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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » THE BIG-MATCH VERDICT: Bolton 1-2 Oldham

THE BIG-MATCH VERDICT: Bolton 1-2 Oldham

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
If the crowd noise had been a reflection on the performance then cheers would have turned into jeers long before Oldham substitute Zak Dearnley turned in a stoppage-time winner.

Prepared to explore every avenue in the quest for that elusive first home win of the new season, the buzz of a buoyant crowd was piped through the PA system from kick-off, a joint decision between the players and staff.

But again Wanderers hit a dead end.

Like canned laughter it was a painful listen, not helped by events on the pitch proving a painful watch.

To say the Whites were slow out of the blocks would be a gross understatement.

The backline was largely beleaguered, the midfield mediocre, while the forwards - barring Nathan Delfouneso’s instinctive equaliser - were too feeble.

And together it sparked a brutal post-match verdict from Evatt.

“Disgusted.” “Gutless.”

The Bolton boss did not hold back, after unwittingly walking in on Harry Kewell’s post-match briefing, where the Oldham head coach spoke of his relief and praised his players in earning their first win of the League Two season to climb off the bottom, leapfrogging Wanderers in the process.

It rubbed salt in raw wounds and the Bolton boss calmly walked out to conduct his interview in a corridor, where his emotions spilled out.

Had he arrived slightly earlier, he would have heard Kewell praising Wanderers, describing them as a “proper footballing team”. But Evatt’s adjectives were not complimentary. Far from it.

The only positive he took was how quickly they equalised.

Defender Ryan Delaney was singled out for praise, while the fleeting moments of quality from newest signing Peter Kioso were acknowledged. But the rest brought consternation.

“Some of them aren’t good enough, it’s as simple as that,” said the Bolton boss.

A bold statement so early in the season, and one that is all the more alarming considering all except two of Saturday’s squad have been signed by the head coach and head of football operations Tobias Phoenix since he arrived from Barrow to much fanfare in July.

A settled XI might bring improvement, but Evatt is stuck between a rock and hard place on that front.

Persistence with formation and personnel might pay off, but too few on Saturday gave enough to warrant keeping the shirt for the midweek trip to Barrow.

Like the previous weekend against a Grimsby Town side who had been out of action for three weeks, Bolton were the derby favourites against rock-bottom Oldham.

But the Latics defied their lowly position by quickly getting the home side on the back foot, and keeping them there for a spell.

So it was no shock when Ben Garrity fired Oldham in front just before the half-hour, turning in Danny Rowe’s cross at the far post after possession was surrendered meekly in the Bolton half.

The only surprise was that Kewell’s men hadn’t scored more but, having hit five in his last three games, the effervescent Conor McAleny kept misfiring.

The striker’s profligacy gave Wanderers a lifeline that Nathan Delfouneso took, prodding home from close range after Kioso darted inside from the right and picked him out.

Buoyed by the equaliser just four minutes after trailing, there was a spring in Bolton’s step, and the second half started with more promise. They looked livelier, passes were crisper and to the right people.

But the more time passed without anything to show for it they soon slipped back into their first half bad habits.

McAleny menaced, but was denied by the woodwork.

Just when Bolton thought they had got away with it; just when they thought they had done enough to earn a second home draw in succession and take their mini unbeaten run to three games, in the last of five minutes of stoppage time they switched off. Big time.

A free kick midway inside the Oldham half should have helped Wanderers see the game out. But a headed clearance sparked a quick counter, four against two.

Substitute Dearnley sprinted with the ball and slotted home to seal it late for Latics.

Tuesday night’s game was already a big one for Evatt, going back to his former club. It takes on even greater significance now.

He insists he is up for the fight. He just needs his players to mirror that desire and determination.

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