We're seeing something special from Sheehan

by Liam Hatton

Josh Sheehan collected a short pass from Josh Dacres-Cogley before nudging the ball forward, first with his left and then his right foot, almost as nonchalantly as you would tap a stone down the road with the tip of your foot.

Sheehan took one final glance up and honed in on his target, dinking an inch perfect lobbed pass into the path of Carlos Mendes Gomes who volleyed home.

Bolton Wanderers were level at Cambridge United on Tuesday night until Josh Sheehan did Josh Sheehan things. The game had just passed the hour mark, with a special moment required.

The pass for Bolton’s crucial second goal in their promotion bid is something words cannot do justice. Sheehan took one man out of the game by lofting the ball over his head, before splitting the two Cambridge centre backs as if they were not even in the game.

Mendes Gomes had to time his run to perfection in order to avoid being called offside but the pass leading up to that moment is something not many players, especially at League One level, can pull off.

I feel like I have been pretty vocal all year with the notion that Sheehan has been Bolton’s Player of the Season so far and if that is slightly controversial (spoiler alert, it is not), then he is well within the discussion.

There was perhaps a feeling in the summer that he would not sign a new contract, that maybe he would try his luck elsewhere after injury setbacks saw him in and out of the starting lineup. It would have been fair and no ill will would have been afforded to the Welsh international, but instead Ian Evatt saw enough to want to keep him around and Sheehan felt he had unfinished business.

We are at the point in which Sheehan is one of the first names on the team sheet and has been virtually ever present throughout this campaign. His passing range is off the charts, with his ability to control the pace of any game a huge positive.

He is joint third with nine assists in League One this year and bearing in mind that comes from him operating a deep lying central midfield role speaks volumes.

So to summarise, yes he is pretty good at football and if you were to draw up a player who is suited to Evatt’s Bolton Wanderers - a team which controls the ball, slows the game down when needed and to ultimately dictate possession - Sheehan is the prototypical ‘Evatt player’.

Truth be told, Tuesday proved to be a big win as one of Bolton’s games in hand. If we are giving Sheehan his flowers after another great performance, it would be difficult to not praise Mendes Gomes.

He came in with high expectations from Luton but has not featured nearly as much as he would like, whether that is because of injuries or being on international duty. Tuesday night showed that there is an impact to be made by Mendes Gomes, it is just figuring out which position he can shine in.

The competition for places, even with injuries to key players, shows how equipped this team are. But for now, we are on to Blackpool.

Rollercoasters and Sandcastles

By Tony Thompson

The Bolton News:

I've never been one for rollercoasters, ever since going on the Grand National to impress my girlfriend (now long-suffering wife) at the Pleasure Beach in about 1983.

You might say a life following Bolton Wanderers is not much different. You tend to pack yourself into a tight seat, endure a stomach-churning experience of highs and lows and then find out that someone took a picture of you gurning at a missed chance with a mouthful of Carrs Pastie. Or was that just me?

It has been a gradual climb with Ian Evatt and just when you think you are coming to the crest of the track, he manages to squeeze out another few yards of ascent. I can see the top of the track now and I’m getting those nervous feelings in my stomach.

There are 14 games left as I write this. That is virtually a full third of the season but, somehow, we are packing it all in before the end of April and the daffodils in my garden have already popped up.

I’m fully preparing myself for a dip at Blackpool and Wigan, totally expecting the rollercoaster to plummet downwards for a short spell and send the contents of my breakfast back into the back of my throat.

It is natural realism, I was born and raised in Bolton, and we are pretty good at handling tough times. But even if the next couple of games don’t go so well, I am also confident that if the worst should happen this week, this team can get back on that upward track again and reach the top. We shouldn’t all be in such a rush to think the ride has finished every time someone loses their candy floss.

Blackpool have had a strange old season and you wonder what their fans must think sitting eighth in the table after coming down from the Championship.

For most of my life this has been their natural level but my dad would tell stories of the team in his boyhood who used to be bigger local rivals to Bolton than they are now.

They had their glory spell under Ian Holloway, as Evatt will recall, but that team didn’t look built to last, a decent and entertaining team slipping away into the sea.

It feels like it is Bolton’s turn. And it feels like they are building on stronger foundations.

There is a Sandcastle analogy in there somewhere but I’m still tired from all the rollercoaster puns at the top of the article.