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West Ham United v Bolton Wanderers

Filed: Monday, 18th September 2017
By: Preview Percy

It's fair to say that Preview Percy wasn't over-impressed with the entertainment value of the weekend's visit to The Hawthorns. In fact we actually had to wake him up to write a few words about the League Cup visit of Bolton Wanderers. Expect much grumpiness. As usual.....

Next we take a break from the day to day stuff of the league for a 3rd round League Cup tie at home to Bolton Wanderers. Kick-off is 7:45pm on Tuesday so enjoy the rush hour traffic and train tribulations and have a gander at the travel websites before you leave.

So Bolton then. Not a great start to the season it should be said. They currently anchor the table in what used to be called Division 2 having picked up just the 2 points so far this season. They have lost six of the 8 played so far, both points coming on the road courtesy of a 1-1 at Millwall and a goalless draw at Birmingham City. Other than that it’s been defeats all the way, the latest being a 2-0 reverse at Ipswich last weekend. Reports suggest that they were not without chances at Portman Road but a deflected goal just after the break and an 89th minute clincher were enough to ensure that they remained bottom with there already being a four point gap between them and safety. Boss Phil Parkinson may be looking nervously over his shoulder.

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Parkinson has the record of being the only manager to take a 4th tier club to the final of a major competition getting his Bradford City side to the final of this self-same League Cup back in 2013 where they ran up against a brick wall and went down 5-0 to Swansea. So Parkinson does have a bit of pedigree in a competition that has been a bit of a blessed release from the trials and tribulations of League life for Bolton. In round 1 Crewe were sent packing 2-1 on their own ground. In the second round they disposed of Sheffield Wednesday, going 3-0 up through Karacan, Dervite and Armstrong before late goals from Rhodes got them slightly worried. They eventually prevailed but, despite the League Cup being the one ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal season so far, not even they could be bothered to stay up until 4am to listen to the draw live.

Having been promoted from whatever that particular league was called last season, the work-experience kid of as yet-to-be determined gender wearing a hoodie who seems only able to communicate with some strange grunting noises tells me that they brought in 8 new players on permanent deals, though only two of those involved a transfer fee. The list of arrivals sounds like a veritable Who’s Who of lower league journeymen whose names will be familiar to anyone who watches the scores come in on the telly. Try this little lot for size: Adam Le Fondre, Will Buckley, Sammy Ameobi, Craig Noone, Mark Little, Aaron Wilbreham, Andrew Taylor and Stephen Darby. Even a club aspiring to mid-table mediocrity would be struggling to be whelmed by that lot.

Of slightly more, if somewhat academic, interest are two of the four loan hires they have on the books at the moment in the form of Josh Cullen and Reece Burke. Both have featured regularly in the Trotters’ first XI so, despite the tough start to the season they will at least be getting some toughening up under their respective belts. The loan deal should not have come as too much of a surprise to many – Trotters boss Parkinson had signed both on loan during his spell at Bradford a while back so he is more than aware of their capabilities. The pair are not available for selection for this one under the rules applying to the loan deal.

In a side that has mustered 4 goals in 8 league games it’s difficult to place much emphasis on the identity of the top scorer. However, for what it’s worth, top man in the league is Gary Madine who has a brace to his name. He is joined in the “all competitions” table by young Newcastle loan striker Adam Armstrong, who has been on target in both their League Cup matches thus far. He might be one to watch as part of that odd thing that sees some players have hot spells in particular competitions. His best spell was the 15-16 season spent with Coventry where he hit 20 in 40 matches, though he has yet to open his scoring in the 17 first XI league appearances he has made for his parent club. He was part of the England U20 squad this summer, picking up a World Cup winner’s medal as an unused sub in the 1-0 final win over Venezuela.

And so to us. Well the West Brom game wasn’t much to write home about. I tried. They returned the letter.
They seemed so frightened of losing two on the trot after the Brighton game they quite forgot that they were the team beginning with “West” who were at home. Their end of season DVD compilation will be a barrel of laughs on that showing. Obiang’s shot that came off the bar was about the only thing of note through the whole match really. It was odd because I was only thinking during the warm-up how rare such efforts were given how much time ‘keepers spend off their line.

