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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » Verdict: Issues to iron out and a fair way to go for Wanderers

Verdict: Issues to iron out and a fair way to go for Wanderers

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Tee to green, Wanderers were good, an analogy used by Ian Evatt.

On this performance it was clear where the holes were, with plenty to iron out and a fair way to go before they can start putting together a run that will see them climb the League Two leaderboard.

Instead the Wanderers were left wondering as another game home game passed without incident.

No goal, no shot on target, no real change, other than a first clean sheet, and home point, of the campaign. The biggest frustration comes with the fact the platform was there after an encouraging end to the first half.

At times felt very much look football by numbers, Wanderers stuck rigidly to their 3-4-3 formation throughout, utilising the same patterns of play with a hope that repetition would help find a way through the Mariners.

The team is built around their points of difference at the top end of the pitch and allowing them the freedom to flourish, but they couldn’t produce for their manager when it mattered, with now a return of just two goals from five matches.

All it needed was a little bit of imagination, or piece of individuality, to break through, and given Grimsby’s three-week lockdown, one goal might well have been enough to break their spirit.

In the end, their confidence only grew as time wore on, and they looked the most likely to break the deadlock by the end.

Eoin Doyle scored his first goal for the club seven days earlier, but managed just 29 touches across the course of 90 minutes. In fairness to him, too often he found himself in a position similar to that of the Grimsby players in recent weeks: isolated, with no-one willing to take the risk and run beyond him.

Evatt has put his faith in the striker, and Nathan Delfouneso behind him, with the pair having started all five league matches so far, but it was Ali Crawford, the third part of the attacking trio, whose flashes of energy and drive posed the greatest threat.

The Scot came the closest of any Whites player to producing something special, fizzing two free-kicks narrowly wide of the target, the second five minutes before the break leaving goalkeeper James McKeown rooted to the spot.

The Grimsby stopper could lay claim to have had an earlier effort, from 30 yards, covered, and in truth he wasn’t overly extended on a game which looked destined for 0-0 from a long way out.

That was despite a promising end to the first half for Wanderers, Jak Hickman, who was the one change from the side that won at Harrogate, a constant outlet. He tried to make use of the positions he got into, never afraid to get the ball out of his feet and deliver, but wasn't consistent enough with his quality into the box.

Evatt recognised down the right would be a source of joy for his side, bellowing ‘that’s where the space is’ as early as the 13th minute.

That didn’t go unnoticed in the opposite dugout, Ian Holloway noticing as much, changing to a flatter midfield, rather than the more fluid narrow quartet that struggled to contain Wanderers’ wide threat late in the first half.

The home players sprinted off the pitch as the half time whistle went, and the hope was that they would emerge able to build on their promising finish to the half.

Sadly, the two Crawford free kicks, and another effort that was well blocked, were as good as it got in an attacking sense.

Defensively, for the opening 80 minutes they looked untroubled, Ricardo Santos a commanding figure in the heart of the back three, while infront of him Andrew Tutte looks a player who can make the side tick.

Visiting full back Luke Hendrie was first to take strike at goal in both halves, and would be the player with the greatest claim to have had a shot on target.

He ghosted in down the right in the 19th minute as Wanderers were caught ball-watching, with Billy Crellin alert at his near post to save with his legs.

The second half strike was much easier for the Wanderers No.1 who was able to watch a 25-yarder over his crossbar, something that could be said for most of the Mariners’ nine attempts.

As the game meandered the hope would be that impetus from the bench could make the difference.

While Grimsby made their three changes at the top end of the pitch, for Wanderers it was as like-for-like, with Evatt’s alterations coming in the wing-back positions, and a straight swap between Brandon Comley and Tutte.

Grimsby’s changes made a difference, Wanderers’ simply added to what had gone before, though Evatt did point out his options were restricted with Shaun Miller and Lloyd Isgrove both among the absentees.

When Wanderers should have been putting their foot to the pedal, they were in reverse, with the Mariners looking the most likely to steal it late on.

Let’s not forget this was a Grimsby team who hadn’t played since September 19 because of Covid related issues, boss Holloway revealing a drop in his players’ fitness levels replicated something similar to three months out injured.

The stretched end to the game suited them having added pace to a frontline that had looked previously bereft of life, and but for some wild finishing, and last-gasp tackles from Alex Baptiste and Santos, Wanderers could have been staring at another home defeat.

The referee must have enjoyed it anyway, playing beyond the six minutes of injury time that had been signalled, but by then, even the hope of a shot on target had fizzled out.

And so a game between a team still looking for their first home goal, and another their first of the season, ended goalless. About par for the course of the 90 minutes.

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Natasha Whittam

Natasha Whittam
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

I realise the site has gone quiet again, but putting "news" in the banter section is making things worse.

Please stick all non-original posts in the "news" section and leave the others for original thoughts and abuse.

This is a forum after all.

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