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The Fallen Wanderers

Started on 28 January 2019 by Belgrade Wanderer
Latest Reply on 6 February 2019 by mgriffin2012
Yeah, yeah, I know what you think. Another Championship story, bringing the fallen team back to the top blah blah. Well, at least I'll try to spice things up a bit.

I've been playing FM franchise since 2004 and, coincidentally, that's the year I started supporting Bolton. And in all those years up until this point, I've had some amazing saves. Bringing Corby Town from the Conference North to the Champions League in only 8 seasons, conquering Europe with AEL Limassol, getting lost in Zanzibar managing Mwenge FC and even having a multiplayer game on FM 2012 with my best friend managing two clubs from Martinique. But somehow, I always struggled with the club I love the most. No matter what I try, I'd fail miserably at the end. It's kinda like I have a weird curse of not being able to perform on Fm with Bolton Wanderers even though I did it many times with much weaker teams. Time to change that! And boy oh boy, it's gonna be a struggle.

BWFC are looking to start the new season after miraculously staying up on their first try courtesy to Aaron Wilbraham's late goal deep into the very last game of the 2017/18 season against Nottm Forest. Yeah, staying up on your first try is usually hard, but the infamous "second season struggle syndrome" is bringing this challenge on a whole another level.

Looking at my squad, one thing we definitely do not lack is experience. We've got ten 30+ age players, and around the same amount of those who are knocking on the door. Very few talented youngsters, and of course, no money at all. So what I'm planning to do is to put all my effort into coaching these guys, creating a good atmosphere, keep the spirits high and hope for the best. Or the miracle. Whatever.

"Dear Lord, help me not to play at Shrewsbury next season again"

Alright, we have no money and can only rely on loans (like anyone would like to come here) I'm not gonna diss any player. All of them are going to get the chance to show what they've got. This is my squad atm:

Doesn't look that bad if you look at the assistant's ratings, but that guy doesn't know much, so...yeah.
And these are the tactics I'm looking to use:

It has worked for me before so I'm quite confident this squad will fit in fine. I've got only one major concern, and that's the front man role. We've got three strikers, and all three of them are basically TMs. I'm used to play with either an AF or a Poacher, occasionally switching to Pressing Forward. So this could pose a problem, but I'll handle that in due time.

My idea is to stick with Beevs and Wheatz in the CB roles. They had great two seasons in L1 and CH, their cohesion and mutual understanding is excellent so it's only natural to pick them. We've got Wilson and Hobbs as well as young Max Broughton who looks like a great prospect:

Olkowski is a great full-back at this level, and I can't complain about Mark Little, too. Our pair of left backs are definitely the weakest part in the squad and I'll probably look to drop them a little bit deeper so they could concentrate on the defence.

Going through the middle, we have Josh Vela as a top choice for BBM position, he's Bolton through and through and I'm gonna hang onto and build my midfield around him. Jason Lowe will probably watch his back at BWM role, while I'm not too confident about having O'Neil and Murphy there, especially the first one as I don't think he'll fit in these roles. Ameobi will definitely be the biggest threat cutting inside from the wings, and the only real option for that No. 10 role is Oztumer so we'll need to kip him fit and healthy. Guys like Buckley, Dyer, Doidge, Wildschut...are just not good enough at this level IMO but I'll let them prove me wrong. Hopefully.

I'm gonna finish this introduction post with my July fixtures. We are going to build our fitness level up playing against 5 opponents during the training camp and then head back home to test ourselves against Bohemians and Anwerpen before opening the season at West Brom.


In the next post:

Short-term and long-term plans:
Pre-season games
Training camp reports
Fantastic start mate! Really looking forward to this considering how much Bolton are struggling with their owner this season as well as on the pitch.

However, Josh Vela is a great talent and it’s a good decision to build your squad around him.

JULY 2018

One of the first things I tried to do is find a solution for my problem up front. And the solution was...there is no solution! At least not when you're broke and miserable. Nevertheless, I decided to give young Eddie Brown a chance to see if he could offer us anything at this stage of his career:

And as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures:

So, we're off to training camp.

Meanwhile, % of transfers I could actually used dropped even more, now to only 35%. We already had no money, but could spend about 250-300k of our wage budget, so I sent a couple of offers and all we can now do is wait. And celebrate as two aged and barely useful players were on their last 6 months of contract, so we were 6 months away from additional 600k in our wage budget. Well, suddenly I'm looking forward to January transfer loan window.

Enough chit-chat. Time to play our first game and it's Scunthorpe Utd. I decided to put my preferable line-up and see how'll they do and what I could hope for in the future. So, it's:

GK: Alnwick
DR: Olkowski
DL: Taylor
DC: Beevers
DC: Wheater (c)
DM: Lowe
MC: Vela
AMC: Oztumer
AMR: Noone
AML: Ameobi
ST: Bent

We started off nicely in the first 20 mins or so, with Vela under the spotlight for creating two great chances for Bent and Oztumer and also having a fantastic shot denied by their keeper. And just when it seemed our pressure wouldn't pay off, Oztumer took a corner kick and found Craig Noone who netted the ball with a bit of help from their defender. 1-0 to The Whites. Only 4 mins later, same players - different roles. A clever assist by Noone and a strong finish by Erhun Oztumer. We were flying high. George Thomas pulled one back for Utd before half-time, but a very good half overall.
No changes at HT but they were soon forced as Scunthorpe equalised from a 25-yards free kick. Brown and Buckley replaced Bent and Ameobi who really didn't do much and I was eager to see what we could do with some extra pace up front. But at the 66th minute the turnaround was complete, Thomas crossed the ball and Colclough brilliantly turned our defence like a fidget spinner and it was 3-2. Damn.
I subbed both my full-backs in order to freshen up the wings but it didn't do much. Eddie had a chance but couldn't go past the keeper and Vela had a good shot saved in the dying minutes before they scored again after a terrible mistake by Alnwick. FT 4-2. Let's take some positives, our midfield looked really good and 2 out of 4 goals we conceded were a bit unlucky. On to the next one.

On the very next day, we made our first signing, brining Diangana on a loan from West Ham.

