BWFC February Preview: Freedman Reunion Awaits

  • February 04, 2015 | By Sean McNeilly
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Bolton could take to the field as many as eight times in February. Sean McNeilly takes a look at the month ahead at Macron Stadium.

2015 started with a mixed month for Neil Lennon's side. They may only have won once in the league since the turn of the year, but beating Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, that draw at Anfield and the emergence of Zach Clough have been real positives.

Now, the busiest month of the season is upon us as Bolton could take to the field no fewer than eight times in 24 days. So, who's up then?

Firstly, of course, is the FA Cup fourth-round replay against Liverpool under the Macron Stadium floodlights on Wednesday. Lennon's troops then travel to promotion-chasing Derby County, before swiftly making their way back home to face Fulham. Scheduled next would be a home match against Watford, unless Liverpool are beaten, in which case a trip to Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace will await in the fifth round of the FA Cup. A trip to Dougie Freedman's, yes THAT Dougie, Nottingham Forest is quickly followed by a trip to the Riverside Stadium to face another promotion-chasing outfit, in Middlesbrough. Finally, the month is rounded off with the visit of Brighton & Hove Albion.

After leaving everything on the pitch at Anfield, the Whites have earned their cup replay against Liverpool. A tough night is in store again though, especially with old boy Daniel Sturridge likely to get his first start in five months after coming off the bench and scoring on his return at the weekend. A recent busy schedule and an upcoming Merseyside derby means there may be some rotation from Brendan Rodgers, but don't expect a reserve team outing as the Reds have pinpointed this competition as a fitting swan-song for leaving captain Steven Gerrard.

One To Watch: Daniel Sturridge


A game against last season's Premier League runners up is followed by the team currently placed 2nd in the Championship, as Bolton head to Derby. Steve McClaren has found himself linked with a move to the top-flight recently and he has earned these links. Derby are one of the most formidable outfits in the division and the Rams will be in the mix at the end of the season, of that you can be sure. A team littered with talent in every area of the pitch, just a few of the players that stand out include top scorer Chris Martin, hot-property Will Hughes and playmaker Johnny Russell, while Darren Bent has got his Rams career off to a flying start. Derby also boast the second best home record of the season so far, only losing two of their 14 matches. Taking anything back from this Saturday's game would be seen as a real positive.

One To Watch: Chris Martin
Last Season: Derby County 0-0 Bolton Wanderers


At the time of writing, we find ourselves level on points with Fulham, which says a lot about how the Cottagers' first season since relegation has gone in the Championship. It's had its ups, it's had its downs. After a tough start they seemed to be getting back on track, including a night at Craven Cottage we'd all like to forget, but now find themselves struggling a little again. Kit Symons will be hoping for a late promotion push and will be looking to players like Ross McCormack and Scott Parker to use their experience to take him there, as both have been average at best thus far. Tim Hoogland was picked out by yours truly when writing about Fulham earlier this season and he has proved to be a great signing, as has Danish midfielder Lasse Vigen Christensen, who is the second top Fulham goalscorer and third highest assist maker. Never an easy game, but Lennon will expect something in front of the home crowd from this one.

One To Watch: Lasse Vigen Christensen


I know I'd be preferring a trip to Palace rather than hosting Watford in our next game - who doesn't love a cup run? Either way, a tough match is in store. Watford, at the time of writing, find themselves in the play-off places, while Palace are rejuvenated with the return of former player Alan Pardew. We'll know which way this is going on Wednesday evening.


It didn't take too long for Dougie Freedman to get back into management and it won't be long before he is pitting his wits against his Macron Stadium replacement. Putting Dougie to one side, it was obvious that Nottingham Forest needed a change after a run of results that have seen them plummet down the league table. After starting the season like they were nailed on favourites to win promotion, the Reds now find themselves in mid-table with some faint play-off hopes which is not too dissimilar to ourselves. There is some quality in Dougie's new dressing room, and none more than the prolific Britt Assombalonga. 14 goals in his first season with Forest is a great return and the kind of form that can take a team on a charge to the play-offs. Dougie has a tough job on his hands, especially considering the fans at the City Ground want and are used to better. There will be no talk of getting one over the former boss officially; just about getting three points, but we all want this one that little bit more now don't we.

One To Watch: Britt Assombalonga
Last Season: Nottingham Forest 3-0 Bolton Wanderers (Mackie, Reid, Lansbury)


Middlesbrough are promotion contenders, there are no two ways about it. At the time of writing, they are in 3rd, one point from top spot. Aitor Karanka has proven to be a shrewd appointment by the board at the Riverside and he has his team playing some great stuff. They currently top the home form-table having lost once in the last 11 and can boast knocking English champions Manchester City out of the FA Cup on their own turf. Boro have a real team unity vibe going on, as everyone seems to chip in with their part. Some of the most impressive members of the team include Chelsea loanee Patrick Bamford, midfield maestro Adam Clayton, and the surprising top scorer Grant Leadbitter. Another tough trip for the Trotters, another case that taking anything home would be a bonus.

One To Watch: Adam Clayton
Last Season: Middlesbrough 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (Leadbitter (pen))


The final match of the month sees Chris Hughton bring his Brighton & Hove Albion team to the Macron. Pre-season thoughts for the Seagulls would have been more towards promotion, but they find themselves in a very real relegation battle. What hasn't helped is the lack of any form over the season and Hughton has followed suit so far with his first few games. Beating Ipswich Town and then giving Arsenal a great game was followed by losing against Blackpool. Hughton has a real job on his hands and needs his squad to start performing. For Lennon and the lads though, this provides the perfect opportunity to end the month on a high. Three points will be a must.

One To Watch: Rohan Ince
Last Season: Brighton & Hove Albion 3-1 Bolton Wanderers (Spearing (og), Calderon, Buckley; Lopez (og))


There is a lot on this month then, and a lot to look forward to - starting with that replay on Wednesday night. For my next article, I hope I'm writing about our FA Cup quarter-final opponents and the fact we've closed the gap on the play-offs. Why not think positive, Neil Lennon seems to bring the best out of us all!

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
View Full Standings >>


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34.62% Gary O'Neil
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9.27% Joe Williams
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2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone