Bolton Wanderers suffered another major setback in League One on Saturday with them falling to a 1-0 defeat away from home against Wycombe Wanderers.
Ian Evatt’s side went into the game aiming to show the right reaction after they produced arguably their worst performance of the season in midweek to fall to a defeat against non-league Stockport County in their first round FA Cup replay. That result had put pressure on Bolton to turn their form around after a difficult period in League One as well over the last few weeks.
The Trotters had managed to end a five-game winless run in League One in their previous match against Crewe Alexandra, but they failed to build on that victory against Wycombe on Saturday. In the end, they were undone by Sam Vokes’ second-half header and they could not get themselves back into the contest after they went 1-0 behind.
So, with Bolton having suffered another frustrating defeat at Wycombe, we take a look at THREE things we clearly learnt about the Trotters…
Ian Evatt a manager under real pressure
There was a lot of controversy caused by Evatt when he decided to label his Bolton side as the best team in League One earlier in the campaign. Since he made those comments the Trotters have fallen away in terms of their form and it seems to be something that has very much backfired on them.
The defeat against Stockport in midweek alongside the manner of Bolton’s performance was always going to create a lot of pressure on Evatt. That coupled with the Trotters’ poor recent form in the league that has seen them lose ground on the teams above them in the table means that the pressure is now very much on the former Barrow boss to turn things around.
Following the defeat at Wycombe, Evatt was keen to stress that Bolton fans should keep in mind that they were sat 20th place in League Two at the start of 2021 and now they are 13th in the third tier. Those comments offer insight into the pressure that is on the former Barrow boss at the moment. Whilst he is right in what he has said the supporters are also right to be asking questions right now.
Evatt has not been helped by key injury issues to important players during this run of form, but he will know that results have not been good enough of late and he has to turn that around. He managed to do that in the second half of last term, so there is hope that he can do so this season.
Joel Dixon shows his quality despite defeat
Last time out in League One in the win against Crewe, Joel Dixon managed to record just his third clean sheet of the campaign in League One. The hope would have been that he could have added to that tally against Wycombe on Saturday, but there was nothing he could do to keep out a looping header from Vokes as the hosts took all three points.
However, this was a game that Dixon does deserve credit from for his performance. The keeper managed to pull off a good save to stop Wycombe taking the lead from the penalty spot in the first half. That came with him denying Anis Mehmeti’s from the spot to ensure that the Trotters remained on level terms.
The keeper also managed to be dependable between the sticks throughout the rest of the contest and he pulled off a further five saves on top of the penalty and also made four punches from crosses. It was a performance that certainly showed the potential that Dixon has to develop into a quality all-around goalkeeper over the coming years.
Bolton will miss Josh Sheehan’s presence
Against Wycombe, Bolton were for the first time without the influential presence of Josh Sheehan in the middle of the park after he suffered an ACL injury during the Trotters’ FA Cup exit to Stockport County in midweek. His presence was certainly missed in that midfield area as Evatt’s side attempted to take a grip of the game in the middle of the park.
MJ Williams had been doing a good job in the midfield, but then he was also forced off through injury as well at Wycombe. It became very challenging for Bolton to keep control of the match once they had lost him from the side as well. That is the period in which Wycombe were able to edge themselves ahead and secure all three points.
It seems that Bolton are going to have to look at their options in the January transfer window to try and replace Sheehan. At the moment, it is going to be a major task for Evatt to find a way of replacing the midfielder’s quality and finding an option that can bring to the side what he had been doing prior to his injury.