2nd game of the pre-season, another L1 team, Peterborough United. Ireland and Williams were in for Oztumer and Vela.
And about 8 minutes into the game it became painfully obvious that Darren Bent just won't do. We really needed a striker who could bring something to the way we play but he was just past his best and only looking how to tap the ball. It was his terrible pass that opened their counter-attack and we were 1-0 down before the 10-minute mark. Bent made up for his error though, beating the keeper at near post after a great run and cross by Olkowski down the right flank. A minute later we were 2-1 down after another poor judgment by Ben Alnwick. Both Williams and Taylor missed some sitters and Noone had his free kick denied by the post. HT 2-1.
Brown for Bent and off we go. Another terrible, terrible mistake from Alnwick who gives away a free kick. What is going on with this guy? 12 minutes into the half, Williams gets his hands on the ball after a corner and blasts it into the net, 2-2! Brilliant stuff. We try to spice things up with Diangana on the right while Noone switches flank but not before they score their third after a lucky deflection off Beevers. Ireland had his shot denied by the post and Noone missed an easy chance. FT 3-2. 7 goals conceded in two games, yet 4 of them were extremely unlucky and we had a lot of possession at our feet. Oh, well.

3rd game and pretty much the whole line-up had to change. Vela and Oz were back, while Matthews, Hobbs, Grounds, Wilson, Little, Murphy, Buckley, Diangana and Donaldson made their first starts of the season.
But our lack of luck continued, we were 2-0 down after 25 mins and both goals were just ridiculous. Diangana pulled one back before the HT in a poor half overall. We had 64% poss but a real lack of effort in the final third. Poor marking from Wilson gave MK Dons a third goal before Donaldson flicked the ball towards Diangana who brilliantly served it to Oztumer, 3-2. Great attack, the stuff I really want to see. It kept going and 10 mins before the whistle Little crossed the ball from deep and Donaldson was the man to roll it into the net. Great stuff again and a well-deserved draw.

It was obvious from these games that we create a lot, but concede a lot as well. It's just the way I like to play. The defence needs the time to get sorted and it's one of the reasons why this is gonna be a tough season. It's an absolute key to the whole story. If we can stay up, it can only go better from there.

4th game, Bradford City and a huge signing made. Zelalem joined us from Arsenal on a season-long deal. We needed a creative AM to support Oztumer and I don't think we had any better option out there. This kid is good.

Now, I've decided to make three changes. First, Alnwick was benched for his horrendous errors in the previous games. Second, I put Williams on a DMC position as I felt he could pose a threat when lurking outside their area. And third, I pushed Grounds a little bit further up the pitch as the guy can cross the damn ball.
And it all paid off. We had a brilliant 1st half, not allowing them a single shot on goal in the process. Oz scored a stunner after cutting from the right and 20 mins later my man Pawel Olkowski blasted the ball after a fine cross by Grounds. We had some huge, huge chances, but their keeper was excellent. Many reasons for optimism at HT.
Vela picked up a knock so it was a chance for Zelalem to make a debut. I switched his role to AP hoping that he and Oz could create something up there, but 2 mins later we gave a stupid goal after a bad mistake by Matthews. Do I need a GK now?? We didn't lose our grip and kept attacking and it paid off when Noone cut inside, played the ball outside the box to Zelalem who placed it in the opposite corner. Brilliant way to introduce yourself! Game, set and match and we won our first game.

As most players were pretty tired, I was pissed off I couldn't cancel that last game against Sunderland, which came only two days after the match against Bradford. Nevertheless, I let my assistent go through it and we drew 2-2, with Bent and Ameobi on the scoresheet. As Bent got an assist as well (and it was his second one, along with two goals he scored in total) I actually thought about keeping him a little longer, but he broke his foot and got himself out for 5 months so that story was over.

That's it for the training camp. Here are some of my conclusions:

+ we are a lot more dangerous with Williams in the team but Lowe brings us aggresion and is good for last 25-30 mins in games we are winning
+ Diangana and Noone are our best wingers, with Ameobi coming off the bench
+ Oztumer is by far the best player we have

- both our GK had a shit phase 1 of pre-season
- our strikers are shit

So, three positives and two negatives. Not too bad.


In the next post:

Final two weeks of pre-season
Start of the season (both CH and League Cup)
Finalizing the transfers


The story goes on and the season is just about to start. Our training camp went well and I feel confident about the way we stand on the pitch.

Our effort to bring a quality striker came to nothing in the end. We were close on making a loan deal for Lukas Moult but Preston pulled out at the very end and decided to keep him. One of the options was Washington from Sheff Utd while the rest of available strikers were just not fitting to our style. So we kept going and finished our pre-season with two home games, against Bohemians 1905 and Antwerpen. Midfield three Williams-Vela-Oztumer did wonders and we smashed the Czech side 3-0. I gave Chris Doidge a run and he did score a goal but his overall effort wasn't that impressive. Nevertheless, a great win.

Pretty much the same happened against Antwerpen, although we did let two goals in. Alnwick is definitely not ready for the season so Matthews will be our 1st choice for the first couple of games. Donaldson was up front and he didn't disappoint me, a goal and an assist, with some good plays in the final third.

So, the line-up looked pretty clear. But only for a while. Terrible news broke in just three days before the opening game at Howthorns. Beevers broke his leg at training and he was basically out for the season. He could return in early March, but I doubt I will rush him at that point. Devastating.

As we already have Wheater, Hobbs and Wilson, with young Broughton as a cover, I decided not to bring anyone in. We'll see how it goes. And some excellent news just made my day just before the season kicks off. I managed to terminate Wildschut's loan as the guy is not that good and we were paying 570k per annum in order to bring someone better and cheaper. So we loaned Barkhuizen from Preston aaaaaand that's not all. Josh Vela signed a new contract!

It wasn't hard to accept his terms, he is the present and the future of Bolton Wanderers and I've no intention of letting him go no matter what, even though we could surely get at least 5-6 million for him and solve a lot of running problems. Bookies now that as well so we were 2nd favourites to go down. Not without a fight!


MATCH DAY! So, the day has come. West Brom away. No.2 favorites to go up, an excellent team. Hobbs took the CB spot alongside Wheater, while Noone went to the left flank in order for Diangana to stay on the right. Taylor started on the LB as I already had 5 loan players in the match squad so there was no place for Grounds:

3' - first chance for Wanderers, it was a great pinpoint pass by Noone and Oztumer had his shot saved by Johnstone.

8' - great shot by Josh Vela from 20 yards but Johnstone was on task again.

