Wanderers continued their rich vein of form and overcame a mediocre Cambridge side with a stellar performance at the UniBol on Tuesday evening. With some sharper finishes Bolton would (and should) have been out of sight by half-time. Still, its 4 wins on the bounce inspired largely by a great January transfer window (ringing any bells?)
Here’s how I thought the individual players fared…
Largely untested, as the U’s few decent chances all flashed high or wide. Decisive in collecting a few balls in the air, and a record start for a Bolton keeper with 4 clean sheets has to give everyone a confidence boost. My only issue is with his distribution, and his tendency for some stray long balls. This is a small issue though, especially for a young keeper, and since he got an assist last Saturday, maybe I’m being harsh.
Mr. Reliable. It really is great to see him back. His return from injury has given us some of the industry and composure we have lacked the last few months. Always links defence and attack well and is building a great relationship with Fossey on the right-hand side. Looks good in a 3.
When Santos has a good day we just don’t ever look like conceding. His ability to dominate strikers physically was on full display, often his positioning and strength making up for any discrepancies in pace. Calm with the ball at his feet, and unlucky not to head home his first Bolton goal.
Another who seems to be suited well to this system. Best game I’ve seen Johnston play in the white shirt, winning plenty of defensive duels whilst also making a few forays into enemy territory, playing some nice one-twos and showing quick feet. Linked up well with DJ on the left and didn’t put a foot wrong to my memory. Good to see him back in position after the Bolton injury curse forced him into midfield a few times.
We’re all guilty of falling for loan players, but I’m not sure I’ve ever taken to one so fast before. His pure energy is something to behold and going into the game I was worried he wouldn’t be able to keep it up after Saturday, but I stand corrected. Fossey is always positive and has filled the void left by the injury to Lloyd Isgrove which left us sorely lacking in energetic wide options, resorting often to playing Kachunga or Bakayoko out of position. Could have had 2 or 3 goals by half time, mind. My pick for MOTM. Sign da ting.
It’s no wonder Bolton’s form drops right off when MJ isn’t available. He is vital to our midfield, always linking the ball between the centre backs and his fellow midfielders and sitting tight in that pivot role allowing the more offensive-minded players to do their thing. Looked well up for a confrontation with Paul Digby on more than one occasion, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Looks to have been a great acquisition. Still a very young man, Morley presses and passes with a conviction beyond his years. Assumed the role of technician in midfield and played well, his range of passing unlocking opportunities across the front line. His contribution will become more important as the games rack up with Lee needing more rest between games and Sheehan out for the remainder.
A willing runner down the left channel. Linked up well with Johnston and put in some dangerous deliveries in the first half especially as Wanderers piled on the pressure. Found himself on the right once or twice and produced a smart cut-back for Bakayoko’s opener.
Electric. Dapo struggled during our run of bad form and lost his place for a few weeks. Now though he looks once more to be the player who gave us so much hope at the start of the season. Manipulated the ball with ease, great example being his composed flick through to John in the opening goal build-up. Afolayan’s pace and tricky feet are always a worry for defenders, two attributes he made count; bursting onto Charles’ through ball, cutting inside several men like they didn’t exist, and rifling the ball home to secure another 3 points. That’s Twelve Goals already this campaign. Just, wow.
Put himself about well and marked his return with an important goal, just as I was beginning to wonder how many more chances would pass us by. Pressed the Cambridge defence high and won possession back a few times through sheer determination. I worry if we’ll see him cautioned or worse for some of his challenges before long, though. Seems to jump late and a little off the ground for the ball at times. Think he’s got away with a few recently.
Gave Okedina and Iredale a torrid time. He really doesn’t give defenders a second to think due to his constant pressure, perfectly summed up by his tenacity in nicking the ball and releasing Dapo for the 2nd goal. Bolton fans have found a new favourite in Dion Charles, a striker with work-ethic, goals, and the songs to match. We’ve really missed those qualities since Le Fondre left.