3 league defeats on the spin for City means the international break couldn't come soon enough for the tired Canaries. Ffion Thomas was 'lucky' enough to make the trip all the way to the Reebook/Macron/Whatever we call it nowadays....
Random star performer
Well played Bolton, who have followed up their grim run of seven straight without a goal, let alone a point, with a solid five match unbeaten run including two home wins against Sheffield Wednesday and ourselves. Having soaked up the early pressure they took their chances, inspired by Sammy Ameobi’s forging runs, and nullified much of the second half into a non-event. The weekend’s results saw Sunderland replace them at the bottom, which would be quite funny, if we hadn’t already lost to them as well.
Moment of the match
The various chances wasted in the first twenty minutes. Put one of those away and, with respect to Bolton, a result is almost guaranteed – we’ve won all six of the league games in which we’ve scored first. In those games where we’ve fallen behind, it’s only late equalisers against Fulham and Hull that have salvaged anything. This isn’t new information – staff and players have reiterated constantly the importance of scoring the first goal – so it was extremely frustrating to see an eminently winnable fixture such as this slip away as we failed to assert any authority in the early stages.
It was the black coat that was plucked from the wardrobe, and it was certainly needed on a cold afternoon in which, as the rain swept in, Farke cut a frustrated figure. The team he picked and the subs he made seemed as strong as any available, and while the chances created were by no means all clear cut – Murphy’s second half rebound aside – the failure to take them does somewhat inevitably screw up the game plan a bit.
Biggest positive to take
That just like the last time we had to endure an away day as bad as this, we’re straight into the warm embrace of the international break – and that worked out OK before. Getting back on the horse within days of defeat is a nice enough thought, but it hasn’t worked against Derby, Wolves or Bolton, so a break is absolutely what we need – and not least because in two weeks’ time we might well boast the riches of two fit strikers.
The sale of tickets to away fans at the Macron Stadium – which has always been the lower tier first, and then upper tier if required – has been reversed for this season. The not inconsiderable price difference between the two (£28 lower, £32 upper) means that one can only assume that Bolton consider swizzing an extra £4 a head from visiting fans entirely worth the suppression of atmosphere and negative visual impact of a bank of empty seats behind one goal. The incompetent EFL show no sign of matching laudable Premier League away initiatives such as the £30 ticket price cap and the impending requirement to allocate seats adjacent to the pitch, not in the gods.
It’s apt that the architecture of the Macron Stadium has been noted as resembling a spaceship, because this was an atmosphere-free zone in both the home and away sections. A sparse home crowd is presumably attributable to those ticket prices and Bolton’s season prior to their recent uptick in form, but while the away turnout was decent for the distance, it was disappointing that not much got going noise-wise.
This wasn’t great, but it wasn’t Millwall either. Ultimately, the problem here was very obvious – we need to start finishing off chances before the opposition finish theirs. After a hectic, tiring and relentless few weeks, pretty much everyone, fans included, will be feeling grateful to have a fortnight off. I personally intend to spend that time praying that Nelson’s teeth, groin, calf and whatever else suffer no further issues.