10' - another terrific save by West Brom keeper! Diangana came through after a great pass by Oztumer, he was 1on1 but couldn't beat the former Man Utd trainee.

16' - this is a Sam Johnstone show! He saved another effort by Josh Vela and Bolton's midfielder then had his second shot deflected for a corner. Bolton are pilling on the pressure!

34' - AGAIN the brilliant Johnstone! It was Olkowski this time, trying from the edge of the box with his weaker foot.

36' - nice round of play on the left flank by Taylor and Noone resulted in a long-range shot by Olkowski, but it came to nothing.

38' - GOAL, 1-0 WANDERERS! Donaldson claimed the ball after a deflection and blasted it away from 12 yards. Bolton are finally in front!

41' - West Brom are looking clueless, having their first shot on target comfortably saved by Remi Matthews.

45+2' - What a chance for Diangana! Great effort from Sam Johnstone but the young winger had a second chance and skied the ball! Huge miss.


50' - Goal West Brom, 1-1. Adarabioyo was left alone on the far post and managed to head the ball into the bottom left corner.

51' - Almost an immediate response by Wanderers as Diangana tackled Brunt and left Oztumer with a clear path to score but the midfielder missed everything! Just 20 seconds later, Rodriguez had a 1on1 chance with Matthews but Bolton keeper saved the day!

52' - What a chance for Dwight Gayle! Gibbs' effort was deflected by Matthews and Gayle had all the time in the world to score but Bolton keeper was on the right place. It's all West Brom at the moment.

54' - Diangana again! Another brilliant chance for West Ham's loanee but he just can't beat Sam Johnstone today.

59' - GOOOAAAAAL BOLTON, IT'S 2-1 FOR THE VISITORS! Craig Noone got the things going with his dribbling, drilled the ball to Diangana who crossed it in a quick fashion and Noone was there to convert it! Great work and Bolton are ahead once again!

64' - Little and Magennis are in for Olkowski and Donaldson.

65' - Tyrone Mears got himself in the opposition box but his shot was easily saved by Matthews.

72' - Zelalem comes in for Oztumer.

85' - Sam Johnstone one more time! And it was Josh Vela once again with a terrific long-range shot, but with no success.


WHAT.A.WIN. Very similar to what happened in real life when Bolton won the game at Hawthorns. I though we were outstanding, Vela bossed the game along with Noone and Donaldson had a huge impact on the game, not only because of the goal. A huge win and a massive confidence boost for us!


Terrific way to start the season, but let's not get carried away. Bristol City at home next weekend, they lost their opening fixture against Forest so they really need to bounce back and get a result. The last thing we need is another injury, but that is exactly what happened. Hobbs has suffered a twisted ankle and he'll be out until October. It's all up to Wheater and Wilson, it seems.

In the dying minutes of transfer period, I tried to offload O'Neil and Dyer 6 months before their contracts run out, but with success. However, Rotherham made an offer for our left-back Andy Taylor, and after a lot of thinking, I decided to let him go. Grounds is definitely a better option, and we have a young Joe Muscatt to cover if necessary. We got a decent fee for a 32-yo guy and now have 350k extra in our wage budget. Nice.

Our complete wage exp. is now under 13 million, with only Rotherham, Millwall and Preston spending less.


Matchday 2 - Bristol City (h)

As City are playing classic 4-4-2 formation with trying to put a lot of crosses in, I've decided to drop my full-backs a bit deeper, with everything else the same as at Hawthorns. With Wilson replacing the injured Hobbs, of course. So, it's:

Matthews - Olkowski, Grounds, Wheater, Wilson - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Noone, Oztumer - Donaldson

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Muscatt, Lowe, Barkhuizen, Ameobi, Magennis

1' - great start and a fantastic shot by Vela, but the ball went just wide

5' - penalty Bristol City. Grounds pushed Paterson who was waiting for the cross.

6' - 1:0 City, Taylor.

15' - Huge chance for Donaldson and a huge miss after a terrific cross by Olkowski.

33' - 2:0 City, Weimann. O'Dowda headed the ball on the far post towards Weimann who had an easy job.

42' - Brilliant clearance by Pack on the line after a header by Wheater. So close!


47' - Another great block, this time by Weimann who denies Craig Noone's effort.

51' - Good header by Donaldson, but no goal for the home team yet.

61' - No time to waste, Bolton are bringing Barkhuizen on for Joe Williams. It's 4-2-4 now on the pitch for the hosts.

64' - Kalas connects Weimann with the ball and the Austrian has a clear-cut chance, but Matthews keeps Wanderers in play.

66' - GOAL, DIANGANA! Bolton grab one goal back courtesy to 2nd effort by the young winger. The initial effort was denied by Maenpaa, but there was nothing he could've done to save the next one. 25 minutes for Wanderers to get an equalizer.

70' - After a poor performance, Oztumer is coming off for Ameobi. Meanwhile, Little replaces Olkowski.

78' - Brilliant chance for Barkhuizen, but Preston loanee blasts the ball over the net!

86' - Da Silva hit the bar! City were close to their 3rd here...

90+2' - What a save by Maenpaa! Ameobi hit the ball with no mercy but the visitors' keeper kept them in the lead.



Disappointing result at the end, I felt like we deserved a point, but that's football. League cup next, we've got an easy draw in Mansfield at home, but I don't really want us to waste much time on this competition. So our 1st team players got some quality rest, and we lined-up like this:

Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wilson, Broughton - Lowe, Zelalem - Barkhuizen, Ameobi, Ireland - Doidge

Zelalem scored a beauty to give us the lead but Mansfield got an equalizer in a bad, bad moment. I feared the worst but Joe Muscatt scored on his professional debut just before the HT whistle and it made the things much easier. Doidge scored just after one-hour mark to give us a two-goal lead and that was pretty much it. Good win and we rested all our key players.


Reading away next, they lost their first two games, both 3-0 and I was really looking forward to this tie. A point on the road would be great. But before that, an interesting signing was made. My scouts recommended me this midfielder:

He's fairly young and looks like a perfect solution for DM role. We already have Williams and Lowe there, but Williams is on loan from Everton and we're clearly not gonna keep him as he's a top PL prospect, so...who knows. Let's see after the trial.

P.S. We got Yeovil at home in the LC. Nice chance for us to go even further.


