BWFC March Preview: Derbies & Six-Pointers

  • February 27, 2014 | By Sean McNeilly
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Just two months of the Championship season remain, so let's take a look at what lies ahead for Bolton in March.

A win at the Reebok Stadium on the final matchday in February provided a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel for Wanderers fans. 2014 has not been a great year to be a supporter of Bolton so far and the 2-0 victory over Watford was the first league success of the New Year. Calls for the manager's head and money woes off-the-field have been mixed with poor performances and too many goals being conceded on it. I almost feel like I'd take the season ending now and starting afresh in the summer, but we can't do that can we? So let's crack on!

The businest month of the campaign is now upon us - with no less than seven matches in March. The Whites kick off on March 1 with the first of four derby matches, as Blackburn Rovers head to the Reebok. A visit to Elland Road to face Leeds United follows a week later, before the first midweek fixture of the month sees Dougie take his boys to the iPro Stadium for the second 'Derby' match - with Derby County the opponents. Now there's a play on words for you to enjoy! I digress, but we could really do with some humour couldn't we? A home tie against Brighton & Hove Albion in March 15 is followed by a possible relegation six-pointer at Yeovil Town a week later. The month ends with two home clashes against local opposition, with the visits of Blackpool and Wigan Athletic on March 25 and 29, respectively.

Old rivals Blackburn are first up, with memories of the 4-1 loss at Ewood Park last August still haunting all our nightmares. Rovers seem to have got themselves together of late and a late push for the play-offs is a very realistic target. Gary Bowyer, after two spells as caretaker manager, is performing remarkably well in his first full-time managerial post. It comes as no surprise that hit-man Jordan Rhodes is the one to watch for Rovers, but with no goals in his last six league outings it could be time to take advantage. This is always a tough match for us, but there could be some wind left in the sails after the Watford win.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
9 Blackburn Rovers 31 12 10 9 38 35 46 3
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12

One To Watch: Jordan Rhodes
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Blackburn Rovers (Eagles)


Leeds United, this season? Words escape me, which doesn't help this article I suppose. So let's give it a try. Who owns the club? Who is the manager? I'm sure these are questions that Brian McDermott is asking himself every morning, too. On the field, life isn't so bad at all. A late push for the play-offs isn't a pipedream away. They boast the division's top goalscorer, in Ross McCormack, and they have a starting XI full of talent, with the ability to beat most in this league. The issue, as it has been all season, is not letting off-the-field antics affect what's happening on it. So far, that ideal situation has been hit and miss. A tough match is certain, especially following the defeat at Elland Road earlier in the season. Let's just hope for some off-the-field madness to put the players off.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
11 Leeds United 31 12 7 12 43 39 43 4
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12

One To Watch: Ross McCormack
Last Season: Leeds United 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (Becchio (pen))


Steve McClaren has been doing some impressive work since taking over as Derby boss earlier this season. The Rams, at the time of writing, are only two points from the automatic promotion spots. I wouldn't be surprised it, at the time of kick-off, if the manager, formally famous for holding brollies and changing accents, is even closer to taking County up automatically. They have a squad bursting with talent, being moulded by a proven manager at this level. Their stand-out players include Jamie Ward, Chris Martin and Craig Bryson, while 'Schteve' also has a hot young prospect on his hands in Will Hughes. This will be one of the toughest trips remaining this season, if not the toughest! I'm sure Dougie would take anything from it - I know I would.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
3 Derby County 32 18 7 7 60 40 61 20
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12

One To Watch: Craig Bryson
Last Season: Derby County 1-1 Bolton Wanderers (Ward; Keogh (og))


Brighton visit the Reebok on March 15. The Seagulls have been hard to call this season, but manager Oscar Garcia seems to have found the winning rhythm in recent weeks and they are certainly in the mix for a play-off spot. Garcia has been heavily reliant on striker Jose Ulloa and has admitted as much himself, but he will also be very thankful to his backline - which includes the hugely experienced Tomasz Kuszczak and England's joint top-scorer in the 2010 World Cup, Matthew Upson. Bolton lost at the AMEX back in September, despite going a goal in front. Another tough match awaits.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
8 Brighton & Hove Albion 31 12 10 9 33 27 46 6
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12

One To Watch: Jose Ulloa
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Brighton & Hove Albion (Alonso)


Bolton make a trip to Yeovil on March 22, with the possibility that this could still be a relegation six-pointer making my whole body shudder with fear! Yeovil were the pre-season favourites for relegation and they have certainly lived up to that billing so far. At the time of writing, Gary Johnson's men find themselves rock bottom of the Championship and I wouldn't bet against them staying there. After a woeful showing from the Whites at the Reebok when the teams met at the end of September, Bolton cannot lose here. The real possibility of being dragged into a fight for survival is looming over us all at the moment and games like this provide an opportunity to relieve the pressure.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12
24 Yeovil Town 31 6 7 18 27 47 25 -20

One To Watch: James Hayter


A midweek derby is in store at the Reebok when Blackpool are the visitors on March 25. The Seasiders started the season like they were intent on giving promotion a real go, but that dream has wilted away and they are now nervously looking over their shoulders. Barry Ferguson is currently at the helm, albeit on a non-permanent basis. His task was made even more difficult with the January departure of former Daddy's boy Tom Ince. To be fair, he had spent enough time at this level and the Premier League had to be given a fair crack. This is another match that could prove to be an unwanted six-pointer, but, after a recent FA Cup win, I have confidence that Wanderers can grab a much-needed three points here.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
18 Blackpool 32 8 11 13 29 44 35 -15
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12

One To Watch: Kirk Broadfoot
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Blackpool (Eagles, C Davies; Phillips, Sylvestre)


Wigan provide the final opposition of the month. The FA Cup holders have had a busy season; This game will be, fixtures permitting, their 50th of the campaign. That's as many as Dougie's troops will have played come the end of the season - unless we make the play-offs...(I'm here all week!) - Dave Whelan will be pleased with Uwe Rosler, I reckon, making the last eight in their defence of the FA Cup so far and right on the edge of the play-offs, coming up to the business end of the season. It seems as if Wigan have been making at least one or two new signings every week, but they have players who can change games by themselves - none more so than Nick Powell. Again, this is another tough one to call - especially with the season we are having. I'd take a point, but Wigan will be going all out to ensure they have a chance at promotion come May.

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
7 Wigan Athletic 31 14 7 10 37 29 49 8
19 Bolton Wanderers 32 7 12 13 37 49 33 -12

One To Watch: Nick Powell


Play-off hopefuls and relegation candidates seem to be the opposition each week in March, meaning no games where Bolton can relax. This is good news. A kick up the backside is needed and let's hope the threat of a relegation fight sees fortunes turn around and some wins on the board. Positive thinking, or misguided optimism? It's over to you lads!

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
13 Accrington Stanley 27 36
14 Charlton Athletic 27 33
15 Bolton Wanderers 26 32
16 Lincoln City 26 31
17 Cheltenham Town 27 31
View Full Standings >>


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