BWFC March Preview: Mid-Table Mediocrity Awaits

  • March 03, 2015 | By Sean McNeilly
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/4b17b

With mid-table consolidation at stake in March, Sean McNeilly takes a look at the month ahead at Macron Stadium.

Zach Clough's winner against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday brought only a second win from seven games in February, which is not exactly the kind of form that would have been needed to stage a late play-off push. Now that we're coming into the final 12 matches of the season, a strong finish with next season in mind must be top of Neil Lennon's agenda.

There are five games in March for the lads to impress the boss and it all starts on Tuesday night with the visit of Reading to the Macron. A weekend off is followed by a midweek derby under the floodlights at Blackburn Rovers. Next, Millwall come to town on the 14th and, finally, trips to Ipswich Town and then rivals Wigan Athletic, on the 17th and 21st respectively, round off the month.

Bolton and Reading are level on points going into their battle on Tuesday night. Steve Clarke hasn't had the easiest of times in his tenure as Royals boss but, similar to his counterpart in the Wanderers dugout, will be hoping for a successful first full season. Top goalscorer Simon Cox, in his second stint at Reading, is the main threat that Clarke has at his disposal, but talents like recent loan acquisition Nathaniel Chalobah and Hal Robson-Kanu are two that can also cause real trouble. Reading have been a bit all over the place with their results this season (sound familiar?) and have lost the last two 3-0, though they have won two of the last three away from the Madejski so the result may depend on which Reading turns up. Lennon should be thinking differently and will have every confidence in taking three points to get the month off to a bang.

One To Watch: Simon Cox
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Reading (Pratley; Blackman (pen))

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
17 Bolton Wanderers 34 11 7 16 42 53 40 -11
18 Reading 34 11 7 16 36 52 40 -16

 

The less said about our last trip to Ewood Park, the better. Swiftly moving on - Blackburn have an FA Cup quarter-final this weekend, hence the move of this Championship match to Wednesday. Away from their impressive run in the cup, Rovers hold some outside hope in making the play-offs this season. Two main reasons for this slim chance are Jordan Rhodes and Rudy Gestede. The two have scored the majority of Blackburn's goals this season and will need to be under strict guard to ensure that doesn't continue. Another impressive performer for manager Gary Bowyer has to be on loan Trotters defender Alex Baptiste. With the struggles we've had at right-back this season, it's been tough to see Baptise performing so well up the road. Of course, he will not be eligible to play in this match. This is always a big game for us, as fans, and all of us will be hoping to take something away from a tough test at Ewood.

One To Watch: Rudy Gestede
Last Season: Blackburn Rovers 4-1 Bolton Wanderers (Dunn, Rhodes 2, Evans; Baptiste)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
11 Blackburn Rovers 34 11 12 11 43 44 45 -1
17 Bolton Wanderers 34 11 7 16 42 53 40 -11

 

At the time of writing, Millwall find themselves six points from safety and in need of a minor miracle to avoid the relegation into League One. Things started so brightly for Ian Holloway, as only one defeat from their first five games saw brief mentions of another unlikely promotion for the manager. However, things have started to fall to pieces, especially with the recent run of one win in six. Holloway has experienced strikers Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Ricardo Fuller at hand to try and save their Championship status, while their just-as-experienced backbone including Jos Hooiveld, Alan Dunne and Irish-international keeper David Forde could hold the key to staying up. Though their best chance of success has to be Martyn Woolford. The all-round midfielder can score and create goals and, if the Lions do go down, Woolford may not go with them. Taking all this into thought, three points have to be expected from this game for the Whites.

One To Watch: Martyn Woolford
Last Season: Bolton Wanderers 3-1 Millwall (Hall, Beckford, Moritz; Easter)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
17 Bolton Wanderers 34 11 7 16 42 53 40 -11
22 Millwall 34 7 10 17 30 53 31 -23

 

Ipswich are promotion contenders and have been mightily impressive under Mick McCarthy. In such a close final portion of the season, the Tractor Boys currently sit in 6th - only three points from automatic promotion and five from top spot. Town have the second best home record this season, behind table-toppers Derby County, and have only conceded 12 goals in their 17 matches at Portman Road. Coming away from anything here would be a great result. Talent is scattered across the park for Ipswich; in defence Christophe Berra and Tyrone Mings have been superb, David McGoldrick controls most matches from midfield, while goal machine Daryl Murphy leads the line and will surely find himself in the Premier League sooner or later.

One To Watch: Daryl Murphy
Last Season: Ipswich Town 1-0 Bolton Wanderers (McGoldrick)

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
6 Ipswich Town 34 17 9 8 54 36 60 18
17 Bolton Wanderers 34 11 7 16 42 53 40 -11

 

The month is rounded off with a 30 minute trip to the DW Stadium to face Wigan. After play-off and FA Cup semi-final defeats last season, much was expected from the Latics this time around. How wrong that would be. The season has been nothing short of disastrous and could yet see Athletic playing their football in League One next season. At the time of writing they are a frightening nine points from safety. Malky Mackay will be hoping their better players like James McClean, James Perch and new recruit Jermaine Pennant fire his side to safety. Dropping down a division could be a difficult place to come back from. All this being said, I'd expect Neil Lennon to be bringing hammers and nails ready for the Wigan coffin, metaphorically speaking of course.

One To Watch: James McClean
Last Season: Wigan Athletic 3-2 Bolton Wanderers (Watson, Powell, McManaman; Danns, Moritz (pen))

Pos Team Pld W D L F A Pts GD
17 Bolton Wanderers 34 11 7 16 42 53 40 -11
23 Wigan Athletic 34 6 10 18 31 47 28 -16

 

There are some very different agendas for our opponents this month. Only one with real ambition of promotion, thrown in with a couple of derbies. A positive month is very achievable with these fixtures, and an aim of 10 points would be a solid return.

Football betting site Betway

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
20 AFC Wimbledon 4 1
21 Accrington Stanley 3 1
22 Southend United 4 0
23 Bolton Wanderers 3 -11
24 Bury 0 -12
View Full Standings >>

Poll

Who is Bolton's 2018/19 Player of the Year?
34.62% Gary O'Neil
19.38% David Wheater
18.92% Pawel Olkowski
9.27% Joe Williams
5.33% Jason Lowe
4.13% Sammy Ameobi
2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone