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Stay Hungry - Bolton Away report


blandy
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By Blandy

Some match reports are as easy to write as scoffing a kebab after a night out. The match might have been a veritable chilli sauce coated helping of juicy lamb and salad, perhaps with the pickled chilli peppers of classic goals or a simmering atmosphere to accompany it.

Other reports are rather more "school dinners" - all a bit of an effort, something you feel you know you should do, but which to be honest isn't that appetising, and in fact is something that's been said thousands of times before.

I'm afraid children, it's time for your overcooked cabbage and meat of indeterminate origin, with watery tapioca to follow. There's no Jamie Oliver round these parts.

So here we go.

After the (for me) short trip to the Reebok, followed by, naturally a couple of amenable pints with fellow VTers, Bickster, LancsVilla and Aston, it was a saunter to the ground and up to the top tier of the away end.

The first thing noticeable was the amount of empty seats in the place. The Trotters are clearly uninspired by the appointment of Megson and their rubbish start to the season, the Villans perhaps put off by the ridiculous prices, early kick off and TV showing. I mean what kind of git charges 32 quid for this type of game? "Your Ground's too big for you" we sang, and it is the way they're going. It can't have had 20,000 in it, which is pitiful.

Back to the culinary theme, and Villa's line up was a hotch-potch. Ozzy was in, theoretically on the right, Stan Petrov back in the middle, Shaun on the left, and Ashley supporting an isolated Gabby. Zat Knight luckily for him, kept his place.

The game was a sequence of disorganised play, little of quality happening. For us, the formation was a mess. The side unbalanced, the players appearing lost. Olly was getting skinned by Diouf, Ozzy was wandering inside, not getting tight on men, and when he found space, the easy ball to him was not forthcoming. Neither Ash, nor Shaun were really getting at players and Gabby was chasing lost causes. Stillian Petrov was the single player playing well for us. Personally, I was glad to see him back in. He's a proper footballer, with a brain. He did well after his recent dip in form.

Bolton, of course, scored. From a free kick, of course. Given away by Zat knight, of course, though it was perhaps harsh - as much backing in as pushing. The otherwise anonymous Anelka lifted the ball over the wall, and Taylor might have got to it, but didn't.

Bolton also might have had a penalty, as the ball seemed to hit a defenders arm, from about a yard away, so maybe it also struck a Bolton player, or maybe the short distance it travelled counted for us. Or maybe the ref was as unsure as I was, exactly what happened.

Half time and we were saying, "please Martin, just play 4-4-2, give Gabby some help, fill that big gap on the right and we'll be a lot better".

He did, and we were. Paddy Berger came on for Shaun, and played on the left, Luke came on for Ozzy, and Ash moved to the right.

Ah a shape. We were better without being particularly good, but it was at least "right". Barry came more into the game, Berger was looking to link with Luke and the players appeared happier all round.

We equalised when Gabby escaped down their left, cut inside and lashed the ball across, perhaps aiming for Luke, but it was deflected at pace, past Jaskaleinen. Bolton complained because the ref had over-ruled the linesman, and they had gone to sleep.

After that, Bolton kind of reverted to the Allardyce tactic of long throws and set pieces, we just about coped, though they should have scored when Diouf, I think it was, shot over from a yard after GB had cleared badly with his right foot. In the first half Gabby had missed a chance from a rebound off the keeper following a shot from Shaun. It was one of those days. I thought it would end 2-1 to someone, but there were no more goals, no Jam for the tapioca.

So some thoughts and marks from the game.

Well done to all those supporting both sides who turned up. Well judged to those who didn't.

The manager got the team wrong, but at least rectified it at half time.

It was nice to see Stan Petrov back and playing well, Ozzy showed glimpses again of how he's come on, and he was perhaps sacrificed tactically rather than for performing badly. Shaun Maloney is popular with the fans, and rightly so, but it didn't quite happen for him today. That happens. Keep your head up Shaun. Next time, you'll make hay.

There needs to be a bit more hunger, sometimes, to win. It seemed we were happy to get the draw.

Gav McCann got a nice round of applause, and JLloyd got some stick from some. Neither did anything to show that they should still be at Villa. But good luck to them, especially Gav.

Marks

Stu Taylor 6; Might have saved the free kick, distribution OK without being as good as Carson's is.

Olly; 5- Looked uncomfortable, but not helped by the wierd formation first half.

Freddie Bouma; 6 - good defensively.

Martin Laursen; 6 - won everything in the air, caught out a couple of times.

Zat; 5 - Did OK, a couple of moments of concern.

Ozzy; 5 - lost on the right, but some nice touches, and he was finding space well. Needed to help Olly out by getting tighter on Gardner and Diouf.

Stillian Petrov; 7 - MoTM for Villa. Kept us alive, really in the first half, consistent.

GB; 6 - Much better second half than first.

Ashley Young; 6 - delivery not the best today, boundless energy.

Shaun; 5 - one jinky run and powerful shot, some nice play, but a bit peripheral.

Gabby; 7 - played well again, horribly isolated first half.

Subs Paddy Berger 6 and Luke 6 - both had a big impact in terms of settling us down. They linked well and held and used the ball well. Luke could have put in a bit more effort towards the end, I felt, but maybe that's harsh.

Time for Tea.

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Cheers Pete, great report as ever, it would have been easy to overcook that.

It looked on the TV like we started with Barry, Petrov and Osbourne centrally with Maloney down the left and Young down the right. It's interesting that it didn't look that way to those that could see the whole pitch. TV can be a bit misleading from time to time, or perhaps I was just looking for something that made sense.

Let's hope next weeks lamb is a touch tastier, and our desert of knicker-sellers glory goes down sweetly. Otherwise I can feel a touch of mid-table indigestion coming on.

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nice report Pete, but just to say Taylor had no chance wth the free kick, did well just to get an hand on it

as for Osbourne I think we played him because we were worried about the lack of tackling, however it became clear Petrov was doing this and we need to go to a 442

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Nice report, but kind.

This game was awful. Bolton were poor, we were worse. It looked like two championship sides battling it out, it was embarrassing. Embarrassing watching us play the style of football (I've become resigned to expect from MON), and not only that but do it badly.

I'm seriously doubting MON.

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Nice report. Having watched the Liverpool/Arsenal match after ours, the gulf in class was sadly very very apparent. We're a million miles from that skill level yet.

On your marks, I think you're a bit harsh on Laursen and Bouma. Bouma was brilliant today I thought. Nothing came down his side and he did well as a CB too. Laursen had to do Knight's job and I think both of them were our MOTM's.

It did show one thing though. That we badly miss Reo-Coker. Petrov did well and the formation didn't help us, but without a destroyer against Bolton you're going to struggle. Let's not forget we were playing against bottom of the league and we failed to beat them, new manager or not. Also, hopefully O'Neill learned another lesson i.e. that of playing 4-3-3 with Maloney and Ozzy in the middle of the park. Maloney is a good player, but he compromises the team. Young, despite being right-footed, is not the same on the right. Osbourne while trying to learn his tradae at Prem level is not ready or yet capable of playing on the right. He needs games in the centre in the reserves. Maloney, unless played in the hole, should not inconvenience Young in any way. Young is too important for that. I was a little surprised not to see Harewood after his hat-trick in midweek especially since Bolton's physical nature might have suited him. But we escaped with a draw and I think in Bolton's credit, they are too good to be down that far. They'll be OK come season's end. I just hope we play with more belief and shape in the next month. We've some 'easy' games coming up. We need to be getting 3pts from them all.

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as for Osbourne I think we played him because we were worried about the lack of tackling, however it became clear Petrov was doing this and we need to go to a 442

Was Gardner injured or rested? I might be wrong but I thought I heard he was rested. If that was the case it was baffling to rest a 20 year old who doesn't play every game. I agree re- the free kick btw. He did well to get near it.

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nice report Pete, but just to say Taylor had no chance wth the free kick, did well just to get an hand on it

sat right behind it, I pointed to Aston where it would go. He moved straight away and got a strong hand on it, should have touched it over.

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nice report Pete, but just to say Taylor had no chance wth the free kick, did well just to get an hand on it

sat right behind it, I pointed to Aston where it would go. He moved straight away and got a strong hand on it, should have touched it over.

agreed.

i have no faith in Taylor whatsoever. Doesn't command his area at all. weak on crosses it seems (alwaya has been).

could have saved that IMO (having seen it several times)

MON must have fallen out with Tommy big time not to play him.

Tommy was 1st choice all last season ahead of a somehwat dodgy Taylor. What has changed?

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Nice report. Having watched the Liverpool/Arsenal match after ours, the gulf in class was sadly very very apparent. We're a million miles from that skill level yet.

On your marks, I think you're a bit harsh on Laursen and Bouma. Bouma was brilliant today I thought. Nothing came down his side and he did well as a CB too. Laursen had to do Knight's job and I think both of them were our MOTM's.

It did show one thing though. That we badly miss Reo-Coker. Petrov did well and the formation didn't help us, but without a destroyer against Bolton you're going to struggle. Let's not forget we were playing against bottom of the league and we failed to beat them, new manager or not. Also, hopefully O'Neill learned another lesson i.e. that of playing 4-3-3 with Maloney and Ozzy in the middle of the park. Maloney is a good player, but he compromises the team. Young, despite being right-footed, is not the same on the right. Osbourne while trying to learn his tradae at Prem level is not ready or yet capable of playing on the right. He needs games in the centre in the reserves. Maloney, unless played in the hole, should not inconvenience Young in any way. Young is too important for that. I was a little surprised not to see Harewood after his hat-trick in midweek especially since Bolton's physical nature might have suited him. But we escaped with a draw and I think in Bolton's credit, they are too good to be down that far. They'll be OK come season's end. I just hope we play with more belief and shape in the next month. We've some 'easy' games coming up. We need to be getting 3pts from them all.

largely agree Bri with your villa thoughts.

but having thought about the gulf in class thing (whcih i too thought initially) i then came to the conclusion that playing against a direct, physical, long ball outfit like Notlob can make many teams look a bit sh*t & substandard. teams have to deal with that style of game, and it leads to a less technical level of play as a result.

I've seen many good sides look poor against Notlob under Big Sam.

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