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Ratings: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Harrogate Town

Matt rates how Wanderers got on in yesterdays win

Bolton Wanderers v Harrogate Town - Sky Bet League Two Photo by Eddie Garvey/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

I’m going to preface this by saying that if this were based on first half performances alone, everyone would’ve been about 5 points worse off. We were a totally different team in the 2nd.

Ian Evatt - Want to give a special mention to the gaffer, here. Started a lineup and formation that is effective against teams that sit back, and Harrogate didn’t. Our midfield was just completely overrun in the first 45 and we couldn’t keep hold of anything due to Harrogate’s press. At half time, he made a clever tactical change and turned the performance around. It takes a good manager to notice their own mistakes and make brave, decisive subs, especially only one goal down at home at the mid point in the game. Very good management, IMO.

Anyway…

Matt Gilks - 7

Pulled off a belter save just before Harrogate’s goal, and another brilliant save in 2nd half to deny Jon Stead an equaliser.

Gethin Jones - 6

Got into decent attacking areas in the 2nd half and covered well in the last 15. Conceded the own goal but it was pretty impossible for him not to do so in that position.

Ricardo Santos - 7

*Insert any description from recent games* - strong, good in the air, played a couple of lovely cross field passes to switch play.

Alex Baptiste - 7

The king of bringing the ball down with his chest. For a veteran centre half, he looks surprisingly nippy when running into opposition territory and I’d love nothing more than for him to launch a 30 yard ping straight into top bins some day. That might be wishful thinking though. Solid as per against Harrogate; got dealt a rough hand with the forward players losing possession so much in the first half and as a result had more pressure than usual to deal with.

Declan John - 6.5

Saucy turn of pace and looked like one of our only half decent options going forward in the first 45. Did nothing massively wrong, and as with the rest of defence, was put under more pressure from the absence of our midfield before the break.

MJ Williams - 6

Much, much better in the 2nd half in the midfield three. Was pretty sloppy on the ball and got drawn out of position in the first, leaving some gaping holes for Harrogate players to occupy and play the one touch stuff that lead to their goal.

Kieran Lee - 6.5

Very similar to MJ. Got overrun in the first half but looked very steady and composed after the break - made up for his howlers on Monday by just about directing Isgrove’s effort into the bottom corner, and almost leaving with a brace with a narrowly missed 2nd half effort.

LLoyd Isgrove - 6.5

Mostly ineffective, but his hard work and desire to win back possession lead to our equaliser. After the goal went in he looked a totally different player - would like to see more of that in the remaining few games. Tenacious, gritty, and a handful for the Harrogate left back until he was substituted.

Marcus Maddison - 5

I’ll start by saying that this rating might’ve been higher if he’d have been given the chance to play in 2nd half with the formation change in a sturdier lineup. However, in his time on the pitch, he lost possession frequently, first touch was heavy, and made too many poor decisions. When playing behind the striker, you need the absolute opposite of that. I hear the argument for him looking brighter than the other 3 forward players in the first half, but in my opinion, the only reason it might’ve looked that way is because his central role warranted him receiving more of the ball. He got a player booked, but whenever I’ve seen him play, he just plays for the foul far too often. The one positive I will give him though, is that he always beats the first man with good crosses.

There is obviously a seriously good player in there - topped only by Kevin De Bruyne, the guy has the 2nd highest number of league assists since 2014/15 in all four divisions, for God’s sake. I really want it to work, but it just doesn’t look like it will. What a shame.

Oladapo Afolayan - 6

Totally absent until 2nd half and probably would’ve been a similar rating to MM, but looked so much better after the formation change. He looks like a nightmare to defend, but against Harrogate, we only saw that from about 50 minutes onwards.

Eoin Doyle - 7

Worked hard, as ever. Bottled a 1v1 that he should’ve buried, but made up for that missed opportunity by netting the winner and his 17th of the season. Pressed well and made a few clever fouls to stop Harrogate’s momentum.

Subs:

George Thomason - 8.5

In a very important game at a very important point in the season, the 20 year old changed the game. Replacing the most hyped player Bolton have had for some time, he came on at half time and turned a struggling team full of experienced players (many of whom have played at a much higher level, let’s not forget) into a strong, stable unit. Kept things ticking over in midfield, relieved the back 4 of the pressure, created opportunities, and made clever runs (Doyle’s goal, for example) that gave the Harrogate defence difficult decisions to make. Some player on our hands here.

Zack Elbouzedi - 6

Didn’t do much at all really, but he is rapid. Must be horrible if he’s bombing it down the pitch in the 87th and you’re a knackered centre half trying to keep up.

Shaun Miller - 6

Nathan Delfouneso - 6

Harry Brockbank - 6