BWFC December Preview: Tingle All the Way

  • December 04, 2014 | By Sean McNeilly
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Christmas is upon us and a busy month awaits Bolton Wanderers, who will hope to steer clear of the relegation zone going into 2015.

What a November that was - 3 wins, 1 draw and no losses is the type of form that gives you tingles. The kind of tingles that make you look forward to the next match, that make you look towards 6th place on a Saturday evening rather than 22nd.

What a difference a manager can make. Neil Lennon has been putting Bolton back on the football map, and coming across as a class act while doing so.

The final month of 2014 begins with a trip to Reading on the 6th, before Mick McCarthy brings his Ipswich Town to Macron Stadium a week later. A Friday night trip to Millwall on the 19th is followed by a Boxing Day Bonanza, as Blackburn come to town. Finally, a trip to recent opponents Huddersfield finishes off the month, and the year, on the 28th.

First up then; Reading. Maybe one of the most unpredictable teams in a very unpredictable league. A squad of undoubted talent that hasn't been able to put together a significant run of results just yet to challenge for the top 6 - though a win at faltering Norwich last weekend will give them a boost coming into the busy festive period. The Royals have one of the best strike partnerships in this league with Glenn Murray and Simon Cox. They are both proven goalscorers at this level and are showing it this season - with 12 between them. While young winger Jordan Obita is winning admirers with his pace and ability to create a chance, it's our gaffer's fellow countryman Oliver Norwood who is my one to watch for The Royals. Reading seem to have pulled off a bit of a coup by signing the ex-Manchester United youngster from Huddersfield in the summer, and Lennon will have to have a plan in place to try to stop him from running the show. Bolton take a poor away record to the Madjeski's patchy home record, so I can't see a clear result either way. But surely, surely, it cant be as bad as last season.

One To Watch: Oliver Norwood
Last Season: Reading 7-1 Bolton Wanderers (Le Fondre 3, Pogrebnyak, Gorkss, Akpan, Blackman; Ngog)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
14 Reading 19 7 3 9 25 30 24 -5
18 Bolton Wanderers 19 6 3 10 22 18 21 -6


Ipswich are December's first visitors to the Macron and they don't come much tougher at the moment. The Tractor Boys have lost only once since a derby day defeat to Norwich back in August, a run which has seen them rocket into the automatic promotion places. That run has been based on a solid defence, with the third least goals conceded in the league currently. Tyrone Mings, Tommy Smith and, especially, Christophe Berra have been superb at the back and have contributed up top as well; Berra and Smith have 6 goals between them. I'm not forgetting about the main man up top either; Daryl Murphy has been quite simply superb so far. He is only bettered in the league goal charts by the quite ridiculous Britt Assombalonga. After three loan spells at Portman Road, the Irishman is having the season of his life and could well be leading Ipswich to the promise land next season. We'll be much happier playing Town at home, as their away record isn't nearly as good as at Portman Road; though, saying that, we'd take their record of only two away losses from 10. A tough Saturday is in store.

One To Watch: Daryl Murphy
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Ipswich Town (Kamara; McGoldrick)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
2 Ipswich Town 19 9 7 3 28 19 34 9
18 Bolton Wanderers 19 6 3 10 22 18 21 -6


Millwall started the season well, losing only once in their first five games. Since then, though, Ian Holloway's men have been brought back to Earth a little, as they find themselves in the lower reaches of the bottom half. It would be fair to say that the Lions' main aim in August would have been to secure their Championship status and there is every chance of that being the case by the end of the season. Ex-Trotter Danny Shittu has been finding form while wearing the captain's armband and he will be trying extra hard against former team mates to keep a clean sheet. He will be backed up by, in my opinion, a very underrated 'keeper in David Forde. He is proving himself to be a quality shot-stopper and leader from the back for club and country. Goals have been shared across the squad for Millwall, which includes journeymen Ricardo Fuller and Scott McDonald chipping in with their share. But it's midfielder Shaun Williams who looks the most likely to cause a threat to the Wanderers. The former MK Dons maestro is in his first season at this level and has taken to it like a duck to hoisin sauce. This match has the potential of three points for Bolton, though it will be no walkover.

One To Watch: Shaun Williams
Last Season: Millwall 1-1 Bolton Wanderers (Woolford; Jutkiewicz)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
18 Bolton Wanderers 19 6 3 10 22 18 21 -6
20 Millwall 19 4 8 7 21 26 20 -5


The match we all look for when the fixtures come out in the summer has to be Blackburn at the Macron and this season Boxing Day has the pleasure of hosting t'classico. Unfortunately, for us, Blackburn are currently riding high in the play-off places. A place we can only dream of at the moment. Blackburn boast one of the hottest properties in the Championship with Jordan Rhodes, and the hit-man has found a formidable strike partner this season with Rudy Gestede. The Frenchman has notched 11 goals this season and, adding that to Rhodes' 7, they are running this impressive charge up the table. A player who is really impressing though has to be Ben Marshall. The winger has goals, assists and all round performances to make him a danger to any team. This is a tough one, but Lennon has got the boys believing in him and his footballing philosophies, not to mention he has brought a passionate belief in the team back to the terraces. We'll all be up for this one and, unlike Reading, a repeat of last season would be more than welcome.

One To Watch: Ben Marshall
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 4-0 Blackburn Rovers (Kamara, Mason, Spearing, Moritz)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
6 Blackburn Rovers 19 8 7 4 30 26 31 4
18 Bolton Wanderers 19 6 3 10 22 18 21 -6


A trip to Huddersfield rounds us off this month and this year. It was only November 29 that the Whites picked up a hard fought, but deserved, 1-0 win against Chris Powell's men. The return is bound to be another close encounter. Powell started off on fire with the Terriers, but November wasn't so kind. One point from the last four is not the type of form that will keep you away from the drop zone, as we all know too well, but, to be fair, that run has included trips to Derby County and a resurgent Fulham. Powell does have some talent on his hands, most notably with Harry Bunn, Jacob Butterfield, top scorer Nahki Wells and recent loan acquisition Diego Poyet, and will hope this is enough to ensure their Championship status come May. That being said, the home and away double is there for the taking for Bolton though, and I see no reason why not to be confident.

One To Watch: Nahki Wells
Last Season: Huddersfield Town 0-1 Bolton Wanderers (Mason)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
18 Bolton Wanderers 19 6 3 10 22 18 21 -6
19 Huddersfield Town 19 5 6 8 25 32 21 -7


2015 is just around the corner and I, for one, cannot wait to see where we can go with Lennon at the helm. Whether or not he'll have funds to play with in January remains to be seen, though recent toe-dipping in the free market says there might be something there. A lot to look forward to this December and beyond, and I haven't even mentioned Father Christmas.

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Cheltenham Town 40 72
2 Cambridge United 41 71
3 Bolton Wanderers 40 67
4 Tranmere Rovers 40 65
5 Morecambe 40 63
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