The day started terribly for Bolton Wanderers but ended in a blaze of glory. Several players stepped up in the second half, who made the biggest leap?
Some might want to break with tradition and give the bottle of bubbly to caretaker manager Jimmy Phillips. I do not fall into this group. Despite the eventual fightback and victory, the team did come out flat and concede two goals in the first twenty minutes. Fact is, no one covered themselves in glory the first third of an hour or so.
So, do we disregard the bad start?
Chris Eagles gave his usual uneven performance. He scored on a free kick, his sixth goal of the season. He gave the ball away quite a bit. He created chances for his teammates. He fell short of fulfilling his full defensive responsibilities. Maybe we are starting to take him for granted a little bit.
Kevin Davies set up a goal, threw some elbows, held the ball up well, and won a few headers. Pretty typical performance from the captain. I still don't think he can play a 90-minute game every four days for the next seven months at a high level. There is going to need to be rotation. He certainly picked his moments today.
If you just half-watched the first half, Martin Petrov is the last name you would expect to see on this list. However, he brought something in his return to the team we have been sorely missing; accurate deliveries. Petrov put in several crosses and a lot of corner kicks today. He eventually scored the winner, which was great, but the threat he creates on the left with his deliveries opens the rest of the field up for everyone else. In spite of his reputation as somewhat selfish player, Petrov actually made his teammates better today.
All worthy candidates, but one man stood above them all. Ironic, because they all tower over him. Jay Spearing, on loan from Liverpool, was all over the pitch today. He scored his first goal for Bolton. He did a phenomenal job protecting the defense, and he did it all while essentially playing two positions, because his supposed midfield partner, Mark Davies, one again went missing for most of the match.