WHILE the Wanderers machine is running so smoothly, it almost seems unfair to pick out individual components for criticism.

Ian Evatt’s side has won five games on the spin, moved on to the shoulder of the play-off picture, and is now finally showing signs of settling into the expansive brand of football he promised on arrival this summer.

At the same time, however, Evatt is a self-confessed perfectionist. And though Saturday’s scoreline against Southend was as comprehensive as you may wish to hope, there were clearly areas on which he will hope to improve.

Wanderers have shown great improvement, reflected in results, but Evatt will want to continue to fine tune in the coming weeks before potentially adding extra quality in the January transfer window.

Here are a few areas we think he might look to address.


It is hard to be too critical of Ali Crawford, given the fact his numbers stack up against most players of his type in the division.

Just eight players have managed to register four assists this season in League Two – Crawford joining the likes of David Worrall, who will be at the UniBol this weekend with Port Vale, Colchester’s Callum Harriott, Oldham’s Dylan Bahamboula and Cambridge United’s Wes Hoolahan.

The midfielder’s 518 passes so far this season can be broken up into 351 successful short balls (71 inaccurate) and 57 accurate long balls (39 inaccurate), although it must be noted that these figures include free-kicks and corners.

And the link between Crawford and Bolton captain, Antoni Sarcevic, has yielded two goals so far – one of the most profitable partnerships in the division.

But equally, his last couple of outings after getting on the scoresheet for the first time at Stevenage, have been slightly off-colour.

Key passes have not landed, shots have gone awry. It is a minor gripe – but the likes of Lloyd Isgrove and Ronan Darcy are definitely knocking loudly on the door.


Wanderers had the points in the bag at 2-0 with 25 minutes left to go and killed off any suggestion that Southend could get back into it with Eoin Doyle’s second goal of the day five minutes from time.

To the visitors’ credit, they made life tough in the second half, meaning Bolton were never really able to drop their tempo. Unquestionably the next step in their evolution is to eliminate those doubts earlier and spend a greater portion of the game in complete control.

With the season being so condensed, seeing out those final minutes with minimal fuss may well aid Evatt as he tries to stave off injuries over the winter months.


Wanderers have successfully adapted their style according to opponent, of late. For example, they played considerably more in their own defensive third against Scunthorpe United before hitting the front men than they did against Salford or Stevenage.

But on Saturday they did appear to lapse into some bad habits on the ball, lacking in forward momentum for much of the first half.

Stats supplied by WhoScored.com show forward balls played against Southend dropped to 67.3 per cent of the team’s total, compared with 73.9 for Scunthorpe, 76.7 for Stevenage, or 79.8 for Salford.

That can be partially explained by Southend’s deep-lying approach and it may be argued that they had to coax the visitors out of their stubborn shape before advancing on goal.

It will be food for thought for Evatt, though, as if Bolton’s improvement continues, potentially better sides than Southend could make it harder for them to play at home.


Wanderers’ discipline has been fairly good this season but they have four games remaining before the suspension cut-off point for yellow cards, and can ill-afford any silly cautions.

Antoni Sarcevic picked up his fourth yellow of the season for a comment towards the referee in the first half, which leaves him treading the proverbial tightrope until Boxing Day at Carlisle United.

Brandon Comley, who could come into play this weekend against Port Vale, is another who is one booking away from a one-game suspension.