Talking of ‘keepers Foster was a bit lucky, wasn’t he? Tierney was so busy making sure that he didn’t issue an erroneous red for denial of goalscoring opportunity (or DOGSO as it’s known in the trade) that he completely forgot to consider the nature of the challenge itself which, with two feet off the ground, could easily have been thought of as a straight red, and probably would have been had it been an outfield player.

Good as the away point was (in terms of its intrinsic value) one still has concerns. The recent move to a back three does suit the defenders available to us who, if I can put this kindly, are not what you might call blessed with an awful lot of pace. However, lining up in this manner does come with a cost, that being the tendency for two of your front three to play wide and a bit deep. Antonio is ok on the right – he has a natural width to his game – but Hernandez is wasted out on the left. Given his reputation (or “rep” as I believe the kids say) for being at home in the penalty area it would seem logical to try and play to that particular strength. It’s almost as if we have been told “you can have either a decent defence or a decent attack – but not both”.

There’s good and bad news on the injury front. Ginge’s ankle looked serious enough to keep him out for some time – well done to the ignorant tossers at West Brom who booed him. Noble and Fernandes are said to be close to a return and then we have Lanzini. The little Argentinian was sorely missed at The Hawthorns and, though the official list stills show him as a major doubt, the word is that the player has been training for a bit but won't be risked for this one.

We can expect a number of changes. I would have thought Zabaleta might have a night off given that he has four of the five yellow cards required for an enforced week's break at this stage of the season. One would imagine that the likes of Byram and Ogbonna will get to stretch their legs whilst Sakho and Ayew may also start.

Prediction? Well I know we have this "rep" for coming up short against the lower orders but even with an alternative starting XI we ought to have enough to get past Bolton. I will therefore place the traditional £2.50 on the counter at Winstone the Turf Accountant in return for a wager for a 3-1 home win, thus seeing us through to the next round which, on past form, will take place on Thursday at 3am in a slient running submarine sitting off the coast of Alaska, the final draw to be delivered by a suitably graffiti-ed cruise missile aimed in the general direction of North Korea.

Well it's no more stupid than the draws for the previous rounds.

Enjoy the game!

When Last We Met At The Boleyn Lost 1-3 Premier League August 2010
A bizarre game that, had we taken our early chances we would have won by a cricket score. A boot to Upson’s face from Davies prompted an OG as Marriner waved play on. Four hours later Upson’s face was still not in any fit state to be x-rayed which was interesting, given Marriner’s insistence that nothing had happened. We bossed the match but were suckered into conceding a second from Elmander with 20 left. A Noble penalty – one of five that ought to have been awarded – gave hope but Davies wrestled Gabbidon to the ground, Taylor played the ball through to Elmander with his arm and we were 3-1 down. These things even themselves up according to some idiots. I’m waiting…

Referee: Simon Hooper
One of the second tier of professional referees so we haven’t encountered him so far. A quick google search seems to indicate that Mr Hooper’s full name is “Controversial Referee Simon Hooper”. His highlight of the season so far was sending off a Fulham defender within 30 seconds of the start of a match for a very dubious DOGSO decision. According to a genuinely neutral observer of my acquaintance he then ignored all sorts of nailed-on yellow card offences for the next 70 minutes. A potential leveller then.

Danger Man: Adam Armstrong
Selected as a horse for this particular League Cup course.

Percy’s Poser:
Last week we asked you "what is Jermain Jenas's problem?" Congratulations to Mrs Dorothy Stormy-Petrel of Harlow New Town who correctly stated "he's a no mark ex footballer who thinks ten minutes of media training will somehow cover up for a lack of knowledge and the fact that he is using his platform to peddle his petty prejudices to the licence paying public". Well done Dorothy!

This week we take you back to 1923 and the famous "White Horse" final to ask you: What was the name of the horse and what happened to him after the final.

Best of luck everyone!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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