Our players seemed to have returned home with the Spanish attitude of ‘manana’ – tomorrow will do. There was a distinct lack of urgency about them in the first half. They all seemed to be leaving things to one another and no-one was willing to take responsibility in a poor 45 minutes.
It seemed to us that they did not know which system or marking they were using- zonal or man-to-man – and Bolton succeeded in muscling us out of the game. Yet again we lost out to set pieces through poor defending.
Mistakes cost us dearly and by half time the team was rapidly losing the crowd. During the break – unlike against Wolves – no-one could see us getting back in to the match and fans were beginning to wonder if changes to the starting line-up had been make purely for the sake of change. Why, they asked, had the manager changed a team that had recently enjoyed such a good run?
It was lucky that we scored early in the second half, because this lifted the team and the crowd and the Reds soon added an equalising goal.
Immediately everyone thought that we would then be the team to go on and win and, if O’Brien had scored, we probably would have gained three valuable points. Unfortunately, the old frailties of poor marking and defending at free kicks surfaced one again and proved our downfall.
However, on the much improved second half performance we probably deserved a draw.
We cannot understand why Melllis is not in the starting line-up. In comparison, Tunnicliffe was rather ineffectual. There were also times when, apart from Perkins, we didn’t have a midfield and – although he tries his utmost – even he cannot be everywhere at once.
We coped better with Bolton’s physical tactics in the second half and they were obviously worried towards the end because they took off a centre-forward and replaced him with a centre half and went five across the back. They also displayed gamesmanship in the dying minutes with ‘injury’ stoppages.
We were much more positive and attack minded in the second half but were really guilty of throwing at least one point away – as so often with poor marking and defending. It is essential that this is tightened up, especially at set pieces.
Steel made some good saves but was probably to blame in some measure for the last goal, which proved the winner.
All in all, a very disappointing afternoon. A poor first half, a better second half, with mistakes costing us dearly in our fight for survival.