Matchday 3: Reading (a)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Grounds, Wheater, Wilson - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Noone, Oztumer - Doidge

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Muscatt, Lowe, Buckley, Ameobi, Donaldson

A scrappy start for both teams, no real action in the first 20 or so. Doidge missed a sitter though, but that was just about it. They took the game to us at that point, Matthews had to intervene couple of times while we couldn't get a grip up front. Boedvarsson hit the bar before Doidge almost hit them on the break. We survived the half, 0-0. How the hell are we gonna get something out of this one? I brought Donaldson on for Doidge in hope of linking more balls to our AM three. But we just couldn't take the ball from our back third properly. On the one-hour mark, they scored after a corner. Tiago Ilori. I subbed Ameobi in for Williams and moved Noone inside on a shadow striker role, but to no avail. Oztumer did have his shot denied by the post, but that was just about it. We lost in a very poor performance.


Huge game against Birmingham at home and we can't really afford to lose this one. Three defeats in a row would just kill the dressing room and start a terrible run. So I've decided to put Zelalem and Vela together and go with Doidge from the start. Grounds was ineligible to play as he's on loan from Birmingham.

Matchday 4: Birmingham City (h)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Muscatt, Wilson, Wheater - Zelalem, Vela - Barkhuizen, Noone, Oztumer - Doidge

After an uneven first 15 minutes in which Doidge had his shot barely saved and Zelalem hit the post from 30 yards, the situation calmed itself and it was 0-0 at HT. A bit disappointed as I felt we edged the first 15-20 minutes and should have been in front. However, the match went on and Craig Noone had to be subbed due to injury, so Ameobi was in after 53 minutes of play. But the game was dead with both teams looking like they would be happy with the draw (I know I would), so I tried refreshing the team with bringing Little in for Olkowski and Donaldson up front for Doidge. And it almost brought us the result in the dying minutes as Oztumer put up a brilliant assist for Donaldson, but Craig Gardner saved the day with a perfect late tackle. Full time, 0-0. A decent draw and we should be happy with 4 points from the opening 4 games. 1 point per game ratio is what we are looking for, more or less.


Unfortunately, every good news have to come with at least one bad. Both Ameobi and Noone got injured, with Noone being out for 3 months while Ameobi is set to spend 4-5 weeks on the sidelines. More time for Barkhuizen and Buckley, I guess.
Also, Joe Muscatt had a storming performance, so the kid is going to get rewarded with a start against Sheff Utd.

Before the game against the Blades, another injury. This time Will Buckley, who will be sadly missed for 2-3 weeks. Not too bad, but we now have 3 wingers out so I'm thinking about changing our formation a bit.

Matchday 5: Sheffield United (h)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Muscatt, Wilson, Wheater - Zelalem, Vela - Diangana, Dyer, Oztumer - Donaldson

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Barkhuizen, Williams, Lowe, Ireland, Magennis

Weird to see Lloyd Dyer in the starting 11 but that's how it is when you have so many injuries. And while we didn't play bad in the opening 15 minutes, they broke the deadlock when Ben Woodburn beat the offside trap and easily placed the ball behind Matthews. So easy. Wheater then went close with a diving header before Diangana unexpectedly scored after a good cross by Oztumer! 1-1, the game is on. This turned into an even game very quickly and then...we got a free kick 18 yards from the goal. Oztumer takes it...and it's a brilliant goal! 2-1, we're in the lead just before the HT whistle! I was only fearing the complacency...4 minutes left, surely we won't concede? Of course we did. Sharp beat Muscatt somehow and passed it to Lundstram who placed it into the far corner. 2-2 at a worst.damn.possible.time.
How are we gonna survive this? Surely with some strength in the middle. I bring Williams and Magennis in after 10 mins, and the two of them create a chance for Diangana to score his second. He cuts inside and....3-2! Get in lad, a fantasic night for him! Little is coming in for young Muscatt and we need to hang onto this result. Last 20 minutes. Sharp doing the same pinpoint pass for Woodburn as in the 1st half, he beats Wheater, he's 1on1 with Matthews...who saves the shot! But not the 2nd one...3-3. It's gonna be long 15 minutes or so. Two goals by Diangana and two assists for Oztumer. But they need to concentrate on the defence now. 7 minutes to go, Egan with a diving header....saved somehow by Matthews. Olkowski now tries to break down the right flank, puts in a brilliant cross...dealt by Egan, but Williams on the rebound...what a save by Henderson, Diangana goes for his hattrick aaaaaaaaaaaand he hits the post. Damn. 4 mins of stoppage time. Poor corner by Oztumer and they could break here, but Olkowski clears the ball away before Magennis concedes the foul. We take our time, and soon it's a FT whistle. Whew. We survived but it's a well-deserved point.


Only one game left in August as we lie 18th on the table. Yeovil home, 2nd round of the League cup. A nice run-out for the lads, I wouldn't mind going out at this stage but it wouldn't be so good to get knocked out by a L2 side. So off we go:

League Cup, 2nd round: Yeovil (h)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wilson, Broughton - Lowe, Zelalem - Dyer, Barkhuizen, Ireland - Doidge

The lads don't really look eager to play this one, and it reflects on the result. 15 mins off the clock, we're 1-0 down thanks to poor set-piece defending. We woke up a bit, but Doidge couldn't score in a brothel. I take out a hairdryer at HT and we finally start playing football. Brilliant work by Zelalem, Muscatt takes the ball, cuts inside and sends it flying to the far corner. Get in, 1-1. Now we need to keep pushing. Dyer looks like he doesn't belong to this sport anymore, so I bring Oztumer in. Magennis comes in a bit later and his header is stopped by the bar. Time is going by, we just can't break through. Barkhuizen tries his luck from a long range, but it goes over. That's it. Thank God there's no extra time, the last thing we need is another 30 minutes of this in a tight schedule. It all goes down to penalties.

Oztumer takes the ball...comfortably. 1-0
Dickinson now for the visitors...saved by Alnwick!
Wilson is our 2nd taker...easy pen. 2-0
Fisher is under a lot of pressure...and he delivers, great pen. 2-1
Ireland now, a goal here would be great...3-1
Tom James for Yeovil...terrible penalty, Alnwick saves it easily, we have a match-point
Barkhuizen to put us through to the 3rd round....down the middle it goes, we are through!


