Bolton Match Zone

Defensive Issues Rear Their Head With A Vengeance As Bolton Hit For Six

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The first question on everyone’s lips would probably be ‘What on earth was that?’ – or words much, much stronger than that.

For the first time ever today, we conceded six goals at our current home, as Port Vale were at one point 6-1 up, before we scored a couple of goals, to be make it almost respectable. And ‘almost respectable’ would still be quite a generous way of describing it.

It came as a massive shock given our recent winning run. Only one change was made to the starting lineup, an enforced one at that, with Andrew Tutte being replaced by George Thomason. It was a hard day for Thomason, who at least tried to play decent balls from midfield. Maybe at times it was a little too ambitious, spraying balls out wide, but many wanted Tutte’s replacement to not go backwards too much and that wish was granted.

The big problem was at the back. So much better in recent weeks, today saw a massive regression to the days of September and October, Ricardo Santos seemed to be targeted, and it worked, unable to pick anyone up, but also giving the ball away when he had been good on the ball, and would give away the penalty too.

We were 2-0 down in 10 minutes. There was too much distance between the outside centre-backs and the wing-backs, and Port Vale killed us early doors with low crosses. Peter Kioso was dragged away from Cristian Montano who was able to cross for Manny Oyeleke for the first goal. Matt Gilks made a couple of saves as well, but Leon Legge would still make it two.

Gethin Jones, who found space quite often, at least got one back, then for the following half hour we actually didn’t look that bad, with Antoni Sarcevic and Eoin Doyle having shots and we also went close from a corner at the near post.

But we went to concede the aforementioned penalty, and if it wasn’t already bad enough, it completely fell apart after the break, with a further three goals in 17 minutes. Vale had six different scorers as well, which is another unwanted record for us.

With chances going forward though, it wasn’t too much of a shock to at least get some goals on the board. Doyle, who had to drop deep all afternoon to make opportunities for himself, scored again at least, before Lloyd Isgrove, one of four subs to come on in a single sitting early in the second half, crashed home a volley, but ultimately today was a massive bucket of cold water over the head after a decent few weeks.

The worrying thing was how the backline was got at, Vale seemed to have a plan for Santos and it unsettled him, and while it may be an unpopular call, maybe starting White at Walsall next week might not be the stupidest option, just to keep things safe and tight.

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