The Sky Blues were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the University of Bolton Stadium by a Wanderers side with hardly any senior players within their ranks. City had the ball in the net 3 times but all 3 were chalked off by the linesman’s flag. Despite dominating proceedings the vastly inexperienced Bolton side held firm to gain a credible draw.
Bolton Line Up: Matthew ALEXANDER, Harry BROCKBANK, Yoan ZOUMA, Liam EDWARDS, Joe WHITE, Callum KING-HARMES (Hurford-Lockett 67), James WEIR, Sonny GRAHAM, Dennis POLTIC, Ronan DARCY, Eddie BROWN
Bolton Subs: Luke HUTCHINSON, Adam SENIOR, D’Neal RICHARDS, Regan RILEY, Finlay HURFORD-LOCKETT, De’Marlio BROWN-STERLING
Sky Blues Line Up: Marko MAROSI, Fankaty DABO, Michael ROSE, Kyle MCFADZEAN, Brandon MASON, Liam KELLY, Zain WESTBROOKE (Bapaga 87), Jordan SHIPLEY, Wesley JOBELLO, Amadou BAKAYOKO (Godden 60), Jordy HIWULA (Biamou 60)
Sky Blues Subs: Ben WILSON, Dominic HYAM, Sam MCCALLUM, Josh ECCLES, Will BAPAGA, Matt GODDEN, Max BIAMOU
After tickets only went on sale on Friday morning just under 2000 Sky Blues fans made the trip up to Bolton for the game. As the rain poured down the Sky Blues were unsurprisingly in the ascendancy against a Bolton side with an average age of 19. Jordan Shipley had the first opportunity of the game as his shot from outside the area sailed wide. Brandon Mason and Amadou Bakayoko also had chances that went the wrong side of the post. It was just before the half hour mark when the Sky Blues thought they’d took the lead, Jordan Shipley squaring the ball to Wesley Jobello in the box who was denied a first goal in English football after the linesman had judged him to be offside. Just minutes later Bolton forced Marko Marosi into a good save after a corner fell to Dennis Poltic who’s shot was heading right into the bottom corner before Marosi pushed it away. Towards the end of the second half McFadzean headed over from a corner and Kelly had a shot inside the box saved by Alexander in the Bolton goal.
Just after the restart the Sky Blues had their second goal of the afternoon chalked off after Jordy Hiwula’s wayward shot fell into the path of Amadou Bakayoko who couldn’t really miss. However, again the linesman judged him to be offside. The City onslaught continued throughout the second half and the young Wanderers began to tire and gaps were opening. Matt Godden was introduced for his Sky Blues debut as Mark Robins chased a breakthrough. Biamou and Shipley both had free kicks go close towards the end, and the debutante Godden couldn’t steer in a flick on from Wesley Jobello. It almost turned into embarrassment for the Sky Blues as Eddie Brown was inches away from slotting home Callum King-Harmes’ ball in Wanderers only clear cut chance of the second half. City’s afternoon was summed up with almost the last act of the game. Max Biamou was denied a fairytale return from a long injury lay off as he poked home a cross from Liam Kelly. But the flag was raised yet again. There were jubilant scenes in the home end as the final whistle blew. The young Bolton side were exhausted and relieved come the final whistle as they had something to show for their fantastic efforts.
I think it’s been documented enough that Bolton had an extremely young and inexperienced side out on Saturday. But I think people are actually underestimating how much of an achievement this was for them, I predicted in my preview that it wouldn’t be a walk in the park for City and I was proved right. These Bolton players were playing for their places when the turmoil at the club is eventually sorted out, they never stopped running all afternoon. Matthew Alexander in-between the sticks pulled off some good saves and Yoan Zouma looked like a rock at the back. Dennis Poltic looks like a very good young technical player as well. When you take into account that City had 3 goals chalked off, two of them quite contentious decisions you could argue that Bolton were lucky, however when you take into account what that football club and it’s fans have been through as of late they are probably due a little bit of luck. Bolton will probably end up getting relegated this season but they have some very good young players who will play with their heart on their sleeves and when the eventual rebuild begins when the takeover has gone through they would be foolish not to turn to some of these young lads. Mixed with a few experienced heads they could be a force to be reckoned with.