That's it for today, it's end of August, we went through in the League Cup and got a win and two draws in opening 5 games in Championship, making 18th place in the process. September games to come in the next episode, starting Preston away on September 1st.


Welcome to the forum and to story writing! Bolton are a side in real trouble currently, with lots of issues on and off the pitch.

A real mix of things to take from your opening couple of months. The injury to Beevers is a bitter blow, but your business has been shrewd and the contract extension given to Josh Vela is a massive plus. Results wise, solid enough and I'm pretty sure you'd take 18th place at the end of the season. Progression in the Carabao Cup is great to see also, even if you were taken all the way by Yeovil!


So, the story goes on. Last day of the restricted transfer window and no deals on the horizont whatsoever.

Meanwhile, Diangana came close second on the Young player of the month award for August, behind Harry Wilson who scored the same amount of goals (3) but had two more assists on his name.

Our financial report came out as well, and it's not looking good. Our balance for August was pretty bad and it's only going to get worse.


Matchday 6 - Preston North End (a)

Potentially a very important game. I'm quite pleased with our record so far but a good result here could raise our spirits before the match against QPR who currently occupy No. 24 position with only 1 point. PNE are doing a bit better than us with 6 points and Alex Neil seems to prefer similar style of play to mine. Should be a good game and I really hope we can get a point here.

Three injured wingers and Barkhuizen unavailable being a Preston player means Dyer is the only real option there except Diangana. So I decided to play with two up front, Doidge being a wide TM.

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Muscatt, Wilson, Wheater - Zelalem, Vela - Diangana, Oztumer, Doidge - Donaldson

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Grounds, Lowe, Ireland, Dyer, Magennis

Sloppy start by our team gave Preston a couple of half-chances to put is in danger. Matthews had to intervene twice, both times due to long-range shots. Joe Muscatt responded in a same fashion 27 minutes off the clock. No result. Preston now have their 2nd corner in a row, Narsingh puts it in...and it's 1-0. Not sure who's the scorer, lots of white jerseys in there...unacceptable. We need to improve. Muscatt looks like the most eager player out there but he's all alone on the left flank. Diangana puts a brilliant ball through to Oztumer, but the latter misses. A wasted chance, one of not too many. Now a corner for, Diangana plays another quick pass to Vela who turns and shoots...just over! This is looking better. HT at Deepdale and we haven't had a single shot on target. Things have to improve if we want to get something out of this. Doidge is off, Oztumer goes left and Ireland will now occupy the number 10 role.
We're back on and things are improving. Vela and Zelalem are bossing the midfield but we can't seem to find the decisive pass. Donaldson is having a bad game so Magennis is on, 35 minutes left. Another brilliant tackle by Zelalem, Vela puts Oztumer in action and the latter plays a brilliant ball through to Diangana. A lot of space here to cover, he cuts inside, puts a cross in...and it's OZtumer to finish the action!! 1-1, a brilliant play by Bolton. Preston are looking for quick response, but it's not gonna happen this time as Olkowski brilliantly takes the ball away and sends it flying towards Magennis. The big man keeps the ball for a bit and then makes his assist to Diangana, this looks promising! He switches flanks and Muscatt crosses the ball but it is cleared away and now the hosts have a break. Nmecha gets the ball, runs past Wheater...and it's 2-1. Too easy. Grounds is in for Muscatt but the spirits are low now. Worst time to concede. Another good run by Nmecha, a low cross...and it's an own goal by Wilson. Terrible intervention. Game, set and match. 20 minutes to go but this game is over. A bad defeat on the day, but well-deserved.


International break is on and I've decided to sign Louis Samson who was on trial. He played both games against Burnley U23 and was one of the best on the pitch, and as his wage demands are reasonable, there's no reason not to sign him at this stage. He'll take Williams' place and if things go the right way, we will cut Williams' loan deal in January.

QPR game to come after the break, I wouldn't say it's a must-win, but anything else will put us on a 6-games winless run and with a trip to Riverside coming next, it could prolong even more. We will definitely switch back to 4-1-1-3-1 with Williams or Samson dropping on DM and Vela staying on CM as a BBM.

We played a single friendly against AFC Liverpool in order to keep the boys fresh and maybe raise morale a bit, and it happened. We beat them 3-0 with Donaldson scoring a brace.

Good news came in, both Hobbs and Ameobi were back in training and expected to play against QPR.


Matchday 7: Queen's Park Rangers (h)

Alright then, Barkhuizen will play on the left wing today and Samson will make his debut. Meanwhile, Grounds returns for Muscatt.

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Grounds, Wilson, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Oztumer, Barkhuizen - Donaldson

Subs: Alnwick, Muscatt, Little, Lowe, Buckley, Zelalem, Magennis

6 minutes off the clock and we have our first chance. Vela invites Olkowski to attack and the Pole crosses the ball in the middle, Diangana chips it towards Oztumer who shoots straight, but with no success. Corner QPR soon, but Hemed can't control the ball and Oztumer launches the counter. Brilliant through ball to Diangana who shoots, the ball bounces off a defender...but it's cleared off the line! QPR were lucky here. We can't seem to put the pressure and the game has staled. 10 minutes until the HT whistle, Donaldson got the ball and he blasts it with no mercy, but it was easily dealt with. Half time.
No changes here, we need to be quicker in the final third and it just won't do with Donaldson there, but I've really got no real choice. Or do I...? Barkhuizen is going up there while Donaldson is off for Zelalem. Let's see what can we do with two playmakers out there.
2nd half coming on, we have an early throw-in. Grounds sees Vela all alone in the middle, Josh receives the ball, he tries his luck...ohhhh what a beauty! An absolute stunner by Josh Vela, get in there! 40 seconds in the 2nd half and we are up! No time to waste here, let's kick them while they're down. Oztumer plays a nice ball in and Zelalem has some space...but his shot goes wide. Things are looking good, though! QPR trying to create something but they've got no creativity up front and a brilliant tackle by Vela opens up the space for us to break through. Diangana looks to put the ball into space for Barkhuizen and he manages to cross it towards Oztumer....but his shot was blocked! Nevermind, a good play here and this is why we need a pacey striker in the team. 25 minutes to go and Lowe is coming in for booked Samson. And he immediately makes an impact, taking the ball from Eze. Vela has the ball and switches it to the left flank, a cross by Grounds...and a diving header by Barkhuizen goes just over! Mark Little coming in for Olkowski with 10 minutes to go. Wheater comes high to claim the ball but Lowe makes a mistake and now QPR have a break. Freeman has a clear path...and he puts it just wide. Whew, that was close. A warning sign, this is not over. Josh Vela continues to impress as he stops another attack to launch our own, he even tries his luck again from 30 yards...and it's just over! What a game by our midfielder. FT whistle is there, we won this one. A huge relief.


