Bolton Man Faces Ban Over Sorensen Elbow

Credit Graham Burrell

For all my anger at the performance of Geoff Eltringham on Friday, I missed what was perhaps the worst error of them all.

Before I go on, I’m not saying Joe Walsh shouldn’t have been sent off, only that if his first booking was a cautionable offence, the Bolton player should also have got one. I also do think Regan Poole was lucky not to be sent off, but the referee did see that challenge and made a judgement.

What he did not see, nor did I, was a blatant elbow to the face of Lasse Sorensen. It’s an awful moment, a deliberate act, made worse by the fact it took place as they scored their goal, a goal that shouldn’t have stood given the challenge. The ref missed it, which I think I can accept given he was watching play on the other side of the area, but how has the assistant missed it?

The FA haven’t missed it. They’ve charged Afolayan with violent conduct, and he now faces a three-match ban, as per this statement released last night. “Bolton Wanderers FC’s Oladapo Afolayan has been charged with a breach of FA Rule E1.1 following the EFL League One fixture against Lincoln City FC on Friday 30 December 2022. It is alleged that the forward’s behaviour during the 57th minute of the fixture constituted violent conduct. He has until Sunday 1 January 2023 to provide a response.”

The news has triggered a war of words between two sets of fans on social media, with some Bolton supporters hiding behind the ‘whataboutery’ defence, citing Poole’s challenge. In fairness, some Imps fans have blindness when it comes to Poole’s booking as well, but it’s not a defence for Trotters supporters – Poole’s challenge was seen and mishandled by the officials, whereas the assault (because that’s what it is) on Sorensen was completely missed, and had it not been, we’d have remained 1-0 up, and would have been playing 10 men (it was before Walsh’s red).

Also, I’ve seen some say Sorensen was not watching play, but instead watching his man, meaning he was partly at fault. If that’s you (and one very specific Bolton fan said it), you know nothing about football. Watch the attacking corner we had that I clipped up here – your players are watching ours, and we’re watching the ball. It’s what happens, but you’ll notice in the clip there are no elbows from our players (although the referee does spot a foul, somewhere).

Got his whistle and cards in a cracker at Christmas. Probably – Credit Graham Burrell

It’s easy to pick over the carcass of a match like the Bolton clash, and it’s also easy for both sets of supporters to blame the other team. Ian Evatt claims the problems came from our bench, not theirs, and they were just getting on with the match. I’ll reserve judgement on that, but what I would say is this; how many matches this season have been like that? One? Against Bolton? Funny, because if you ask fans of, say, Shrewsbury, they have a similar experience. I can’t call out Bolton’s bench’s behaviour because we loved it when it worked in our favour between 2016 and 2019, but recognising and owning it is important. Sadly, a vocal minority of Trotters fans on social media just can’t. Remember, it is a minority as well; it was a minority that smashed up our pubs when a previous fixture was postponed. It would be wrong to taint all Bolton fans because a handful on social media think a deliberate elbow to the face is nothing more than a ‘coming together’. Luckily, whilst the matchday officials were competent enough to pick it up, the FA have been.