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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Leyton Orient

Five things about our first win of 2021

Bolton Wanderers v Leyton Orient - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Dave Howarth - CameraSport via Getty Images

It has taken close to a month but we finally have our first win of the new(ish) year. It was a game where we could and should have scored 4 or 5 but it doesn’t really matter. A win’s a win.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

“A fan in the supporters’ trust meeting in midweek asked me why I never change the team, so I thought I’d better change it” - Ian Evatt to Marc Iles post game.

All praise to that fan for this performance. Evatt rang in the changes for this game, making 6 in total to the starting line up. Although Antoni Sarcevic and Ryan Delaney dropping out were enforced due to injury and suspension, Evatt made bold calls to make Wanderers a more attacking outfit. Alex Baptiste was in for Ryan Delaney. Harry Brockbank in for Gethin Jones. Nathan Delfouneso came in for Zack Elbouzedi. George Thomason for Antoni Sarcevic. Kieran Lee for Andrew Tutte. Arthur Gnahoua for Ali Crawford . The sweeping changes made the desired effect with Wanderers looking as good as they have all season.

There is a question of whether there should be any rotation for the game on Tuesday. I’m very much of the mantra that you shouldn’t change a winning team but there are other factors at play. Lee is only just back from injury and played the full 90’ here. It could be foolhardy to start him again in 3 days time. It would be a shame as he does look a cut above in this division but I don’t think we can afford to lose him for another month. Over cautious or smart? Comment on the Twitter post, I am genuinely curious what the consensus is.

Get Confident, Stupid

We had looked great all game but we had squandered too many chances and given them too much time to organise and block our attempts. I had that sinking feeling that we’d rehash the familiar story of deserving something but getting nothing. What a difference a goal makes. It was like someone flicked a switch on the Wanderers after Harry Brockbank’s goal (maybe an own goal but I’ll give it to Brocky). We were braver and quicker in our passing and we were more aggressive in winning back the ball. Sure, we looked good all game but this team looked like a team that should be playing at a higher level. We had a five game winning streak last time we rode the wave of high confidence, here’s hoping for another.

Schadenfreude

Is it petty? Yes. Is it childish? Yes. Did I think I was above it? I sure did. Did I love seeing Conor Wilkinson lose? You’re god damn right I did. He looked lively at the start and I had an unnerving feeling he’d be running roughshod over Harry Brockbank all afternoon. Brockbank found his feet and ending up pacifying the threat pretty well. He made several pathetic attempts at winning free kicks, he wasted possession, was constantly berating team mates for not doing exactly what he wanted and he even got in to an argument with his keeper. He was having a bad day at the office. The thing is, the lad definitely has talent. He’s good with his feet for a man of his size and can beat his man when he’s on it. It’s just clear that he thinks he’s a lot better than he actually is. Not only will this stop him going as far as he could, it also makes it harder to like him as a player. Couple that with him scoring against us in a 4-0 battering last time and it just made it too sweet not to enjoy just a little bit.

Return of the Bap

I am as guilty as the next man for throwing criticism at the veteran defender this year. In fairness to him, most of it has been unwarranted. He showed exactly how good he was yesterday and was my MOTM. He reads the game so well and was always in the right place to snuff out any promising attacks. He plays out from the back so much better than Delaney and that really, really helped to make the team a more threatening force. You also don’t fear him having a lapse in concentration and giving away silly opportunities half as much as with the alternatives. He will always be venerable to a tall centre forward but his all round game makes him a starter for me.

King Arthur

Arthur Gnahoua is the only reason we have any points in our last handful of games. He could be the key to unlocking this team for the rest of the year if he keeps this up. Great composure, a great first touch, a decent eye for a pass and most importantly a directness that we’ve been lacking, a directness that a lot of players in this division can’t cope with. Before he was playing we had a team of competent players but there was no edge, we didn’t change pace in attacks and no one carried the ball in to dangerous positions to make space for other players. We looked like a team too afraid to lose possession at the expense of our attacking edge He’s remedied all those ailments but it has rubbed off on those around him. Must start. Must wrap in cotton wool. Whatever lingering hope we have of going up this season will be heavily reliant on him.