As Bolton were taking to the field last night against Oxford, with 633 squadron blaring out of the speakers around the ground, the stadium announcer came on and said that ‘this is only the beginning.’
If that is indeed the case, sign me up because Keith Hill’s Bolton Wanderers looked incredible at times against Oxford.
For the first half-hour of the match, Bolton were absolutely dominant and looked almost certain to bag a goal or two. Sadly the goal never came but the new batch of Wanderers players certainly made their mark in the first home league match under Keith Hill.
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After the 6-1 hammering at the weekend, there were certainly one or two nerves going into the game which proved totally unfounded and Wanderers gave one of the best 0-0 performances in UniBol history, apart from maybe the one against Coventry.
Each player who took to the field for Bolton looked quick to settle in and created some excellent chances throughout the game. Chuck a couple of proper strikers in the team and we’ll be absolutely flying in no time.
But, without any further ado, here’s how we rated Bolton’s players last night.
Remi Matthews – 7
Looked a much safer pair of hands after shipping 28 goals in his previous six games. Wasn’t really tested too often but made some crucial saves and some nice catches when called upon.
Josh Emmanuel – 6
Going forward Emmanuel looked lively. Defensively, however, he looked very shaky throughout a lot of the first half but improved in the second period and through his weight into attackers a bit more.
Jack Hobbs – 7
Jack Hobbs was superb in the heart of Wanderers’ defence and made some crucial blocks and tackles throughout the game. The only blot on the copybook was a yellow card for scything down an Oxford attacker.
Jake Wright – 8
Very solid performance alongside Jack Hobbs. Was excellent throughout, threw himself into plenty of tackles and moved the ball on well.
Adam Chicksen – 7
The most recent of Bolton’s signings looked like an instant fit into Keith Hill’s side and played with a calmness that is rarely seen at full-back and made himself available for short goal kicks nice and often.
Liam Bridcutt – 9
It was certainly an eyebrow-raising moment when Liam Bridcutt was given the captaincy against Rotherham but after seeing him the flesh it’s no surprise at all. The midfielder was a class above the rest of the side and from his passing and communication to gusto tackles and work rate was top quality throughout.
Jason Lowe – 7
After starting on the bench against Rotherham, Jason Lowe has definitely made a strong claim to his starting place in the side. While he tired as the match wore on, Lowe looked assured on the ball and got plenty of pressing in throughout the game.
Ali Crawford – 7
The former Doncaster midfielder was full of running himself and in a more natural centre-midfield role looked a comfortable fit in the side.
Dennis Politic – 6
Politic had quite a quiet game in truth. He played out on the right-wing to facilitate Thibaud Verlinden in the side and wasn’t able to cut inside on his favoured right foot. A booking for diving, even though we’re sure he was fouled, didn’t help his cause either, unfortunately.
Thibaud Verlinden – 8
The Stoke loanee looks like a Premier League star in the making and brought a bit of much-needed flair to Wanderers last night. Although maybe tried one trick too many at times. A missed sitter with the last kick of the first half was the only low point in the game for Thibaud.
Will Buckley – 8
On his return to Bolton, Will Buckley was placed into the centre-forward role for Bolton as none of the side’s three first-team strikers are currently fit. Will was certainly full of running and created a few problems for the Oxford defence, not least the shot that cascaded back off the bar in the first half.
James Weir – 6
Came on in the 82nd minute for Thibaud Verlinden and brought some much-needed fresh legs into the game but failed to really make an impact in the 10 minutes he was on the pitch.
Ben Alnwick, Luke Murphy, Ronan Darcy, Yoan Zouma, Eddie Brown, Adam Senior.
Bolton are next in action on Saturday and have another tough test in the form of Sunderland.