WANDERERS' footballing revolution hasn’t exactly roared into life so far this season but further signs that it is gathering momentum were evident on Saturday against Cambridge United.

Since Ian Evatt’s arrival it’s been quite clear the footballing philosophy he is trying to implement. A pass-heavy style that looks to drag the opposition apart to create holes in their defence.

The emphasis on passing has been evident – so far this season Bolton have out-passed teams considerably, averaging 438 passes per game, whilst their eight opponents have averaged just 332 in comparison. However, far too many of those have been tentative passes between uncertain teammates. What has been lacking is penetrative forward balls to get play moving quickly further up the pitch.

What we saw against Cambridge on Saturday, though, was a team willing to play those forward passes with more swiftness, as well as getting white shirts (or red and blue as was the case on Saturday) further up the pitch to receive them.

One indicator of Wanderers’ new sense of purpose was the reduction in timid passes between statuesque defenders. Prior to Saturday’s game Bolton central defenders were averaging 162 passes per game. Against Cambridge this dropped to 118 as the Whites looked to get the ball forward to their midfield creators with more urgency.

The most telling statistic I calculated though when checking WhoScored after the game, was forward passes as a percentage of total passes attempted. Prior to Saturday this was just 66.3 per cent. However against Cambridge this shot up to 74.3 per cent, with the midfield of Antoni Sarcevic, Andy Tutte and Ali Crawford linking up well with each other and teammates further forward. Possible indicators that the bunch of strangers thrown together this summer are maybe starting to ‘get it’.

The Bolton News:

The increase in forward passing resulted in multiple forays into the final third.

In the first half, Ian Evatt’s men carved out a good chance for Peter Kioso, with the ball going from Billy Crellin to a galivanting Kioso in the penalty box in just six passes.

It was still playing out from the back, which is something Evatt is obviously keen on, but instead of playing a timid ball to one of his defensive partners, when Ryan Delaney received the ball from Crellin he strode forward and picked out Nathan Delfouneso who kickstarted the attacking move with the help of a Crawford long ball to Kioso on the wing (see below).

The Bolton News:

Brockbank’s disallowed goal (see below) was a similarly direct and possibly even slicker passing move, with just four passes from Delaney in the Bolton half to Brockbank in the Cambridge six yard box. It really was refreshing to watch Bolton players making purposeful forward runs in support of their teammates.

The Bolton News:

That’s not to say that Evatt should abandon his patient build up philosophy. Sarcevic’s equaliser came as a result of a probing 14 pass move that saw the ball go from the far right of the pitch to the far left and back again.

This isn’t unlike passing moves fans have seen in previous games, the key difference this time was Crawford taking one touch to set himself and then immediately playing a cutting ball that bypasses two Cambridge players forward to Sarcevic on the edge of the opposition's penalty area.

The Bolton News:

Having watched and re-watched every minute of Bolton’s season so far I can confidently say this is the best team performance I’ve witnessed so far.

Whilst not perfect (we still need to create more clear-cut chances if we are to really dominant teams this season) the signs of training ground work on pressing, passing patterns and supporting runs are finally starting to shine through.

* All statistics courtesy of whoscored.com

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