of danger.
Brandon Fleming 5; a busy little player, particularly with Politic continually losing the ball upfront of him, but not really that effective. Put in a performance that can be best summed up as below par.
Dennis Politic 4; so wanted to give this exciting young prospect a good rating. But he simply didn’t turn up for this match. Had an absolutely awful first twenty minutes. Kept losing the ball, when it wasn’t getting caught up in his feet that is. Deservedly booked for a poor late tackle and was lucky not to get sent off in the second half for a similar offence. His day was summed up when he skied an easy shot on goal. Did do a couple of trademark runs at goal but should’ve been subbed at some point in the second half.
Luke Murphy 4; when on the ball, Murphy did make two or three good upfield passes and was probably one of our more consistent players in actually being able to complete a pass successfully. But. The whole point of being a midfielder is mobility, attacking the gaping spaces left by a poor MK team when Bolton were in possession and closing down the MK midfielders when out of possession. Luke did neither. Was he arsed? Didn’t look it. Truly frustrates me this fella, because there is a quality player in there. But if he can’t be bothered putting in the yards then what’s the point of him being on the pitch?
Ethan Hamilton 4; as per Luke Murphy but without the ability to pass. At least Ethan did get around the pitch so I’ll give him that. However, he reminds me of when watching my lad doing the sports day sprint race whilst in reception. The little legs were going some but he didn’t seem to be moving very fast. Anyhow, whatever the reason, he was just as guilty as the others in presenting a porous midfield to MK. Played his part in a truly shocking second half team performance with the midfield being the main culprits. Rightly subbed.
Jacob Mellis 4; pushed out of position onto the right wing for this game. Not particularly effective it has to be said. His crossing was poor with only the one decent cross that I remember. Unfortunately no Bolton players were in the box to dispatch it goal bound, not that that was Mellis’s fault of course. Maybe he got an injury during the game, as he was subbed early in the second half or maybe Hill just decided a change was needed, who knows? Hopefully, Mellis will show what he’s about in future matches but he didn’t pull up any trees in this game.
Ali Crawford 6; obviously ring rusty after so long out injured and guilty of losing the ball to give MK their best breakaway chance in the first half. However, his quality was there for all to see and Ali did surprisingly well, particularly in that first half. Subbed with Emmanuel, so that Hill could sort out the right back horror show, but an okay first game back for Crawford. If we are to win a game again this season then we need players such as Hobbs and Crawford in the team.
Daryl Murphy 5; we need our out of form striker back in the groove sooner rather than later. Murphy wasn’t helped much by his team mates although Crawford did intermittently provide that much needed link to get Daryl in the game. This guy does have class though and when he was put through in the second half, he only just missed the inside of the left post with what was a very difficult shot. A frustrating day for him no doubt. But I have also no doubt that we need to hang on to the veteran striker next season as he’ll rip up L2.
Sonny Graham 5; the academy teenager came on for Mellis on the hour and was actually our best midfielder in the second half. However, he couldn’t stop MK getting a grip on the game and was being bypassed as easily as his teammates by the end of the game. In fairness his time is not just yet and he is most definitely one for the future.
Josh Emmanuel 4; what on earth has happened to this footballer? A shadow of the player from pre December. Josh’s appearance made no impact whatsoever on the MK raids down the right wing and you could quickly see why Hill wanted to start someone else at right back. Where’s Brockbank we ask? Because if he can’t get into this team now, when will he ever be good enough?
Joseph Dodoo 4; another player who’s completely off form and frankly looks only half interested. Did nothing in the 12 minutes he was on the pitch. Maybe Hill should’ve gone with Joe Bunney instead, as he can also play out on the wing?
Craig Pawson (ref) 8; well what do you know, they do actually have a decent ref in League One. Hence worthy of comment on here. MK fans will think different no doubt but I thought this fella had a cracking game. No argument over the Politic and Nsiala bookings and an all round good performance. Didn’t let the home crowd sway him, the few of them who bothered turning up that is and kept his card in his pocket when he could’ve easily sent Politic off.
Keith Hill 3; losing it I’m afraid. He’s not motivating this squad, his tactics aren’t working, his sub decisions are poor and he bullshits for Britain. You can’t polish a turd and adding glitter won’t make it sparkle nicely either. I just don’t think this fella is the right fit for Bolton, simple as that really.