When the final whistle went at Sincil Bank on Tuesday, Bolton Wanderers had finally recorded their first win of the season. After two high scoring draws, the back line managed their first clean sheet of the 2021/2 season. It is safe to say that the side has found their feet in League One.
It could quite easily have been Bolton’s third victory in as many games. Had Joel Dixon played against MK Dons, The Whites would have likely kept the scoreline down. Five minutes of madness deprived Ian Evatt’s side of all three points just days before at Plough Lane.
In an alternate universe, Bolton Wanderers sit atop of League One with nine points from their opening three games. Unfortunately, in this one, they’re not. That is not to say that we should not be impressed with our start to the year. There is of course a long way to go, but there is a foundation of performances to build on.
Regardless of the league table, something is happening here at Bolton Wanderers. We have gone toe-to-toe with each opponent we have played, and arguably come out of each game the better side. MK Dons were hotly tipped to be in the League One title hunt after some shrewd summer business. We were better than them. AFC Wimbledon have been a respected League One team for years now. We were better than them. Lincoln City were one game away from The Championship last season. Guess what? We were better than them.
This isn’t a declaration that Bolton Wanderers are going to win the league. Or get promoted. There are 43 games to play. Form, injuries and the January transfer window will go a long way to dictating the 2021/2 League One campaign.
But something is happening. Any fan that has attended a game so far this season knows it. Ian Evatt is building a football team in his own image. The former no-nonsense centre half is developing a high pressing, possession based team. When we’re good, it’s scintillating. With football, results are what ultimately matters. Entertainment is an added bonus. When your football team provides both, the world is a beautiful place to be.
Of course, there are issues for this side to iron out. The defence needs to build on Tuesday’s clean sheet. Joel Dixon needs to make the goalkeeping position his own. Elias Kachunga and Amadou Bakayoko have to add a new dimension to our forward play.
But there are also reasons to be excited. George Johnston has excelled, barring his high profile mistake against Milton Keynes. Josh Sheehan is a sexy, sexy footballer. MJ Williams is a colossus in midfield. Antoni Sarcevic is looking fitter and better than last year. Dapo Afolayan is too good for League One, just like he was in League Two.
We need to be patient with this side. Wherever they’re heading, it’ll take time. Ian Evatt won’t be patient, though. He’s in a hurry to get this club to The Championship.
All we can do is continue to offer our outstanding support from the terraces. Us Wanderers fans have been long-starved of optimism and excitement. Revel in it. Put your energies into cheering this team to wherever it is headed. When Bolton Wanderers fans are on top form, it is a feast for the ears.
That incredible support has to continue at the DW Stadium. Although it is a cup game, a victory away from home against our high-spending rivals in front of 4,000 travelling fans will build on our current momentum.
Something’s happening. I know you can feel it, too. All we can do is play our role and enjoy the ride. You can be confident that Ian Evatt and his players will do their bit to bring whatever success they can to this resurgent football club.
To quote the incredible support at Sincil Bank at the full time whistle on Tuesday - “oh Bolton, we love you”.