Bolton Wanderers suffered their fourth defeat in five away to Portsmouth on Saturday.
The Trotters produced an encouraging first half display and looked to have turned a corner despite a handful of key absentees from the squad. However, Danny Cowley must have inspired his team with an excellent half time team talk because out stepped an unrecognisable group of players who really took the game to Bolton.
It has been a very frustrating run for Ian Evatt who was left feeling pretty despondent after the match with a break from league action on the horizon. Pompey leapfrogged Bolton into 13th place as a result with the Trotters falling away from the play-off places quite spectacularly in recent weeks.
Rochdale and Stockport County in the cup competitions provide two matches to rebuild some confidence amongst the squad before their next league outing at home to Crewe Alexandra on 12th November.
Here, we take a look at three things we clearly learnt about Bolton after Saturday’s defeat on the South Coast…
Second half drop-off
The lack of options from the bench due to the club’s mini injury crisis did not help matters but Pompey came on much stronger in the second period.
Cowley may have stumbled across a strong front four with Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness operating either side of John Marquis and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild just behind.
The Bolton defence could not contain them and in the end could have conceded more in the second period. Joel Dixon should save the goal, there is no debating that, but it had been coming.
Oladapo Afolayan’s left peg
Afolayan appears to be head and shoulders Bolton’s best player week in and week out. We have seen a pattern to some of his goals this season, cutting in from the left and picking out the bottom right corner with ease.
However, at Fratton Park he demonstrated that he is also capable off of his weaker left foot, taking the ball on the half turn and pinging one back off the crossbar in the first half.
Whether Bolton get going again or not, Afolayan will continue to be a nightmare to play against for all third tier defences this season.
Quiz: Do you know what club these 28 ex-Bolton Wanderers players are playing at now?
Hopefully, the time away from the scrutiny of league action can act as an effective reset button for Evatt and his squad.
Crewe at home when they return is a match they will be overwhelming favourites for, the Alex have earned just eight points so far this season and are not likely to contain the Trotters if they can hit their straps.
A top six push is still on this term, if the injured players can recover successfully and Evatt can use this fresh slate to his advantage then the Trotters should be back in and around the play-offs by the turn of the year.