Bolton Wanderers Football Club Fan Forum for all BWFC Supporters.

You are not connected. Please login or register

Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Port Vale - Marc Iles's big match verdict

Reply to topic

Go down  Message [Page 1 of 1]


Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

Folk were singing “Que Sera, Sera” as the Wembley-bound Wanderers walked out on to the pitch to face Port Vale but Ian Evatt and his players will know full well it has to be better than this.

Exceptions can be made this week considering the punishing schedule of a trip to Wycombe and a knockout semi-final at Accrington left the Whites with only two clear days to prepare.

But Bolton are playing for high stakes now and if they want to be playing Championship football next season – which surely takes precedence, even ahead of the Papa Johns Trophy – then they have to find a way to push through the pain barrier.

They had just enough to trump plucky Port Vale, playing way below their normal standard, but will surely find Portsmouth less hospitable opponents at Fratton Park on Tuesday night.

Evatt was taking charge of his 150th game at Bolton, and while there have been several occasions in that two-and-a-half year reign that his side has played well but emerged with nothing, it is rare to see them take three points and feel somewhat undeserving, refreshing, even.

Wanderers have been an ‘all or nothing’ side for most of the manager’s time in charge and many, including myself, have questioned their intestinal fortitude in scrappy games like this where control in possession is rare and the outcome boils down to basics like winning aerial duels, second balls and not conceding too many free kicks around your own penalty box.

In truth, Bolton did not do a great job in any of those categories against Vale, at least for the first 45 minutes, but somehow found themselves 2-1 up at the interval.

There had already been a few sloppy passes out from the back by the time Ricardo Santos played a poor ball straight to Matty Taylor eight minutes in, and Ellis Harrison opened the scoring via a low ball from Ben Garrity.

It was the first home goal that James Trafford had conceded in 16-and-a-half hours of solid football in all competitions, and it is to the Manchester City goalkeeper’s huge credit that he immediately set about building another streak, making some important saves throughout.

Shola Shoretire had been cup-tied on Wednesday night, and though he had been fresh on his reintroduction to the side, the Manchester United playmaker was swallowed up by the midfield melee, suited more to the graft and grit of Kyle Dempsey, who also made a welcome return from injury.

Victor Adeboyejo also had to sit out at Accrington, having played for Burton earlier in the competition, and his hard running in the first half did not go unnoticed by the Wanderers fans, many of whom have patiently reserved judgement on him since signing in January.

The 25-year-old striker plays the game like he enjoys it but having failed to score in his first five appearances for the club, he knew it wouldn’t be too long before minds started to be made up. As such, the timing of his first goal could not have been better.

Quick thinking from Josh Sheehan to play in Randell Williams from a corner ended with the wing-back darting to the by-line and crossing for Adeboyejo to prod in his 14th goal of the season overall.

Back in touch, Bolton did start to move the ball around with something like their usual swagger. And not 10 minutes later Adeboyejo laid off a perfect ball on the edge of the box for Sheehan to drill home neatly for his first goal since scoring from the spot against Crewe in November 2021.

A third would probably have killed the game off completely. Vale, impressively resourceful throughout, refused to let that happen.

The first half was relentless and exactly the sort of high-energy affair Bolton could have done well without having played against two of League One’s most dynamic sides in their last two games.

Part of that flow came from referee Will Finnie, whose leniency on the day was truly noteworthy. Not only did he keep his cards in his pocket all day – presuming, that is, he remembered to pick them up on his way out of the house – but he also let much of the physical stuff from both sides go. It was a confusing policy at times, yet when we complain so often about officials breaking up the game for every infringement, is it really right to complain?

Evatt saw the way the game was heading and brought on some experience from the bench in Dion Charles and Gethin Jones, withdrawing Shoretire and Luke Mbete. This was not the arena for fresh faces.

Thankfully, Vale also slowed in the second half. Trafford had to stay switched on, making saves from Matty Taylor and Tom Conlon to match the ones from Harrison and Garrity in the first half, but the gradual addition of fresh legs from the bench was just enough to keep Bolton in the ascendancy.

Adeboyejo limped off midway through the second half but later assured reporters that it was only an impact injury and that he would be in contention to face Portsmouth. Dan Nlundulu also made a welcome return after his hamstring injury and must now work hard to get himself in top shape to make an impact in the run-in.

Evatt managed to save just enough to know he can make changes at Fratton Park and still have enough quality to get a result. After that, it may well be a case of who is left standing when the Whites go to Morecambe on Saturday.

Wanderers have something to look forward to in April but their four games before that point will go a long way towards shaping their destiny, most notably the meetings with Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday. The team simply must keep itself on the boil in the league and put all cup thoughts out of their mind for the time being. Let the fans sing about Wembley – there’s a job to be done.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

Back to top  Message [Page 1 of 1]

Reply to topic

Permissions in this forum:
You can reply to topics in this forum