Riverside stadium next. Boro have one of the best squads in the league but they haven't been performing well so far as they are dead last with only 4 points. I still consider them strong favorites here though and look forward to put some pace up front as we'll need it. So Barkhuizen will start as a ST with Diangana, Oztumer and Buckley behind him. Saville, Downing, Braithwaite, Tavernier and McQueen are all out for the hosts due to injuries.


Matchday 8: Middlesbrough (a)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Grounds, Wilson, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Oztumer, Buckley - Barkhuizen

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Muscatt, Lowe, Ameobi, Zelalem, Donaldson

Slow 10 minutes on Riverside and neither team look very strong out there. Wilson gives away a foul, Howson steps in....1-0 Boro. A very stupid way to concede. Pulis doing his job here...nothing to report for 20 boring minutes...this is gonna be a hard one. We've got a corner at least. Oztumer puts it in...and YEEEEEEEEES! Diangana again, oh you beautiful little man! It's 1-1 and we are back on track. Howson the only one playing for Boro this afternoon really. He dispossesses Vela on the middle and puts the ball in Assambalonga's feet, who then gets it through to Hugill, but Bolton are lucky as the ball goes wide. Buckley is waving, he can't continue...Ameobi in and it's HT. I think we can come back home undefeated with a pinch of good luck.
But of course, no luck, Hugill breaks through, shoots, Matthews saves it and the ball bounces off Hugill's knee and goes into the net. Absolutely ridiculous. Now Wilson hits the bar from a free-kick and Oztumer misses the empty goal. This is definitely not our night. Little is coming in, and a bit later we bring Donaldson there for Samson so it's 4-2-4 again. No result, Assambalonga beats the offside trap, his effort is stopped by the post but Gestede is there and it's 3-1. All done, and I'm pissed off for the first time this season.


Two games to go in September, with League Cup tie against Fulham to come in between. Ipswich away next, unlike their real life counterparts they are actually doing great and are 5th in the league with 15 points from 8 games. A hard task and we'll need to improve A LOT in order to gain anything.

Nothing changes except for Ameobi coming in for injured Buckley.


Matchday 9: Ipswich Town (a)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Grounds, Wilson, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Oztumer, Ameobi - Barkhuizen

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Muscatt, Lowe, Buckley, Zelalem, Donaldson

Bad start to the game, a sloppy tackle by Wilson and Graham has an easy chance...1-0. Pathetic defending. Our morale seems to be very low at the moment and it's gonna get harder and harder. Nothing going the right way for us and very quickly, it's half time. Ameobi is off, very poor performance yet again, Zelalem is in and we go for 4-4-2 diamond. Olkowski takes the ball and Oztumer makes it through to Barkhuizen who's got 1 on 1....Bialkowski saves it. And in the very next attack, they score. Game over surely, we are absolutely shambles at the moment. 15 minutes to go, corner to them...3-0. Disastrous. Diangana then scores a consolation goal but no reason to celebrate really, The worst performance of the season.


Straight defeats on the road and we desperately needs to bounce back. Fulham home at LC next. They're struggling to stay up in the PL so surely Jokanovic will put a weakened team out there? One can only hope...

However, Derby County at the UniBol next in the league is our top priority, so Wheater, Vela, Oztumer and Olkowski are going to get some rest.


League Cup, 3rd round: Fulham (h)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wilson, Hobbs - Samson, Williams - Diangana, Ameobi, Zelalem - Donaldson

Subs: Matthews, Grounds, Olkowski, Lowe, Barkhuizen, Buckley, Oztumer

All Fulham in the opening minutes as they put their strongest 11 out there. We got the corner nevertheless and Little strikes it with power but Bettinelli keeps Fulham's net intact. Sessegnon clears the ball and Christie and Mitrovic break through but can't get past Ben Alnwick. Corner in the last seconds of the 1st half for us and Samson heads it just wide. No luck, 0-0 HT.
Barkhuizen in for exhausted Diangana as we look to get something out of this game. An early corner is put through by Zelalem, good flick by Samson and it's Ameobi on the far post!!! 1-0 Wanderers, straight out of nowhere! We don't seem to stop, Little makes a good play on the right flank with Barkhuizen who crosses the ball, it takes a little deflection and comes to Donaldson who has an easy tap-in. 2-0! How on Earth has this happened?! 6 minutes into the 2nd half and we are two goals up. Can we do this?
Mitrovic seems to cause a lot of problems out there, as expected. Alnwick is on the right place to deny his effort but 5 minutes later he was left all alone after a beautiful pass by Vietto. 25 minutes to go, they grab one back. Oops, sorry, I meant they've equalized. Vietto with a nice chip and it's 2-2. Yep, just like that. We are ready to capitulate. Lowe and Olkowski replace Samson and Little, but they've got a corner...and it's 3-2, Calum Chambers. That's it, we won't get back from this. Thet have a free kick now...and it's 4-2. Just pathetic. Joe Williams tries to grab one back, and the ball deflects and get past Bettinelli. There's hope! I order all out attack, it's 6 mins of added time. we are pushing and doing it hard. Olkowski is preparing himself to cross, but the whistle is heard...penalty?! Donaldson was pushed in the box apparently and now we've got the chance to avoid defeat. Or prolong it at least. It's going to be Sammy Ameobi...He scores! 4-4 in an amazing game! It goes down to penalties once again...and this could mean so much to us at this point!

Joe Williams will open the shoot-out.....calmly taken, 1-0!
Vietto for Fulham...he was their best player today...Alnwick saves it!!!
Huge moment for Clayton Donaldson...2-0! Fantastic penalty!
A lot of pressure on Andre Schurrle now...and he grabs one back, 2-1.

Sammi Ameobi, already a goalscorer today...bottles it. Still 2-1.
Chance for Kamara to even the score...but Alnwick denies him!
Marc Wilson with the ball...fantastic penalty! 3-1 Bolton and they are almost through!
Ryan Sessegnon must score here...he hit the post, IT'S OVER, BOLTON ARE THROUGH!


