After a four hour car journey up and lots of rain it was good to arrive and find that the game was definitely on whilst others had been postponed. The team selection was not far from what I would have selected and filled me with hope that we could come away with something from the game although the task before us was a tough one as Bolton were not just behind second place for nothing and earlier in the season at the Mem looked a very good team and Saturdays defeat at Sheffield United was their first in quite a while. The real surprise was James Clarke retaining his place at left back and probably Harrison starting up front with Luke James whist it was good to see Monty starting a game again because IMO we look a lot better when he plays.
Looking at the game now well I cannot speak highly enough of both the Team Performance,individuals performances and the Management. It won’t be one of my longest reports because I just don’t have the time today having not got in till after 2am and having a busy day in front of me but it is without doubt the most pleasing report I have written this season and how we have come away from a beautiful Stadium against a top team with only a point is just unbelievable because for about 70 minutes of that game we were superior in every position and the ironic thing is that it even looked like we might come back with nothing which would have been a total kick in the teeth. It is amazing that particularly in the second half it was just wave after wave of attacks and everytime a ball was cleared back we came ,winning the ball and starting again with every player showing the ability they have when on form. Come the end of the game I could not split between 5 players for Man of the Match and will not try to because it was just a great game and the standard of football we played was as good as anything we have played this season or any season for a long time. Some would probably find cases for the rest of the players and I would not dispute any of them as we were that good. The players and Management fully deserved the rapturous applause received from the near 900 travelling gasheads at the end of the game because in all honesty a 4-1 win would not have been unfair based on what I witnessed last night and as for the noise it was hard to believe that Bolton had 12 times our support.
If you could take away the goal conceded which about four players could take equal blame for as it was a pretty poor goal to concede then you would be left with a performance of great heights which really bad luck and the final finish were all that prevented a rout and the Bolton goal certainly lived a charmed life with some scrambles resembling a pin ball game but the bloody ball would not go in until the exceptional Byron Moore finish.
No fault in the goal, not a lot to do but what everything he did do was dealt with confidently.
A bit asleep on the goal but that apart he defended superbly and his pace and confidence on the ball was there for all to see.
Lockyer 9 MOM
Got better and better as the game went on and our defensive improvement since the defeat at Walsall is there for all to see as he led by example and didn’t really give the central Bolton strikers a sniff after their goal which he probably should have done better with.
Sweeney 9 MOM
same as Lockyer a mountain at the back and didn’t really give the attackers a sniff of a chance and unlucky not to score himself in the second half.
J. Clarke 8
Preferred to Harris who probably was rested as he increases his general fitness James had a good all round game after getting left for dead on the goal and used the ball very well and didn’t seem in any trouble after the goal.
Bodin 9 MOM
Didn’t score but his football skills were there for all top see, twisting,turning players left and right with silky footwork and last night he was as hard working as anybody and rarely loss the ball or gave it away. The only thing missing was one of his magical goals.
O. Clarke 9 MOM
Alongside Lines he gave another complete performance showing energy, great ability to win the ball and a willingness to bring it forward. His improvement this season has been nothing short of amazing and last night was probably one of his best.
Lines 9 MOM
A class performance which was highlighted by a supreme pass for the goal which was finished with similar expertise. He was head and shoulders above the Bolton midfielders whilst being one of many of our star performers that totally dominated the game.
Some Bolton supporters on the way out were saying how superb he was but for me it was a good performance with touches of class and hard work to regain possession and some good exchanges with Ellis but not as spectacular as the contribution of some others. Personally I would start him every game because he does give us width and an unknown factor about our play as well as the ease with which he brings the ball under control and drifts into space. It was a shame that he failed to make contact with a good pass that eluded him around the penalty spot as he does deserve to get a goal. I loved the way that he shook every players hand when coming on the pitch at the end which for me showed the team spirit that DC has generated when you think that Christian does not get selected as much as he probably deserves.
Sinclair 9 MOM
I have been critical of not so much his performances but more of the way he has been used but last night he was a class act in everything he did. Fought for every ball, retained possession and showed real skill in doing so. On a couple of occasions only the finish was missing as he twisted and turned and on numerous occasions beat the Bolton players. it was good to watch and see his ability last night match his whole heartiness and commitment to the cause.
How on earth did Ellis miss the open goal when his excellent work disposed the keeper and left him with a clear path to goal and from where I was sat the easy task of running the ball into the empty goal? Perhaps I am being harsh on him as it is difficult from the far end of the pitch to actually confidently say how easy a chance it was however he succeeded in putting the ball wide. That aside it was a hard working performance from a player who looked keen to put his error at the weekend behind him as he fought for every ball until he was “taken out” by a terrible tackle that surely warranted a straight red and surely if it had been an away player making that challenge it would have meant an early bath. Instead it left Ellis being the one to take an early bath.
Subs: James 8
Luke’s best performance so far in the quarters as at last he looked the part and looked a really good player with tight control and pace and was really unlucky after twisting through to put in a cross cum shot that went across the face of goal needing only a tap in. it must also be pointed out that the quality of the service he received was better than any of his previous games and this really makes me think that he should be given a good run in the side.
Moore 8 What a sublime goal which really makes you hope that this is now what Byron can give us. It was a brilliant pass from Chris Lines but nothing can take away from the classy finish where he dinked the ball over the quickly advancing diving keeper and in the far corner of the net to the delight of the travelling swarms. It really was a finish of the highest quality and it could be just the confidence boost he needed as he continued to tease the Bolton defenders when he received the ball after and put in a couple of dangerous crosses.
What a following on an awful Tuesday night. Vocal support throughout and deserved the performance that we all witnessed last night. Amazing that in a 13000 crowd we totally outsang the home crowd who like their team were totally second best all night.
Was Ok but should have red carded the Bolton player for the foul on Ellis and was about as lenient as the referee we had Saturday. The funny thing was that Bolton fans seemed equally unhappy with him which was amazing as in my opinion we were the ones on the end of the poor decisions and Bolton were luckyk to maintain parity in numbers until the last couple of minutes.
Bolton 6 Obviously a much better team than they looked last night to be so high riding but were second best by a good distance after they took the lead which also was probably against the run of play.
DC Cannot criticise anything that occurred last night and to get us through this incredibly difficult fixture list unbeaten so far in February is really top class. In truth we have deserved more points from the last 7 games which has given us 9 points but I think to get to the Play Offs now would be an even greater achievement to that achieved in the last two years but more performances like last night will see us achieve a top ten finish and good signs that we can continue to move forward next season.
So we move on to another exceptionally difficult game on Saturday against a very strong Oxford side who seem to be getting better and better. On the positive side it has been a happy hunting ground in recent years but even a point would be a good result but another performance like last night and we could bring the three points home. I would certainly be seriously thinking about fielding an unchanged team from the one that started last night but the selection is in very capable hands.UTG