It was a bad day at the office for Mark Robins’ side at crisis-club Bolton.
It may have been the Bolton team which was full of youngsters, but they seemed more street-wise than the Sky Blues as they broke up play, picked up tatical bookings when required, and wasted time to frustrate City on a bitterly disappointing afternoon in the north-west.
It seems harsh to be critical when you look at the stats, but when you come up against a team with an average age of just 19, a goalless draw isn’t good enough. Let’s not go overboard, but there couldn’t have been a single City fan amongst the travelling SBA who would have taken a 0-0 draw before the game.
However, it’s important that we keep a perspective on the game – we are only two games into the season, we are yet to concede a goal, we remain unbeaten, and have 4 points on the board after two games, yet, without doubt, it was a case of two points dropped at the University of Bolton stadium on a wet and miserable Saturday afternoon…in fact, as we left the stadium it felt more like a defeat.
Although we need to avoid any unnecessary hysteria, fans have every right to comment upon individual games and performances, but it’s probably best to forget yesterday and move on to the next challenge – Exeter in the cup on Tuesday night.
Mark Robins’ comments after the game were slightly baffling. Were all managers in League 1 really thankful that they weren’t playing Bolton yesterday? I’d have thought any team in League 1 would have fancied playing Bolton in their current state. We weren’t playing the team they fielded last week at Wycombe which contained five senior players (all of whom, it was claimed, refused to play), we weren’t even playing their u-23 team, more like their u-18s. Yes, the offside decisions were dubious, but surely we should have been good enough to put the game to bed regardless of the actions of the officials?
It’s also arguable whether the atmosphere was a factor. Did the Bolton fans get behind their team to the extent of influencing the result? Barely 7,000 of them attended, and they sang sporadically during the game. It wasn’t exactly a Galatasary-style ‘Welcome to Hell’ situation, in fact, it most certainly wasn’t an intimidating atmosphere in any sense of the word.
The major disappointment was that we never imposed ourselves on Bolton. A high tempo from the off may have resulted in the goal which would surely have deflated the Bolton youngsters, but slow starts in both halves meant that the initiative was lost. It would be interesting to know what the tactics and team talks were prior to, and during, the game.
The decision to stick with a 4-3-3 formation, despite Bolton rarely coming out of their half, was also puzzling. Could last year’s player of the season, Dom Hyam have been put in a back three with McFadzean and Rose with the full backs pushing further forward? As the Sky Blues became more desperate, Max Biamou and new-boy Matt Godden were thrown into the fray, but rather than a front-line pairing, Biamou was positioned out on the left whilst Godden played down the middle. Perhaps the Bolton centre backs could have been presented with more of a challenge if we had a front two to keep them busy?
You can’t deny that we passed the ball well, but pretty patterns in and around the halfway line will not solve our long standing problem of scoring goals. Gervane Kastaneer’s return will add potency to our front line, but unless Robins and the backroom staff find a solution to the lack of goals, we will not improve on last season’s eighth place finish.
Full Time – Bolton 0-0 CCFC