In truth, it wasn’t different level as we have seen before, Portsmouth springs to mind in a 6-0 drubbing with Paul Merson and Co tearing us apart, but Bolton were just better in all areas than we were. It’s nothing to get too concerned about, I still believe we have a chance of being up there come May, this league is poor. Still, having been so close to promotion last time out, I expected us to give the Championships lowest placed team a bit of a game at least.
Paul Merson holds aloft the new arsehole he acquired from himself, torn from the Millwall defence at the Den in 2003 in a 0-6 reverse.
Don’t get me wrong, Bolton were nothing special. If we thought the hoofball was boring then Bolton’s style of play would have tipped some over the edge. In reality they ground us down and were just that bit better in all positions. The fact that we did not manage one meaningful attack said everything about the game, but then it wasn’t like Bolton battered us, apart from the goal (which I am pretty sure the shot wasn’t meant) a lucky flick on header against the bar, and sloppy marking from a set piece from the second, Bolton also rarely troubled Archer.
The Macron stadium, quite nice as it is for a modern ground, was quieter than the Den on a Tuesday JPT game, and who can blame them watching quite uninspiring Jackett like football. The most animated the home crowd got was a weird period around 50 mins where they all turned on the torches on their phones and waved them (no idea, and yes we did sing “what the ****ing hell is that”) and a brief period where a ‘score from the halfway line’ competition nearly won one local a “money can’t buy” prize of a hamper of pies.
A “money can’t buy” prize in Bolton, bless ’em.
It is concerning how we just weren’t able to match the level of Bolton, who by Championship standards are bottom half at best. Not taking anything away from Beever’s, who mopped up everything in the air all game. In the opposite half, Craig really did look average, and its eye opening how much we miss Beever’s in that back line. I also have some criticism of Harris here, because it wasn’t working, and Fred was never going to challenge Beever’s in the air, yet he continued to shout to his players to play it long. Also at 2 goals down, what really is the point of changing your left back, and then your centre mid with 3 mins to go? I would have sooner lost 4-0 and had a go, but it all seemed a bit lost on one dimensional Harris in the dugout.
“Up there” Harris shows his players where to aim every pass
As player ratings go, the only player I would rate more than a 5 (in Toby Porter fashion) would be Smith, who had a tough afternoon, but started to come into the game late on. For his third game that was a tough one, but he gave his all, and you could see him growing in confidence. Fred and Romeo linking in a rare attack that kept the ball on the deck, and Romeo ran himself into the ground. Gregory went off with a back injury and now worryingly we are threadbare up top. Strangely for Thompson, he was largely ineffective, in a mirror of his play off final performance. For a player like him you can allow 2 games in 2 years off, but it’s somewhat concerning that every game he has an off day, we are almost certain to lose.
Bolton now have to be my pick for automatic promotion, they are strong and organised and will bore most teams into submission, nick a goal whilst keeping it tight. A Kenny Jackett wet dream, but we all know how that went when we went up. Millwall on the other hand is still well up in the air, much like the ball in most games we play!
Oh well, roll on Tuesday!
Apologies for not attaching the link to the shirt auction last week. I was given the heads up that the club were auctioning the shirts worn from the game for remembrance Sunday for the British Legion, and I did not want to contest with them at the same time. The link is now attached below. Its a 10 day auction and every penny is going to ‘Mind’. Happy bidding.