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Mullet added 19:01 - Jan 20

Trotting on up to Bolton Town were looking to get back to top six contention. The addition of two loanees who had spent this season at either end of the division, saw one in the side and one on the bench. Returning to goal, and thunderous applause as he walked into it in front of the few hundred away games was Bart.

Iorfa on the right, inside of him new boy Carter-Vickers, and surprisingly Chambers on the left. Knudsen outside of them. Connolly and Skuse sat, Celina, McGoldrick and Waghorn the three supporting actors behind Joe Garner’s amateur dramatics.

Matching up Bolton who had the colossal Madine at the forefront of their attack, it took less than a minute for him to chest the ball out from between a centre-back sandwich. Vela skipped on and smashed a low effort of Bart’s shins. If there was uncertainty in the stands at the sight of Chambers the wrong side of his partner, it was squared when he was also the wrong side of his man.

Town took time to settle, and like the weather; their play for almost all of the game was patchy. The most notable shot on goal came from Ameobi when he cut inside and chanced a low drive inside of Bart’s near post. The Pole prodded it away all too easily given how threatening it had appeared. Ultimately it meant little.

Up top, our lone striker had thrown himself into everything as usual, but typically not the referee’s good books. The home fans grew tired of Garner’s floor show all too soon as he appealed for everything but a place on the scoresheet.

When the Blues did get going their looser approach to the idea of ‘matching up’ often saw Waghorn overlapping into dead ends, or Celina more withdrawn and central. Coming deep and not firing seemed to be an irritating pattern to his play today. Some nice flicks up but rarely over centre backs like Wheater will never see us cut teams asunder no matter where they sit in the league, or their own box.

Whilst Buckley got very little joy out of the athletic attentions of Iorfa, besides an early cut inside and rifle over the bar, Ameobi caught the eye again, then his own standing foot as he crashed down on the turf when a goal-bound shot looked promising. Town’s defence had looked superb or at least comfortable individually, but when called upon as a unit we scrambled and struggled against the business of Vela and bulk of Madine.

CCV checked out his new team mates and started a lovely move with a cross-quadrant long ball that draws polite applause. Chambers contrasted, with a failure to launch much of anything without the white line on his right to guide him. One horrifying moment saw the ball come back to him under little pressure and he gave it to an onrushing attack. These were the finer moments that nearly cost Town points today.

The captain would nearly redeem himself with the second of two well won-corners first from the work of right back, then target man. Chambers thundering a low van Basten rip off at Alnwick. The stopper claiming a handy stop to keep things level.

As the half went by, and things rarely got more interesting than the drills players were doing during a lengthy injury after 5 mins. Town seemed to realise that stretching Bolton might cause them to break. A good move and Celina with a rare threat found Skuse at the back post. The fact that all of our attackers had drawn their men out with runs wide meant Town lost all elasticity and failed to spring back to meet the waiting the ball. An easy finish was supplanted by an easy clearance.

Skuse had earlier succumbed to a naughty stab at his leg by a churlish Madine. The man that Bolton looked to for everything, was always likely to be involved in everything. Having lost the ball, he lost his head and was always going to get a card.

It would be far more telling than any bouncing ball or half chance. Celina had weighted a touch behind Little and ran off the pitch to get past him and make good on the run. Waghorn did a mini scorpion kick on the other side to start a counter that was as fortuitous as it was always going to fizzle out. Such was the way the half had gone.

When the teams returned for the second Skuse did not. Gleeson became the 4th loan to enter the pitch, and the second one to make his debut for the blues. His first action was to win the ball, look for the return only to watch the consistently off-colour McGoldrick play another pass to the wrong place.

Indeed, as late as 75 mins the number 10 was missing Iorfa and letting him take the pelters from fans sick of seeing the simple ball put behind the runner and out of play yet again. By then we had looked less like a team starting to gel and more like one scabbing over. Knudsen on the other side was rarely beaten but only got forward far enough to be flagged offside. Celina tried too hard, to find a cut inside or chip over the top without the effort of looking first.

It had been at least 20 minutes since Madine had given the home side the lead and a reason to sit back. Who else but the combative jailbird would unlock our defence? A whipping cross inside from their Evertonian, a flick by Vela which could have gone anywhere, dropped to the striker all on his own with a simple slam past Bart. Up until then Town had been pressing with chances since the restart.

From the second kick-off of the half Town had a chance to equalise. A good move saw the midfield shift the balance of play and sent away McGoldrick. With Waghorn rushing into the centre for an easy tap in, our #10 pre-empted the finish and not the run and rolled the ball to a grateful Alnwick at the near post. The suspicion that his legs were going, gathered a lot more evidence today.

Town had threatened from distance, but in the rain and dark moaning floating on the wind, it seemed each move was set to break down. The Trotters had another free kick which could have given us more to do, Madine capped a move with a nod to the side netting, but possession rather than impetus had all been blue.

When the goal did come, it was worth the wait. 80 or so mins of not showing up, saw Garner start deep on the right, Gleeson took on the carrying duties. McGoldrick and Waghorn danced and overlapped, and finally the passes went right. Who else but Garner would crash home from close range, to cap a delightful piece of play. It was a candle flickering in the gloom of a forgettable game.

Town could, and maybe should have stolen an undeserved victory. Iorfa who had put in a much-changed shift today, began a move that saw Waghorn direct a diagonal run into three defenders. With the overlap from Garner on, he spun and smashed the ball of the post. Alnwick was helpless and so was the sense of hope that we’d walk back to the car with a spring in our step.

Sears replaced the disappointing Celina late on and Hyam saw out the last two kicks of the match as Connolly was withdrawn for the final time today. It was a poor display from a Town side who had the personnel rather than the personality to put the hurt on Bolton today. Little came off for us and there was little to take away, other than we stand still when a likely stumbling block looked to be in our way for most of the afternoon.


slowerball added 23:08 - Jan 20

This game was awful, bar the last five minutes when we took the initiative, far, far too late in the game. Lordy, we have some very ordinary players. A draw away at Bolton really isn't good enough. Far too many errors and silly fouls. Lump it forward to the big man Garner... Perhaps if we had a big man up top, maybe that lad at Barnsley, what's his name..... Moore, that's it. Waghorn almost won it with a moment of quality. Would have been a tad unfair on Bolton. My word, Iorfa was dreadful, Knudsen brainless, a poor decision maker, clueless in forward positions. We haven't a clue on throw ins, no movements, no ideas, we simply throw it and hope, once plan A - Skuse running towards the thrower to knock it back - has been sussed out by the opposition. The new boys had their introductions. Cameron was ordinary, Gleeson no better and no worse than what we have, albeit we at least have more bodies.

I really don't know where we go from here, so near but so far. I still feel that a decent signing is required, one where we actually pay a fee. Yes, we have been unlucky with injuries, of that there is no doubt, but a key signing at this stage may give us that extra push we need to reach the top six.

Positives: crikey, tough one. Bart made an excellent save from a free kick and the goal was the best move of the game, showing we can actually do it.

Sam added 07:57 - Jan 21

Was not at the game, but only rescuing a draw at a team who will probably go down is awful. TIME FOR CHANGE.

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