Wanderers come out on top of a game full of chances.
Bolton Wanderers made it two wins on the trot to leave themselves two points off the top of the table. An open game with plenty of chances at both end, but some errant finishing from both sides.
Joel Dixon - 8
Dixon controlled his area well making some important interceptions, including taking control of a high ball in the dying moments of the game. His distribution was, with one exception, good allowing Bolton to vary the way they came out from the back.
I would question his positioning for the Oxford goal, but you cannot really blame the keeper when left one on one.
Gethin Jones - 6
Jones had a mixed game making some great runs forward but also horribly mis-controlling the ball on a number of occasions.
Ricardo Santos - 6
From the highlights it appears that it was Santos and Johnston who stood still as Matty Taylor ran through to score the Oxford United goal. He may have been offside, but this is a valuable lesson to play to the whistle and not stop. With Taylor still needing to round Dixon, the goal could have been avoided. Both are marked down for this.
A slip aside, Santos was otherwise solid enough.
George Johnston - 6
Similar to Santos really, solid enough apart from the goal. Coped well with a move to left back for the last 20 minutes and played a beautiful ball over for Doyle who nearly added a third.
Declan John - 7
Showed some good attacking intent and link up with Afolayan ahead of him. I was not convinced he always made the correct decisions on the ball though and his defending looked a little shaky. Hopefully he will improve as he returns to full fitness.
MJ Williams - 9
Williams was absolutely everywhere in the midfield, constantly screening the back four and dropping in to make a central defensive three at times.
What really impresses, and is invaluable to this system, is his willingness to create an option for a pass. His passing ability is then up there with the best on the pitch, with a volleyed cross field ball particularly standing out.
A key man for the whites.
Josh Sheehan - 7
A good ball in from a corner for Doyle’s winner. Generally looked good moving forward. Didn’t have his shooting boots on for a couple of opportunities which came his way.
Antoni Sarcevic - 6
A solid performance from the captain moving forward. A couple of clear occasions of bad decision making and an unfortunately timed slip or two brought his performance down a little.
Lloyd Isgrove - 7
Isgrove was his usual energetic self before his withdrawal on around 80 minutes. His constant harrying of the opposition breaks up play and creates opportunities in dangerous positions. Proved his worth once more.
Dapo Afolayan - 9
Afolayan just has that something about him which few Bolton players have had over the last few years. His ability to drive with the ball and take on a man makes him a great outlet. He is also good on the ball in tight spots, and if he takes a knock from an opposition player you know he is winning a free-kick, and there were a lot of those as Oxford became frustrated chasing the game.
His goal, almost out of nothing, was a glorious finish and was exactly what Bolton needed to get back into the game. With two goals in three, hopefully he is finding his shooting boots and will continue to push Bolton on.
Eoin Doyle - 8
Exactly the kind of quality header you expect from Doyle to steer Bolton into the lead. Rather like Isgrove his constant closing down and never give up attitude wins Bolton the ball in dangerous areas on the pitch creating opportunities.
A great run through towards the end nearly allowed him to put the game to bed with his lob appearing to go not too far wide.
Sub 1: Alex Baptiste - 7
Exactly the kind of performance we have come to expect from the veteran defender. In the right place on a number of occasions to help stop Oxford’s late charge for an equaliser. He will get less game time this season with Johnston in the squad, but it is good to know we have a solid back up option.
Sub 2: Elias Kachunga - 6
He did not really have much of an opportunity to make an impact with Bolton under the cosh for much of the time he was on the pitch. He did make a couple of important interceptions though. He will be one pushing for a start in one of the cup games over the next week or so.
Sub 3: Kieran Lee - N/A
Lee was not on the pitch for long enough to have an impact. He was though served up with an opportunity which it looked like he really should have buried to kill the game off as stoppage time approached.