From My Seat: A Fans View Of Bolton V Bristol City

  • October 22, 2012 | By Robert Hurst
  • URL Short URL:

In the first of a new series, Robert Hurst gives us his first person view of events from Bolton's 3-2 victory over Bristol City on Saturday.

What a difference 8 days of intense training can make. Sure, we’ve put in a few decent performances over the last 12 months, but I haven't come away from the Reebok this pleased since we battered Stoke last season.

OK, so it wasn't perfect. We conceded two goals that could have, and should have, been prevented, but it's incredible how well the same group of players performed under a different manager.

Their first was a cracker, but it came about because of some weak defending. The corner taker passed the ball to a player running out of the box, while Mark Davies stood and watched. City then had time to pass it around and then whip a cross in to Steven Davies, who, despite having three white shirts around him, managed to jump and slam an overhead volley into the corner.

My immediate thought was of course 'What a bloody good goal', but then I remembered that Owen Coyle had been sacked and so this shouldn't be the norm any more. Only three-and-a-half minutes into the post-Coyle era, we had already conceded a soft goal and it would get worse.

20 minutes later, Martyn Woolford sauntered into the box and was tripped by Tim Ream. From where I was sat, it looked a soft decision. Whether it was the right call or not, Steven Davies got his second of the match, knocking the penalty past Bogdan.

By this point, I thought we were in for a thrashing. City looked much more dangerous on the attack and our defence was about as useful as a chocolate teapot. The City fans, who weren’t on their best behaviour on Saturday, sang the classic 'We're winning away, we're winning away, how s*** must you be, we're winning away!' to add to the home fans' misery.

But then shone a glimmer of hope. Half-an-hour into the match, Chris Eagles was tripped just outside the box and the referee finally gave us a free kick. As Eagles stepped up, the bloke next to me said, 'I reckon he's gonna go for power' and he was right. Wanderers' top scorer stepped up and thumped the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.

After the goal, we regained some composure and, going into half time, we looked the better team. As the half time whistle blew, the only jeers from the home fans were aimed at the referee. Happy days.

I found it quite strange that the substitutes took about 10 minutes to come out onto the pitch to warm up at half time. Messrs Phillips, Lee and Darby must have been giving quite a speech and it showed in the second half.

The only change made at the break was Mears growing a pair and taking his gloves off. The players emerged for their now seemingly customary warm up, which was greeted by a couple of grumbles around me. I can't for the life of me see why. Surely it does the players more good than just coming out from 15 minutes sat down and getting straight back into a competitive match? And judging by the start they made to the half, it worked.

The players came racing out of the traps at the start of the best 45 minutes of football that I've seen Bolton produce for over a year. In comparison to the levels they've shown over the first 10 games of the season, the amount of effort and belief amongst our players was astonishing. Rather than one attack every five minutes or so, it was a torrent of Bolton attacks bombarding the Bristol City goal.

We should have scored more really. Certain players seem to have a fear of having a shot. Instead, they just fanny around with the ball, or just pass to another player. By the time they actually have a shot, there are enough opposition players back to make scoring virtually impossible. But when Super Kevin Davies played a delightful ball to Jay Spearing's feet, the young Liverpool loanee made no mistake and placed it into the bottom left of the goal. The comeback was almost complete.

By the 70 minute mark, the levels of enthusiasm from the Wanderers players hadn't dipped and in most cases, neither had their energy. The extra training clearly paid off, which begs the question: 'Why in God's name didn't Owen Coyle do this kind of training when he was in charge?'. The fitness of the players in this game, compared to all other games this season, was phenomenal! Normally, the players would be getting weary at the 60 minute mark. I'd always moan at Coyle for leaving it until 70 minutes to make a substitution, but in this match, we simply didn't need to make a change.

By the 80th minute, there were a couple of players who looked a little worn out. Benik Afobe being the most noticeable.

Opinions on him seem to be 50/50. Personally, I don't think he's good enough. He is a typical young Arsenal player. All pace and no skill. Yeah, he gets about the pitch, but when he does get the ball, he either dithers with it or takes an appalling touch, and the opposition get the ball and break. Marvin Sordell isn't world class, but I'd rather see him start than Afobe.

Chungy came on for Afobe after 80 minutes and was involved in a strong contender for goal of the month. Some wonderful play between Eagles, Chungy and Petrov led to the latter being one-on-one with the 'keeper. He took a touch and hit a sweet curling shot past Tom Heaton to put Wanderers deservedly into the lead. The celebrations from both the players and fans showed how much the goal meant. We were back on track, playing good football and scoring good goals.

Even the appearance of Darren Pratley for the last five minutes didn't dampen spirits around the Reebok. Don't get me wrong, he's an OK player, but he is similar to Afobe in that he runs around, but never does anything with the ball - funnily enough, he also came through Arsenal's academy.

We managed to survive a few late attacks to deservedly win the game, and Jimmy Phillips, Sammy Lee and Julian Darby deserve big credit for that.

It's something when your academy staff are better than your former manager. They showed great tactical awareness and seemed to motivate the players more than Coyle ever did. Of course, we will face tougher teams than Bristol City, but the comeback will do wonders for player confidence. If we can get 3 or 4 points from our next two games, tough tests at Wolves and Middlesbrough, Jimmy and co should be in with a serious shout for the permanent job.

Of the players, the midfield was by far the strongest area. Eagles took a while to get into the game, but, when he did, he played well and even showed some flair - pulling off back heels and robanas. Silky skills indeed, although most of them lead to us losing the ball. Martin Petrov more than justified his place in the starting eleven. An enthusiastic performance, topped with a cracking goal. Mark Davies played a lot better than he has done in the past couple of months. He still went missing far too often though. Spearing had one of his quieter games in a white shirt, but did a good enough job and took his goal well.

I think I've already made my feelings towards Afobe clear and I think Sordell, if fit, should start instead of him next match. Kevin Davies put in another solid performance, making some great tackles and winning plenty of headers. I still don't think he is being used to his full potential though. Many a time SKD has made a great flick-on only for there to be nobody there.

The defence confuses me to be honest. None of them are particularly bad players, yet they just fall apart at times. Stephen Warnock was in the England squad that went to South Africa for the World Cup two years ago. I think he’s a great player - certainly more solid at left back than Alonso. Mears is a bit hit and miss, but, to be fair, he's only just come back from a season out with a broken leg. Ream and Mills are decent players. Ream's heading ability isn't great, but he's fairly pacy and he's young, so there's still time for him to improve. Mills is OK at defending, but his long balls are either shocking or sublime. They both deserve a place ahead of Zat Knight, that's for sure. Apparently he didn't turn up until 1:45 and was dropped immediately. Thank God for that.

Overall, a great game. Certainly the most enjoyable I've been too for a while. When was the last time we came back from two goals down? The last time I can think of is when we drew 2-2 with Blackpool at home a couple of seasons ago.

I'd love it for Jimmy to do well and get the job. He showed a lot of promise in his first game in charge. Let's just hope he can keep it up and keep us on the road to recovery.

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
11 Ipswich Town 20 27
12 Cheltenham Town 19 27
13 Bolton Wanderers 20 26
14 Accrington Stanley 19 24
15 Charlton Athletic 20 23
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2020/21 Player of the Year?
56.86% Ricardo Santos
17.79% Matt Gilks
10.64% Alex Baptiste
9.94% Eoin Doyle
2.52% Antoni Sarcevic
1.54% Gethin Jones
0.42% Nathan Delfouneso
0.28% Ryan Delaney