Formation change suited Wanderers
In the opening three games of the season in all competitions, Bolton Wanderers have lined up in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
But that changed in the defeat against Colchester United where Ian Evatt named a Wanderers side which took to the field in a 4-2-3-1.
It meant Gethin Jones and Liam Gordon playing as full-backs rather than wing-backs, with Nathan Delfouenso pushed out to the left wing and Jak Hickman out on the right.
And the different formation seemed to suit Wanderers better and the performance was a large improvement on last weekend’s poor showing against Forest Green Rovers.
Despite the end result, Evatt noted the change appeared to suit his side a lot more and it could be a blueprint for how Wanderers line up in the future.
Hickman impresses again
Hickman made his Bolton debut earlier this month against Crewe Alexandra in the EFL Trophy and caught the eye with an energetic performance at right wing-back.
He made his EFL debut yesterday against the U’s and was deployed in a more attacking position on the right hand side, with Jones behind him and taking more of the defensive duties.
Allied to the formation change, it was a position which appeared to suit Hickman, who linked up well with Jones on the right flank and put in several crosses and caused problems for the Colchester defence until he was replaced by Finlay Lockett.
The former Coventry City man was among, if not the, best players on the pitch for Wanderers at the Jobserve Community Stadium and was a positive to take despite the defeat.
Defensive lapses costing Wanderers dearly
Despite the change in formation making Wanderers look better overall, it proved to be lapses in concentration defensively which proved to be their downfall.
Wanderers had most of the better opportunities in the first half in Essex, but trailed at the break after Tom Eastman was left unmarked at the back post to head home after a corner was nodded on.
For the second goal, Jevani Brown broke clear of the Wanderers rearguard and goalkeeper Billy Crellin, who has overall had a positive start to his Bolton career, was left in no man’s land and was chipped as the U’s sealed the points.
As has been the case in previous games, Bolton conceded goals where they ‘switched off’ in the words of Evatt and it’s costing Wanderers dearly at this moment in time and needs to be addressed.
Difference in finishing proves decisive
At the other end of the pitch, Wanderers had chances throughout the game, the standout ones being when Ali Crawford hit the post in the first half and Eoin Doyle fired straight at Dean Gerken after the break.
Wanderers dominated possession against the U’s with the statistics showing they had 64% of the ball against Colchester, something Evatt acknowledged Bolton managed against a possession based team in the Essex side.
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In the shots tally however, matters were even between the two sides with 11 for the hosts and 10 for Wanderers.
Of these, Colchester had three on target and Bolton had two, but the U’s were clinical with theirs and it proved to be decisive.