Bolton Wanderers: Ian Evatt has to consider unpopular selection after Plymouth evidence


  • Maybe Dempsey over Maghoma in play-off final? His past Wembley performance key.
  • Dempsey’s runs crucial in finding success, even with Maghoma’s match-winning ability.
  • Tough call for Evatt: Dempsey’s impact or Maghoma’s skill for play-off final?

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This season, Paris Maghoma won Bolton Wanderers’ Young Player of the Year award after proving instrumental to Bolton’s third-place finish and automatic promotion challenge.

There is clamour from all of their supporters, and rightly so, to try and get Maghoma back either on loan or on a permanent basis next season, such has been the impact that the 23-year-old has made at the Toughsheet Community Stadium.

However, as controversial a take as it is, there is an argument that Wanderers would be best served by beginning Saturday afternoon’s play-off final against Oxford United with Maghoma on the substitutes bench in order for Kyle Dempsey to play from the start.

Many will immediately disagree and laugh this suggestion off and, perhaps, rightly so, but, as mentioned there is an argument for it.

Recreating success

Last season, Wanderers tore through the eventual League One winners Plymouth Argyle with a 4-0 victory at Wembley Stadium and they will try, both on and off the pitch, to recreate what made that day and win so special.

One key element in their success that day was the excellent performance of Dempsey and the intelligence, both on and off the ball, to drive through the heart of the Pilgrims defence.

He opened the scoring early on with a header from a corner before the first of several first-half bursts through the middle allowed him to set up Dion Charles for Bolton’s second inside 10 minutes.

Dempsey had a couple more opportunities before halftime in which he really could have put Bolton out of sight before they eventually were mid-way through the second half.

On the final day of the season, suffering from illness, Maghoma was not in the Bolton match day squad and Dempsey took his place up against Peterborough United with Wanderers needing to race out of the traps once again and, once again, they were 2-0 up inside ten minutes with Dempsey scoring a headed opener/

Even when Maghoma returned to the XI in the first-leg of their play-off semi-final against Barnsley, Dempsey came off the bench and his late, well-timed run beyond the Tykes’ defence was followed by a fairly tame finish, which resulted in a corner that Bolton scored directly from via Randell Williams.

Even though his finish left a lot to be desired, it will be the build-up and the run that he made, and does make so often for Bolton, that will perhaps leave Ian Evatt in two minds this weekend.

Tactical flexibility

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The reason for Dempsey to be given the nod ahead of Maghoma would not be because of the latter’s performances because, even in that aforementioned Barnsley game, the Brentford loanee was exceptional.

It was his assist for Charles’ opener that set Bolton on their way to Wembley and his excellence, both on and off the ball, marked him out as one of the key men for either side.

His off the ball work has majorly improved as the season has gone on but Dempsey’s runs in behind remain arguably the most effective of any Wanderers midfielder.

Maghoma’s skill, precision, and ability to create, as well as his tenacity in the tackle, matches and surpasses the ability of Dempsey but in a one-off game where a solitary goal could be so vital, having someone able to run in beyond Charles and Aaron Collins could be decisive.

The likelihood and perhaps the correct call for Evatt to make is for Maghoma to deservedly get the nod in the League One play-off final but Dempsey’s past heroics on that same Wembley pitch and the impact he could have against Oxford will be something playing on the manager’s mind.

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