"Wanderers in that happy valley"
We welcome Ian Evatt’s Trotters side as we hope to repeat the magic formula that resulted in one of the upsets of the day at Prenton Park. It was considered such an upset that Rory Holden and Wes McDonald were named in the “League 2 team of the week”, managed by Darrell Clarke! Another major upset saw Bolton Wanderers (previous 4 games WWWW) lose 3-6 at home to Port Vale (previous 4 games LLLL). Reaction on a Bolton fans’ message board suggest that Port Vale had nothing more “magic” than an energetic high-pressing game, being first to every 50/50 ball etc., … much the same tactic that served us so well at Tranmere, perhaps?
There aren’t many connections between our two clubs, largely because Wanderers have historically occupied places many divisions above ourselves, but some contributors may remember Steve Elliott (1984-86, signed from Luton Town, then moved to Bolton), John Manning (1971-72, signed from Bolton Wanderers then moved to Tranmere. He only made 14 appearances for us but scored 6 goals, not a bad conversion rate), and of course Michael Ricketts (1995-2000, with Bolton paying a reported £400,000. He went on to get one England cap).
After a poor start to this season Wanderers’ form picked up in November, and they’ve lifted themselves out of the drop zone to the top half of the table. Their current League 2 form looks like this:-
November 3rd Mansfield Town (H) Drew 1-1
November 13th Salford City (H) Won 2-0
November 21st Stevenage (A) Won 1-2
November 24th Scunthorpe United (A) Won 0-1
November 28th Southend United (H) Won 3-0
December 5th Port Vale (H) Lost 3-6
Incidentally, before their hammering by Port Vale, Bolton’s goal difference was 17-18, which is exactly what ours is now…
So, what will Tinkerman be preparing for this latest episode in his project? Hopefully he will (injuries permitting) name an unchanged line-up, with instructions to take the game to the opposition. Our strikers have probably benefitted from the likes of Dan Scarr coming forward for set pieces to add to our goal threat, and we seem to have found out (occasionally) how to take corner kicks!
Prediction? If the same team turns up that featured at Tranmere then a home win should be well within our capabilities. No doubt Bolton Wanderers will be busy putting to rights any shortcomings from that dreadful performance against Port Vale, but conceding 6 goals at home isn’t always that easy to put from the mind. This has to be a 2-0 result (at least), with Gordon and Adebayo netting, to lift us up to the play-off zone chasing pack.