What a phenomenal win that was! Without 4 important players, against their best team and being two goals down 10 minutes to the end...just wow. This could be a huge confidence boost but now we have to try and get a result against Derby.

Interestingly enough, Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham AND Man Utd were eliminated in the same round! Astonishing, and only Tottenham were beaten by a strong side (Chelsea). Not that I think we could win the competition, but our chances of a good draw just became much greater, and with some luck, who knows.

The draw is here and it's 16 teams in the hat. Half of them from PL (Chelsea, Everton, Palace, Burnley, Wolves, Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle), seven from CH (Swansea, Millwall, Sheff Wed, Stoke, Sheff Utd, Norwich and Bolton) and Peterborough from L1. I'd gladly settle for a home tie against Chelsea or Everton or have Peterborough on the road. Although Millwall could do as well.

Not gonna happen though. We're gonna have to do it on a cold rainy night at Stoke...


Matchday 10: Derby County (h)

The time has come, let's do this boys. Lampard's team are far from the top, lying 15th on the table. Alnwick is getting a reward for his penalty saves against both Yeovil and Fulham, Muscatt is staying on the LB position, while Vela and Oztumer are back in the team.

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Olkowski, Muscatt, Wheater, Wilson - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Donaldson

Subs: Hobbs, Grounds, Little, Lowe, Zelalem, Barkhuizen, Buckley

A very entertaining first half on the display. Tom Lawrence had his shot deflected by Wheater before Wilson missed a sitter. On the other side, Diangana had his two consecutive efforts saved by Carson before Josh Vela hit the bar. Tom Huddlestone lost the battle to Joe Williams and now Little finds Diangana on the right side, here comes the low cross....Donaldson is there, 1-0 to The Whites!!!!!!! Josh Vela can't keep his head and Bolton lost possession. Wilson is breaking through, a terrific cross towards Jack Marriott...and it's 1-1. Just like that. Bolton are looking to respond but Ameobi was too weak and it's another great cross for Marriott. 2-1 Derby, deja vu. HT whistle.
Marriott destroyed Wilson in the 1st half so Hobbs is now on for us. Oztumer shoots with power, but it goes over. Ameobi cames off for Zelalem after another dreadful performance, and Little is on as well. Olkowski chips the ball to Donaldson but his header goes wide. Less and less time for us and as we look more clueless, Nugent scores another one. Game over.


Third consecutive loss brings us down to relegation zone on GD. Didn't feel like we deserve to lose that game against Derby but Harriott looked like Alan Shearer against Marc Wilson and that was it. We miss Beevers, badly. Things must improve in October and our performance in the League Cup gives us the necessary boost to get over this crisis we're in.


Next time: November games

Looking forward to seeing what you can conjure up with Bolton, should be an interesting follow and welcome to the site!
The finances were bound to be poor with the devastatingly poor running of Bolton in recent years, but the results so far for you have been an accurate representation of Bolton's season in real life. What will be most interesting is how you deal with this and turn their fortunes around in your favour and push on for perhaps a lower mid-table position?
Some tough results there. It's going to be a case of just picking up points sporadically and hoping it's enough to survive, personally. Congratulations on the victory over Fulham though and progression in the cup!


Here we go's October now and we are on a very bad run. Three straight defeats, four in five games and that put us in relegation zone. We need to bounce back quickly and find the way to turn our luck around. First stop: Brittania Stadium.

Before that, the latest financial update is there. And it's looking as bad as ever.

But yeah, let's took about football.


Matchday 11: Stoke City (a)

The Potters are struggling to find their rhythm as they lye in mid-table with 4 wins and 5 defeats in 10 games. This is the first out of two matches we're gonna play this month, as they will be hosting our League Cup Last 16 round game. No recent injuries or suspensions, so we are putting a strong line-up here:

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wheater, hobbs - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Zelalem, Oztumer - Donaldson

Subs: Wilson, Grounds, Olkowski, Samson, Ameobi, Buckley, Barkhuizen

A strong start for Wanderers here and we have a corner. Oztumer takes it...and Wheater smashes it straight into the crossbar. Lucky deflection, it's another corner. But it comes to nothing. Couple of minutes have passed and Williams tries his luck from distance...but with no success. Stoke unable to make any real chance. Another corner for the visitors...Oztumer takes it...Zelalem is all alone on the far's 1-0 Wanderers! Terrible set piece defending by Stoke and Bolton are in front. Well deserved. Woods makes his effort through the middle, supplying Krkic in the process, but Barcelona's youth prospect can't make it count, and that is it. HT, 0-1
Sam Clucas comes in for Stoke as they desperately need some pace up front. Bolton are holding pretty well but look sloppy in the middle. Now Joe Williams gives away a free kick on the far right. Ince takes it...and Sam Clucas is there to level the score! It's 1-1 and Stoke score in a same fashion as their opponents in the first half. Now Bolton are on the back foot, Woods is bossing the midfield and he creates another chance, this time for Joe Allen, but Alnwick denies his effort. Buckley and Barkhuizen are both in, but Bruno Martins Indi is not letting them breathe. A stunning effort by Joe Allen forces Alnwick to concede a corner. Woods takes it...and Clucas heads it just wide! Stoke were so close there...10 minutes to go, another good pass by Woods opens up the space for Zinchenko, he puts it into the bos...but Krkic's effort is blocked by Wheater and now Bolton can break through. Barkhuizen makes his run down the right flank, cuts inside, it's a nice chip over Huth, Oztumer can shoot...but it goes over! Nothing to see here, it's done, 1-1. Wanderers will be content, it was a dreadful 2nd half for them.


Awards time and Diangana makes it 2nd again on Young player of the Month. Zinchenko was the winner this time, even though he had a bit worse rating than our winger. Oh well.

Blackburn next and it's a huge game for us. Not only a chance to end our winless run, but to beat local rivals and get out of the relegation zone, at least for a while. As we lye 22nd on the table, they have been only a bit worse than us and are sitting at 23rd, so it's a relegation battle derby as well. Wheater is suspended and it's a major loss for us, but we need to pull through it and win this one.


