STRAIGHT FROM THE STANDS: Oxford blown away and consistency

Bolton needed to rebound, something to shout about after last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Exeter City. A late Eoin Toal goal salvaged a point after a disastrous start to the second half, but if the late comeback against Barnsley felt like a win, this felt more of the opposite.

Tuesday came, the Sky cameras were in town but surprisingly Kevin Davies was not in the studio – which is normally a formality whenever Bolton are on TV.

There was pressure, but that is always the case at this point in the season, more so as Wanderers are in the midst of a promotion push, with recent form seeing any advantage over the playoff teams vanish.

Injuries have also continued to rear their ugly head, the latest victim being Victor Adeboyejo who is expected to miss the remainder of the season. He joins Dion Charles, Dan Nlundulu and Carlos Mendes Gomes on the sidelines, with that namely just being the attackers who are out of action.

So, with Oxford United vying for a playoff place, it was expected to be a tough encounter, surely a harder task than Exeter a few days prior, right?

The thing is with football, it does not always work out like that. Sometimes, you can dominate a team and get beat by a solitary goal, sometimes you get deservedly beaten, and yet there are games in which you just dominate a team from start to finish.

On Tuesday it was very much a performance you can put in the ‘dominated’ category. Led by the partnership of Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Aaron Collins – the former has been getting some stick recently, while the latter is finding his groove.

Both players were outstanding, but the truth is that after a 5-0 goal fest like that, you cannot pick out any one person as a standout performer.

For all of the good that Ian Evatt’s Bolton team do, and there is a lot of good, one concern you can have outside of a ‘plan B’ (we are past that argument now) is that Wanderers do not put together a complete 90 minute performance on a regular basis.

Sure, you can have a dominant first half like the Exeter game, before committing two basic errors to concede. You can dominate a Wigan team but go behind with their first real chance and never recover. You can start a game strong like Blackpool away, before losing the plot completely.

One thing you can say however is that when ‘Evatt Ball’ works, it does not half come off as an enjoyable time. Tuesday was proof positive of that, with the fourth goal serving as a reminder as to what the hours and hours of work on the training ground accomplish.

The run from Bodvarsson, the back heel from Collins, the pass from Maghoma to feed in Ogbeta, before the final delivery for Collins to smash home.

When Bolton are on, they are on. There are no other teams in this league who can match that style of play, the issue is that Bolton are not consistent enough in terms of putting together complete 90-minute games.

With that being said, there is just the matter of a tiny game against Derby. Forget about Evatt Ball, I would take a scrappy 1-0 win with a deflected corner coming off the back of Toaldini’s head.

Collins goal has whet my appetite

By Tony Thompson

The Bolton News: Aaron Collins scores Wanderers' fourth goal

I have watched that Aaron Collins goal back so many times now, I’m now finishing Nathanael Ogbeta’s cross off in my sleep, much to Mrs Thompson’s chagrin. What a work of art.

There isn’t a little bit of that goal I don’t like, from big Jon Dadi Bodvarsson winning the ball back and driving forward, to Collins’ backheel, Paris Maghoma’s Carlos Alberto-like roll out to Ogbeta, his cross, then the finish. Oh yes.

Is it better than Frank Worthington’s famous goal against Ipswich? Of course it wasn’t.

Is it better than Johan Elmander’s goal against Wolves? Sadly not.

Is it better than Mark Winstanley’s goal against Wrexham? Take it from me, no it wasn’t. I just wish I could find it on YouTube to prove to everyone how good it actually was.

A few people have put it on par with Mark Davies’s one against Ian Evatt at Blackpool, and I am more happy with that comparison, even though that one saved a point and Bolton were effectively playing Harlem Globetrotters stuff by that stage of the second half on Tuesday night.

Oh, for a performance like that on Saturday at Derby. Nobody is holding their breath, of course, because this being Bolton the universe if bound to level out such measures of joy with some kind of antidote.

I do think however that people are wrapping up a bit too much importance on one weekend of results when there are seven or eight games left to play for most clubs after this.

I haven’t mapped out how I feel the run-in might go, that might be next week’s column, but once Derby are negotiated I don’t worry as much about playing Stevenage or Pompey at home. I am always confident whenever we can bring teams to our yard.

Don’t mistake this for over confidence. Nobody can ever level that accusation at me as a long-suffering Bolton Wanderers fan!

There was something in the way they took Oxford to the cleaners the other night which made me think they were building back towards something. A feeling that I haven’t really had since the first few months of the season.

It was a bit like when they give you a sorbet of a slice of melon in between courses in a posh meal. A palate cleanser before the massive main course to come.

I just hope Ian Evatt and his players haven’t filled themselves up too much on goals before they get to Pride Park.

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