Bolton fought back to earn a 1-1 draw at Exeter to pick up their point of 2021.
Wanderers’ team was slightly up in the air, after two COVID positives, plus some ins and outs in the early stages of the transfer market, but in the end nobody of significance was absent, except for the injured players we already knew about. Ian Evatt did move to a back four, with Harry Brockbank getting the nod at left-back. There was also a debut for Kieran Lee in a three-man midfield, and he’d go on to put in a solid shift in what we should remember will be his first competitive football in around six months.
Overall though, it was a poor 70 minutes. We came through the first half goalless, but not without some scares. Antoni Sarcevic gave the ball away a lot, Ryan Delaney was launching it too often for my liking, and while Matt Gilks made some great saves on the night and claimed a few crosses well, he was rounded by Ryan Bowman, who thankfully only hit the post. Our only real chances in the first half came from a harmless long-distance effort from Andrew Tutte, and then a much bigger chance for Eoin Doyle, who got free on the right, only for his shot across goal to be saved by Jonny Maxted.
That was still more than we did in the first part of the second half, and that’s when we went behind. Matt Jay managed to run up the byline, and whether it was because Delaney was scared to give away a penalty I don’t know, but a ball was put across, one that should have been dealt with but Ricardo Santos managed to turn it into his own net anyway.
The match changed with the introduction of Arthur Gnahoua in place of the ineffective Nathan Delfouneso, Gnahoua probably a more natural fit in a wide position. And while it’s a pretty low bar, Gnahoua may have put in the best performance by a sub this season. Fellow sub Crawford was key in a counter-attack, a ball finding Sarcevic who would have some positive impact on the game, a cross setting up Gnahoua for an equaliser. From there, we had our best spell of the match, Gnahoua heavily involved in it, missing a couple of chances to win the game, while Sarcevic put in a teasing cross that nobody got near.
Not that Exeter couldn’t have won it themselves, subs Nigel Atangana and Jack Sparkes both had late efforts, the former with an overhead kick, the latter with an effort saved by Gilks. In the end, a point probably that would have been taken pre-match and mid-way through the second half. It would just be nice if we could be bothered to play for an extended period of time however.