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Five Things: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Stevenage

A look at the main talking points following our victory at home to Stevenage.

Bolton Wanderers v Stevenage - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

Killer Left Side

Possibly the most pleasing aspect of Saturday’s win was Bolton’s left hand side. The two loanees, particularly Declan John looked a class above. I would argue that first 15/20 minutes of Saturday’s game was the best we’ve started a game this season and the majority of our attacking output came from the combination of John and Afolayan. What impressed me most was the understanding that the two of them seemed to have already built in such a short space of time. Their link up in the build up to the goal and positional awareness when defending was something we haven’t really seen, particularly down the left this season. I think it was clear from his performance, Declan John is not a League Two footballer. But, his desire for game time and regular first team action is something that can only benefit both parties until the end of the season. A natural left sided defender is something we’ve cried out for in the months leading up to January and with both Ben Jackson and Declan in the building, we have that. It seems as if Dapo has joined the club with the intention of earning a permanent deal at the end of the season. He certainly won’t harm his chances of that if he continues to impress the way that he has in the short time we’ve had him. There is a certain rawness to the way that he plays, in particularly his pressing all over the pitch. But, he carries the ball effortlessly and is surely a player that can excite.

Sarcevic #10

There is a gaping Antoni Sarcevic sized hole in this Wanderers team at the moment. Evatt mentioned recently that he felt one mistake was playing Sarcevic in a deeper role during the first half of the season and believes he is better in the attacking third. At the moment, Nathan Delfouneso is occupying that ‘Number 10’ position and I haven’t been overly certain this gets the best out of him. Against Stevenage, Delfouneso had just 21 touches - the lowest of any player who started the game. This is where I feel Sarcevic could really come into his own. We’ve seen his quality at times this season, in particular when he makes his late runs into the box.

Appeals, Appeals, Appeals

Another day, another god awful refereeing decision. It was inevitable that there was going to be another red card shown after Bolton’s recent history with Mr Kettle. MJ Williams was sent off for a “late” tackle on Tom Pett. There was no malice, it wasn’t over the top and it certainly wasn’t late. For the third time in three weeks, Wanderers had a red card overturned by an FA panel. This has to be some kind of record? I’m not going to start any conspiracy theories about referees in this division and the number of unjust red cards we are receiving, but there has to be a point where it is investigated. We are lucky that it didn’t cost us another two points like it did against Morecambe. That being said, we should be out of sight by this stage in the game…

Lack That Cutting Edge

We need to kill games off. After about 30 minutes I had a look and we’d had 70% possession but only five shots, three of which were off target. This has to improve. We have to hit teams hard and blow them away with our attacking threat. We saw Carlisle, Barrow and Port Vale do it to us this season. They all came out and played attacking football early on with no fear. It was only for the sake of two excellent comebacks that we managed to pick up two points from those games. If we came out with that kind of attacking intent and got two or three goals ahead, we have the defensive stability to see those kinds of games out.

Maverick Maddison

I’m not sure what other people expected from Marcus when he signed, but on Saturday I saw exactly what I thought I would, if not even slightly surprised. He’s the type of player that will always look for the spectacular, that’s why he’s been described as the most talented League One footballer over the last few years. Maddison has only been at the club a few weeks and you can see partnerships starting to develop. His attempted long ball against Morecambe was almost inch perfect for Doyle. Once given a little while longer to settle in and form an understanding with his teammates, I have no doubt that he will play a vital role in the rest of the season. Could he opt for the simple ball now and again? Of course. But he seems eager to impress and that can only be seen as a good thing. His defensive work was a lot better than most would have expected after some harsh reviews from Hull and Charlton fans. Against Stevenage he chipped in with a couple of blocks and helped out his defence with work in his own box. This season we have been unable to have a player who can play with complete freedom. I believe with the quality in the positions around someone like Maddison, we can allow him to aim for those killer passes or outrageous efforts on goal as they are less likely to come as a hinderance as they would at the start of the campaign.