Bullish Bolton beat Bristol City
- 3rd February 2018
After Bolton Wanderers’ 1-0 win over Bristol City on Friday night, it was goalscorer Sammy Ameobi who got most of the adulation from fans and was named by the TV commentators as man-of-the-match.
Few will deny that Ameobi had a great evening. He combined nicely with Mark Little down the right in the first half hour - and there are not too many Bolton players who have scored better goals from open play this season than his second half long-range winner.
Just as deserving of the plaudits though were Bolton’s three centre-backs: Dorian Dervite, David Wheater and Mark Beevers. The latter two, who were models of consistency during last season’s League One promotion campaign, weren’t certain to start.
Wheater was recovering from a groin injury while Beevers has only recently been given the all clear after being struck down with appendicitis, yet no casual observers would have guessed either had endured fitness problems.
Wheater dominated Famara Diedhiou in the air, Beevers put his body on the line while Dervite was equally impressive. The ex-Charlton defender has had his critics at this level in previous seasons but he read the game superbly and was quick to close own opposing forwards, forcing them away from dangerous areas.
The trio were protected well by Derik Osede, who excelled at closing off advanced space for Ryan Kent while Karl Henry, despite technical limitations, battled admirably.
The Trotters needed a small helping of luck along the way: Ben Alnwick could easily have conceded a seventh minute penalty for a foul on Bobby Reid, which the referee gave the other way. Alnwick then came up trumps in the second half, producing a fine reflex save to deny Diedhiou.
The talk pre-match had been about how much Phil Parkinson’s side would miss top scorer Gary Madine – and the absence of a like-for-like replacement means this is still a valid issue.
However, what new boy Tyler Walker lacked in physicality he made up for in mobility. The striker got to loose balls with ease and pressed very quickly at the right moments while another exciting Nottingham Forest loanee, Zach Clough, showed his silky-footwork after coming on the bench.
Ameobi had some fine individual moments for Bolton, but this victory was very much a team effort.