Coventry City Ratings
1. Marko Marosi – 7.5
Marosi didn’t really have a lot to do over the course of the game however he did pull off a very good save midway through the first half from Dennis Poltic’s effort from outside the area. Like last week his distribution looked excellent as well as his claiming from corners and crosses. It looks like we have a very good keeper on our hands in Marosi.
23. Fankaty Dabo – 5.5
A difficult afternoon for the young right back, was booked in the first half for a late tackle. Looked a bit of a threat going forward but slightly suspect when defending. Don’t forget however that a certain Dujon Sterling had a very similar start to his Sky Blues’ career and look how he turned out. Give Dabo time because there is quite obviously some ability there, patience is needed as he adapts to life back in English football.
4. Michael Rose – 6
Solid but nothing that really stood out. Don’t be surprised that if not the next League game Rose is dropped for Dom Hyam to make his return from injury.
5. Kyle McFadzean – 7.5 – My Man Of The Match
Another good performance from the experienced centre half. Made many bursting runs out of central defence so offered a creative spark as well as being unbeatable in the air. Looked a threat from corners as well, going close in the first half.
3. Brandon Mason – 6
Not as impressive as he was last week but still a decent performance. Perhaps looked a little more suspect than he did against Southend but still impressive going forward.
6. Liam Kelly – 7
A good performance from the Sky Blues captain who played some good long range and through balls. Tested the Bolton keeper with a few long range shots and put a good ball in for the disallowed Biamou goal.
25. Zain Westbrooke – 5.5
Did not live up to his extremely impressive showing last week. Gave the ball away a few times with some loose balls and did not offer that same creative spark as he did on the opening weekend.
26. Jordan Shipley – 6.5
An energetic performance from Shipley. Seemed to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and made some bursting runs forward and seemed like the only City player not afraid to take a shot on, a good effort but ultimately a frustrating afternoon.
10. Wesley Jobello – 7
Much much better performance from the Frenchman this week. Had a goal disallowed but looked like more of a threat than he did against Southend, made some good runs cutting inside to the Bolton area as the young Bolton defenders struggled to contain him.
21. Amadou Bakayoko – 4.5
A Really difficult afternoon for Baka, struggled to have any impact if any on the match. Had a goal chalked off but he didn’t seem to know very much about it, you would imagine that he will be dropped for Matty Godden to make his full Sky Blues debut.
11. Jordy Hiwula – 5
A uncharacteristically quiet afternoon for Hiwula who looked slightly off the pace, Jobello down the other flank was much more effective
24. Matthew Godden – 6
Replaced Amadou Bakayoko on 60 minutes. Got himself into some good positions and looked lively after coming on, should have scored from close range just couldn’t guide the ball into the net. You would imagine he will be in line for a starting berth against Bristol Rovers next week
9. Maxime Biamou – 5
Replaced Jordy Hiwula on 60 minutes. Looked extremely (and understandably!) rusty after making his long awaited return from injury, first touch looked off however a contentious decision to rule his last minute goal for offside cost him a goal scoring return
41. Will Bapaga – 6.5
Replaced Zain Westbrooke on 87 minutes. Looked lovely during his cameo appearance, made a couple of chances with some dangerous runs. May start on Tuesday against Exeter.
Overall I think in the first half it was a very arrogant performance from the Sky Blues. It really did look like the players rocked up and thought an easy win was a formality and that they definitely were guilty of overplaying, trying to score the perfect goal with free flowing passing football in the build up. You do that when you are comfortably winning not when you are trying to break through a stubborn defence, only Manchester City can get away with playing like that. It was only after the introduction of Matty Godden that City realised that they quickly needed a goal, and then they started to go more direct. Even if you take away the 3 disallowed goals I don’t think we were actually that good, this was a game that City should have won comfortably and I just hope that these 2 points dropped don’t come back to haunt them come the end of the season. Take nothing away from Bolton’s young side however, they were excellent and did their club proud within the face of adversity. Full credit to them, this was Bolton’s day.