Pre season favourites face off playing catch up
Two of League Two’s misfits go head-to-head on Friday evening with under pressure Trotters boss Ian Evatt welcoming the visit of newly appointed Salford City gaffer Richie Wellens. Wellens led Swindon Town to the League Two title last term and the high profile ownership group will be expecting him to replicate that success, after sacking Graham Alexander despite the former Scunthorpe United manager maintaining an unbeaten record in 2020/21. Both teams need a positive outcome in this fixture, sitting a way off the top six, to which they were both heavily tipped to finish before the campaign. Evatt is running out of time if he cannot turn Bolton’s form around.
Start to the season
Once lauded as title favourites, Bolton have taken 11 points from as many games to begin this campaign, two wins, four draws and five defeats is really not good enough for the biggest club in the division. There is a losing mentality that has deeper roots than many experts anticipated, caused by back to back relegations and a 2019/20 that simply could not get off the ground due to a heavy points deduction and cruel off the pitch battles, leaving the club who spent 11 consecutive seasons in the Premier League, concluding in 2012, in the fourth tier for the first time since 1988.
Evatt joined in the summer from newly promoted Barrow, enhancing his reputation for earning promotion from the National League, playing a brand of football that was very easy on the eye, leading to the nickname ‘Barrowcelona’.
Under the interim stewardship of Paul Scholes the Ammies lost two league games, ending the unbeaten run and seeing them fall away from the playoff picture. Going into Wellens’ first match in League Two with the club, they sit three points of the top six with a healthy goal difference, his position will be scrutinised as ever until they return to the race for promotion.
- Bolton have scored in six of their last seven.
- Bolton have conceded in six of their last seven.
- Both teams have scored in five of Bolton’s last seven and seven of their last 10.
- Salford have scored in eight of their last nine.
- Salford have conceded just six goals in their last 11 games.
- Bolton are 20th compared to Salford in 10th.
- In the expected goals table, Bolton sit 21st compared to Salford in sixth.
For the hosts Alistair Crawford has been chief creator, assisting four of their nine goals so far, almost half. Antoni Sarcevic and Nathan Delfouneso have been crucial in getting on the end of those chances, equating to two thirds of the Trotters’ league goals both owning three goal tallies.
Defensively solid Salford have summer signing Jordan Turnbull to thank, the centre back joined from 2019/20 League Two playoff winners Northampton Town is a warrior and a player who could play higher than the fourth tier. Ibou Touray has also been impressive, following on from a strong 2019/20, the Gambia international has found his home in Salford after playing youth football at Everton. Former Manchester United man James Wilson is the visitors’ in form attacker, making up for Ian Henderson’s loss of form, the 35-year-old’s goal drought has stretched to nine games.