RAMBLE: Bolton 2-1 Wednesday

RAMBLE: Bolton 2-1 Wednesday

After the emotional roller-coaster that was the week before and after the Derby and the 3-0 win over Leeds, the international break came at a good time for my nerves.

A break was welcome and most of the time under Carlos we tend to respond to the break well.

There was every reason to be hopeful for the trip to winless Bolton.

That said, this is Wednesday and there was always a nagging concern that if a team needs a win, Wednesday will be the ones to gift them a gutless performance and three points.

Which is basically what happened at Birmingham. And we’ve never been convincing against the “lesser teams” under Carlos.

In the first season, we lost away at Charlton and MK Dons, whilst last season we’d appeared to conquer that with dull if professional 1-0 wins at places like Blackburn.

Professional they might have been but the inescapable fact is that we never dominate these teams. Having said that, if we can continue the form shown against Leeds, our fixtures are ripe for a run.

 

THE  MORNING

 

I made sure I was up in time to make a bit of breakfast, which is such an essential part of any away day.

I’d also gone out of my way after work on Friday to get hash browns in. Any breakfast is significantly improved with the inclusion of hash browns.

In the end, I had toast, mushrooms (cooked in butter), Linda McCarthy sausages, aforementioned hash browns and a fried egg. In hindsight, I should have included beans.

Breakfast complete

Eaten and ready for the day, I set off to meet James and as I walked down the street I saw his front door open. Perfect timing!

Then I saw he was carrying a white carrier bag. SHIT! I’d left my white carrier bag of beer in the fridge! Thankfully I literally (yes literally) live around the corner and about 1 minute walk from James’ house so I quickly ran back up the hill, into the house and grabbed the bag of beers from my fridge. Phew! And we set off for the station.

As we got there we couldn’t see Kieren so we headed for the platform where we found him waiting for us.

We were a little early and the train before ours was still waiting to leave. It was already busy with a mix of Wednesday, Man City and Liverpool fans. It was clearly going to be a busy train but we had booked seats so we’d be fine.

As the train arrived, the sight of grown men acting like children never ceases to surprise me as various people sprinted towards the doors.

RUN!

As if that helps. We JUST about got on but others didn’t and had to wait for the next train across the Pennines. We could see ours seats but had to fight to get there.

Excuse me. Coming through. Excuse me. And of course, there were people in our seats, which took about five minutes for all of us to squeeze through and sit down.

By this point I was sweating and the combination of a packed train and unseasonably warm weather meant that it was very warm.

Still the beers were cold and felt well-earned after the effort to get to our seats. James and I had various sour type beers which are very popular on the craft ale front these days but Kieren doesn’t have as tart a pallet and had some more traditional tasting beers.

We also started discussing the team and apparently, the only player not available is Westwood.

Wildsmith included

Do we bring in Loovens and/or Hutch or stick with the same team that beat Leeds? For all the talk of Carlos not know his “best 11” (an out of date concept in my opinion) the starting 11 has been consistent since Kieran Lee came back into the team against Forest. There’s little reason to change that.

As the train pulled into Manchester Piccadilly conversation had meandered onto Brexit as the train emptied. We’d planned to get off at Oxford Road as the pubs are better and the train to the ground is from there.

James was just saying that it’s only about 4 minutes from here as we pulled into the station. Suddenly we needed to move fast or we were off to Warrington for the day!

Thankfully, we got out in time and we headed for the pub.

 

MORE BEERS

 

Tower of Sour

Although I have to confess I was already feeling the effects of the sours. It was going to be a long day. The first pub we went into was nice enough but was trying a little bit too hard. A little too hipstery. Decent beer though.

The second pub (all James’ choices and I can’t recall the names) was much better and had a really nice balcony to drink on and enjoy the Manchester Indian Summer.

It also had (in retrospect this was the most exciting moment of the day) the Tower of Sour! It was only two beers but we liked the effort.

They had a berry sour and a coffee sour. We went for them in that order and the coffee sour was very impressive. It basically coffee in beer form.

It smelt like coffee and tasted like a good espresso. Beautiful.

By the time we’d tried those it was time to head for the train to Horwich Parkway. The fact the station doesn’t even have the word “Bolton” in the name says enough about this ground.

Any ground that is basically in a supermarket car park is not right at all. Modern football eh?

This was also another jam-packed train with no seats at all. We were jammed in between two carriages and I was stood on the bit where two carriages join.

Thankfully we arrived at Horwich in one piece and walked into the ground with news that as we expected the team was unchanged. We also had time for a pie and a pint before the game.

Although it was busy and the queue was not moving fast! Suddenly we only JUST enough time to have said pie and pint. The pie was also hotter than the sun, which made it interesting.

Then to our seats, which turned out to be the top row of the upper tier! Oxygen masks required but a very good view! Surprisingly there was no Mark and Tom yet who were travelling separately.

 

THE MATCH

 

We actually started the game fairly well and looked to be getting about them fairly early. It’s the hope that gets you.

Then suddenly a very excited Tom turned up with Mark who’d been held up in traffic. Not long after this we broke into their box and Hunt had a chance to find Hooper.

It looked a certain goal if he did but he failed to beat the first defender and the chance was gone.

They hadn’t looked very threatening but our defence has been very poor under pressure this season.

Then they attacked and we appeared to allow Ameobi all the time in the world who hit the ball cleanly, passed Wildsmith and into the corner of the net. SHIT.

It is so easy to score against us this season. We can’t go on like this.

Then it’s ten men behind the ball and we panic.

Lee battles for the ball

It’s not just that we panic and we have ten men in front of us. Once we HAVE to score, it appears as though all creativity goes from the players.

We look tired, at times bored and predictable.

It felt like the game was done with that first goal.

There were various games last season that we managed to fight back and turn things around. But the moment we conceded it felt like game over and against a team that haven’t won in the league.

We limped to half time with little of note from a Wednesday point of view.

 

HT: Bolton 1-0 Wednesday

 

Thankfully Bolton are selling beer at half time and we needed it. If things carry on like this a change will be needed.

I got back to our row just as the second half started with Hutchinson and Rhodes coming on in a 4-3-3 shape. We did have more energy and purpose. Maybe Rhodes could get a couple and save the day?

There were chances for Bannan and Reach. We can do this. Then they went on a rare attack, which looked to have gone and I looked away.

The next thing I saw was Wildsmith scrambling and they missed a clear chance. Corner.

Come on clear this and forget it ever happened. And of course, the corner comes across and it’s in! FFS. Maybe we could win 3-2?

Chances started to fall for both sides

Then it was getting worse and somehow Madine managed to miss from four yards. The home crowd was teasing the Wednesday fans …

HOW SHIT MUST YOU BE, WE’RE WINNING AT HOME …

Sadly, we were poor both on and off the pitch.

As soon as they scored as a group we were quiet and some fans seem to have forgotten how to support the team. I’ve been going to away days fairly consistently for about ten years.

We’ve all seen some awful performances and awful teams. But generally, the fans have always had their back. Ever since the playoff final this has changed.

Expectations have meant that some fans have become arrogant and hubristic.

They think they have a right to see us win matches and if that doesn’t happen, they have a right to withdraw support.

This isn’t healthy and it’s counterproductive. Some fans need to look at themselves, as well as staff and players.

Questions to be asked of a group who turn in continued inconsistency

We were now in search of a miracle comeback and when their defenders decided to become a goalkeeper, it felt like we were never going to score but Lee managed to stab the ball home.

It was a very muted celebration. The most muted that I can remember but it was a start. Also, surely a red card for the handball? Apparently not and apparently, it’s only a red card if it wasn’t a goal. The law is an ass.

Joao was brought on and again looked lively and threatening but time was running out. And there were chances at both ends. Madine was doing everything but score.

The ball flashed in front of Rhodes and all he had to do was connect and it was 2-2. He connected and the ball flew into the Wednesday fans in the lower tier.

It was becoming apparent that a draw was the best possible result. A draw would not be in anyway acceptable. We needed a win.

If we could just get the equaliser maybe, we can chase a stoppage time winner. It just takes a moment and strange things can happen in football. Then Lee was charging through the box and taken out cleanly.

It wasn’t even a case of an appeal for a penalty. It was a case of waiting for the referee to point at the spot and hopefully we score.

But incredibly this referee decided that Lee dived and booked him for diving. A crazy decision.

We are so obsessed with diving that we’re punishing players for BEING fouled. This is crazy.

Into stoppage time, Rhodes was fouled by their player. Again, it was a clear foul from which we could attack. But this referee has decided that BEING fouled is a foul in itself and gave a free kick to Bolton.

Rhodes had to be taken off and we finished the game with ten men and lost.

 

FT: Bolton 2-1 Wednesday

 

So first things first: we deserved to lose and Bolton deserved to win.

We have nobody to blame for the defeat but ourselves and I think this is the end for Carlos.

But, this was not a fair game of football.

They won the game with clear help from the referee. We could have got back into the game but the referee helped them to the win and did whatever he could to stop us from getting back into the game.

With recent decisions at Burton, Birmingham and the Lee offside goal against Leeds, it is clear that referees are a clear problem this season and the club need to make an official complaint to the football league.

We have not been playing fair games of late.

Alas it’s also the end for Carlos.

With regret, I’ve come to the conclusion that Carlos can have us play with an attacking style OR in a defensive style.

The failure to strengthen the defence and to resolve our problems at the back this season is unforgivable. Up until now the biggest defence for Carlos has been a lack of alternatives but there comes a time when something is better than nothing.

The Championship is wide open this season but we’re blowing it.

Finally, the fans behaviour is making away days unpleasant and if things continue on and off the pitch, I’ll be skipping a lot of away days in the new year.

Having said all that and despite losing and what happened in the stadium AND managing to smash the screen on my iPhone, I still had a great day out. Onto Derby next week…

JP
Owls Alive
E-MAIL: owlsalive@gmail.com
Twitter: @OwlsAlive and @jpowls

Images: SWFC, unless stated


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