Bolton’s unbeaten start to the season came to an end on Tuesday night as they were beaten 5-4 on penalties by Wigan in the League Cup.
Wanderers made their way through to the second round by beating Championship side Barnsley on penalties earlier this month, but fortune was not on their side for the second time as Nathan Delfouneso blazed over from the spot to see them crash out of the competition.
Ian Evatt’s side are unbeaten in League One after starting the campaign with two wins and two draws – both 3-3 – and will be disappointed that they have tasted defeat for the first time since last season.
Despite losing, though, there was one player who could give Evatt a selection headache ahead of their League One clash with fellow newly-promoted side Cambridge United on Saturday: Alex Baptiste.
The experienced central defender started Bolton’s first two matches of the campaign, which both ended 3-3, and was subsequently dropped for the following two games. It is hard to argue with the manager’s decision to take him out of the side after they conceded six goals in 180 minutes of football, but his performance against Wigan shows that he still has something to offer.
Per SofaScore, Baptiste was the highest-rated outfield player on the pitch for Bolton with a score of 7.5 for his display. The veteran enforcer and George Johnston (7.1) were the only players other than the goalkeeper Matt Gilks (8.7) to achieve a score higher than 6.8, which shows how he stood out.
Baptiste won 75% of his duels (6/8) in the match, including 100% of his three aerial battles to keep Wigan’s attackers at bay. He also made three tackles and four clearances, whilst no opposition player was able to dribble past him in the entire 90 minutes.
With 61 touches of the ball and a pass completion rate of 84%, Baptiste also showed that he could play out from the back competently. He completed six of his nine long passes, which shows that he was able to demonstrate his range of passing, playing it short and long when needed.
This performance could now give Evatt a selection headache ahead of the Cambridge game as Baptiste put in a strong defensive showing. At the end of the day, all the centre-back can do is produce impressive displays when called upon and hope that it earns him a place in the side at the weekend and this match was a great start.