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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John McDougall

Bodvarsson, 4-3-3 observations - Two ups & two downs from Bolton Wanderers' loss to Barnsley

Bolton Wanderers were knocked out of the FA Cup in the first round at the hands of fellow League One side Barnsley.

The match was fewer than six minutes old when Bolton skipper Ricardo Santos inadvertantly put through his own goal from Nicky Cadden's dangerous cross to give the Tykes an early lead. Dion Charles appeared to have equalised not long after, but his header was chalked off for offside.

Barnsley doubled their advantage before half-time as Adam Phillips fired home a smart strike from the edge of the box. It gave James Trafford little chance.

READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers player ratings vs Barnsley - Jon Dadi Bodvarsson good in FA Cup exit

After the break, Charles again had the ball in the back of the net but it was once more ruled out for offside. But Jon Dadi Bodvarsson halved the deficit with 10 minutes to go with a powerful header which Barnsley's rearguard could not keep out on the line.

Despite continuing to press for an equaliser, it did not come for Bolton and the Whites exited the competition with a 2-1 defeat. Barnsley progress to the second round draw, which takes place on Monday evening.

Here, we analyse the loss from a Bolton perspective and the ups and downs from it.


Bodvarsson impact from the bench

Wanderers boss Ian Evatt again turned to his bench to influence a game in a positive manner, as he frequently has done in recent weeks. Bodvarsson and Amadou Bakayoko were among those summoned.

Wanderers' two more physical centre forwards had a positive impact on the encounter, as Wanderers reverted to a more familar 3-5-2 formation. It was one where, against a tiring defence, the pair were able to cause problems.

Bakayoko's energy and Bodvarsson's hold-up play were big assets for Wanderers. The Iceland international's header was too powerful to stop and looked like it might inspire yet another comeback we have become accustomed to in recent weeks.

Positives from fresh formation

Wanderers lined up in a 4-3-3 fomation for the first half of the encounter. It is a system much of this squad has not played too much in from the beginning of a game.

The main plus point from it was that Dapo Afolayan and Kieran Sadlier were able to line up in more familiar positions on the left and right flank of the attack. The 3-5-2 Wanderers have often lined up in has often not best suited the pair.

Sadlier in particular looked threatening in the first half, with several decent crosses, one of which was converted by Charles only to be chalked off for offside. Despite no goals which stood, it gave Sadlier an opportunity to show what he can do.


Out of the FA Cup

Wanderers boss Evatt made no secret that his record in the FA Cup is not what it could be. For the fourth season in a row, Wanderers failed to make it out of the competition at the first round stage.

As well as missing out on £41,000 worth of prize money, the aim of reaching the third round and the potential of a glamour tie against Championship or Premier League opposition is put on the back burner for another year. The last time Bolton were in the third round was in the 2018/29 campaign.

With both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup no longer considerations, Wanderers have only League One and the next round of the Papa Johns Trophy to be concerned about.

Defensively poor especially in first half

Though there were positives from the 4-3-3, there were also negatives which came with it. Chief among this being what Wanderers gained in attack, they seemed to lose in defence.

Barnsley's second goal typified this most. Phillips was free on the edge of the box to rifle home a very good finish into the top corner, but it was poor defensively from a Wanderers perspective.

The new set-up seemed to make Wanderers appear more vulnerable at the back, while the Tykes duly exploited. Work is needed to ensure that it becomes watertight again.

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