Bolton Wanderers ended 2018 with a goalless draw against Stoke City, in a game where the Wanderers fans seemed much happier with the result than the travelling Potters.
We made changes again, some enforced through the Christmas schedule and injuries – the lesser-spotted Jonathan Grounds got a start and refreshingly wasn’t a liability, while the even lesser-spotted Luke Murphy found his way onto the bench – presumably getting to said bench by riding in on Shergar.
It was a match where we could claim to have been the better side, which is something that could have hardly been said often this season, particularly in the second half where we had a go. Jack Butland was in fine form for them, making saves from an improving Christian Doidge and a late stop from a Mark Beevers effort, but in truth Stoke were poor, with Joe Allen seemingly spending most of the time drifting from side to side, while even those people who for some reason find the need to boo James McClean for daring not to wear a poppy didn’t have that many opportunities to do so.
Josh Vela had a decent game too, as well as his pressing and harassing he used the ball fairly effectively too, while Sammy Ameobi proved a handful for the opposition too. Josh Magennis came on, but for some reason he was on long throw duty when it might be wiser to get him in the box for those.
Very importantly, we’re out of the drop zone for a few days at least, although 2019 starts with a trip to a Hull side in decent nick. Let’s hope the new year brings more positivity on and off the pitch.