DEPENDING on how full your glass was at full time, Saturday’s result against Grimsby Town was either a first clean sheet of the season and the continuation of an unbeaten October, or a dismal result reflected in the shots on target column.

Ian Evatt admitted his disappointment and said his players had not shown enough intent to beat a side that had been lockdown until two days before kick-off.

Here we look at the major talking points over 90 minutes.


This was the first time since Ian Evatt took charge that his side had failed to put a shot on target.

Bolton have had form for this in the last few seasons, and last did it in a goalless draw with AFC Wimbledon in March but the frustration at having done so against a Grimsby side that appeared so vulnerable was hard to disguise.

The Whites did put eight shots in on goal, the closest being a free-kick from Ali Crawford which whistled just past the post.

Evatt has always pledged to play attacking football – and though the intent to score was clearly there in the first half, the lack of direction after the interval will have been a concern to the head coach.


Jak Hickman’s performance on the day seems to have split opinion among supporters, and even Evatt complained that the service from his wing-backs had not been good enough.

The young defender was employed in a more advanced role on the right, replacing the injured Gethin Jones, and put in 12 crosses against Grimsby. Only three reached Bolton players.

He was the out-ball for the whole first half and did well on a few occasions to beat his man and make room for the cross. Yet the numbers do not make great reading.

Was that down to the Mariners packing their own penalty box? Did Wanderers’ strikers do enough to get on the end of them? All up for debate.

One thing for certain is that the productivity did not improve later in the game when Hickman was substituted and Harry Brockbank was pushed on in a similar role.

Brockbank, who in all fairness started the day as the right-sided centre-half, put in four crosses on the day and did not find a Bolton player with one.


The big defender’s upturn in form continued as the central component of a back three.

Brockbank took slightly more possession, and was more direct, while Ryan Delaney put in another solid show to his left, albeit against a fairly limited attack.

Santos was happy to drop off a yard and act as a sweeper. He started off a couple of attacks from deep midfield and was strong on the occasions Grimsby did get through to him one-on-one.

On an afternoon where few positives were accentuated, he was one of them.

The Bolton News: Doyle's heatmapDoyle's heatmap

The Bolton News: Delfouneso's heatmapDelfouneso's heatmap


The lack of cutting edge for Wanderers can perhaps be explained by the positioning of their two main strikers, Nathan Delfouneso and Eoin Doyle on the day.

Neither player – and especially Delfouneso – is a simple penalty box predator, so you would expect both to do their fair share of running into the channels. But the lack of touches each had in the penalty box shows that the supply line just wasn’t functioning like it should be.

Doyle had five, including two shots, but was unusually hesitant at times. Delfouneso, coming up against his former Blackpool boss Ian Holloway, looked had just three. His only shot was from 20 yards out.


The biggest topic of debate after the game was Evatt’s use of substitutes.

With Arthur Gnahoua and Ronan Darcy on the bench there was an option to put on ‘more attacking’ players. But the Bolton boss opted to have faith in the shape his team had started in, bringing Alex Baptiste, Liam Gordon and Brandon Comley on for the tiring Andy Tutte and wing-backs Hickman and Jamie Mascoll.

Brockbank struggled after being pushed further forward and Wanderers failed to take advantage of Gordon’s pace against Harry Clifton – which was almost certainly the plan.

Grimsby had switched to a five-man midfield after the break to close down space and limit the supply line to the wing-backs. Wanderers failed to adapt and the number of forward passes suddenly started to dry up.

In the first half, Bolton managed 189 (67 per cent) forward passes compared to 93 going back the other way.

In the second half they enjoyed more possession and had 204 passes, only 57 per cent of which were forward.