Matchday 12: Blackburn Rovers (h)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Grounds, Hobbs, Wilson - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - DOnaldson

Subs: Matthews, Olkowski, Broughton, Lowe, Buckley, Zelalem, Barkhuizen

It's been dreadful 15 minutes for both sides, but Rothwell seems most capable to make something happens. His pass from outside his own bos finds Bradley Dack who puts it sideways to Palmer, he shoots...Alnwick on the right place, it's a corner. Rovers are starting to wake up, Palmer now puts a brilliant cross in, Mulgrew heads it...and it's cleared off the line by Little! Wanderers very lucky at the moment. They need to survive this and change their approach in the 2nd half. Last chance for Blackburn to grab a goal here, it's Reed with the free kick...and the ball rattles the crossbar and goes out! HT, no goals.
Bolton need a major change here but no subs yet. Their full backs seem to be more attacking-minded, though. Grounds puts a low cross in the box, it's failed to get cleared, and Oztumer is there....wide! Some sloppy defending by Rovers' defence. Palmer making a great run down the left flank again, he cuts inside...tries his luck...handed by Ben Alnwick. Barkhuizen is on and he immediately tries to make a run down the right...but his cross is very poor and it's no good. Bolton look clueless today. But Blackburn have lost their touch as well and nothing is happening here...10 minutes to go, are we on for a decisive moment? Little makes a good run, it's a decent cross...but no one there to make it count. Dack tries to put a long ball there, but Hobbs clears it with ease and that's it. No goals in local derby, 0-0.


So we failed to win this one, and to be honest it was a dull game. We had a good 1st half against Stoke, but nothing good came from this one, except a clean sheet. We haven't had one in a while. The international break is here and we use it to play another friendly, this time against lower-league side Irlam FC. We beat them 3-1, missing handful of chances in the process. Nevertheless, a win is a win and good enough to raise our spirits. I have a team meeting with the lads and everyone seem in a good enough mood. Rotherham away next, they are above us but I am absolutely certain we are favorites to edge this one. We have the better team and it's time to show it.


Matchday 13: Rotherham United (a)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Grounds, Wheater, Wilson - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Donaldson

Subs: Olkowski, Broughton, Muscatt, Samson, Zelalem, Buckley, Barkhuizen

The match has started and Bolton seem eager to score in the opening 15 minutes. Ameobi makes use of his speed, getting past Darikwa in the process and putting a decent enough cross, connecting Donaldson with the ball...but his header goes just wide. More good stuff from Ameobi as he shoots from 25 yards, forcing Rodak to intervene and concede a corner. Oztumer now...good cross, a header from Wilson...and it's denied once again. Good spell of football for Wanderers, but they need to make this count. Vela with a long ball to the left flank, Diangana gets it, cuts inside...looks like a brilliant ball in, Donaldson is there...ohh what a miss! An absolute sitter for Clayton Donaldson, but it's still 0-0. Oztumer gets past Wood in order to cut inside and make a shot...he's stopped, but Little continues the run, crosses the ball, it's Donaldson again...and it's another miss! HT whistle and Bolton will wonder how are they not in front.
Palmer makes his run trying to get things going for Rotherham, he gets past Williams who tackles him from behind...and he's already been booked! It's a red! Bolton are down to ten men and what a stupid move by young Williams! Towell takes the free-kick, connecting Anichebe with the ball...1-0 Rotherham. Unbelievable, they did nothing to get this far, but that's football for you. Muscatt is on now, and Josh Vela is making his move, his shot is blocked by Darikwa but Ameobi is there on the rebound....1-1 Bolton!! A quick response and this is not over yet, 20 minutes or so to go. Donaldson seems to connect the lines now for the visitors, he sets up a chance for Oztumer who knocks his way past Wood, it's a low shot...he hits the post! So unlucky! Ameobi cuts inside to make his pass for Diangana, a beautiful right footed shot....but it goes over the bar! So little time left, Wanderers are looking for a late winner here...oh, it's a bad, bad pass by Little and Rotherham are on the break, Anichebe heads the ball towards Smith, he shoots...ohhh just wide! An exciting finish to the game but it's 1-1 and it's a 3rd consecutive draw for Bolton, who are still in the relegation zone.


A disappointing result at the New York stadium and we're now 6 games without a win. The morale is not too low, especially considering how we lost the last match, but every next game brings that extra bit of pressure as we are looking to end this streak. Forest at home next, they are in the top half, but have a slight decline in form, winning only one out of last four. Samson is back in for suspended Williams and Diangana has a minor injury so he'll be rested. Off we go.

Matchday 14: Nottingham Forest (h)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Olkowski, Grounds, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Barkhuizen, Ameobi, Oztumer - Donaldson

Subs: Matthews, Broughton, Little, Lowe, Buckley, Zelalem, Doidge

Strong start by Forest here as they're threating through Lewis Grabban. Hefele looks strong on the other side as neither Barkhuizen or Oztumer can go past him. Vela tries his luck however...hits the bar! The ball deflects off Pantilimon...and it's in, it's 1-0 Bolton! Very lucky for the hosts but they had it coming. Oztumer dictates the play on the middle, here's a terrific ball for Donaldson...but Hefele is there to make a quick tackle. Now Soudani manages to go past Grounds as Wheater is too far away to intervene, so ex-Dinamo Zagreb captain blasts it...but it goes well wide. HT at UniBol.
Wanderers are in front are looking eager to double their lead, Barkhuizen makes a quick run down the right, holds the play a bit and passes it to Olkowski, here comes the cross...cleared by Dawson, but Vela is there for the shot....ohh, close! A very good effort but it's still 1-0. Now a corner for the visitors, Lolley takes it...and that's an equalizer! It's Hefele, 1-1. Such a disappointing way to concede. Grabban is off for Murphy who makes an instant impact and wins a corner. Lolley to take it, Murphy with the header....saved by Alnwick. Safe hands by Bolton keeper and it's only couple of minutes to go. Oztumer makes a terrific ball through and now Magennis can double their lead...but what a brilliant tackle by Hefele, yet again. Forest looking for their last ditch effort, great cross by Janko but it's cleared by Olkowski and Vela finds Grounds all alone on the left. A mazing run by Bolton left back as he has a clear path. He's one on one with Pantilimon....AND IT'S IN! 2-1 Wanderers and that's surely it. No time for Forest to respond and it's full time. A huge relief at UniBol, their first win in seven matches. Get in!


An amazing win and we really needed that on. It's Hull at home next and a perfect chance to have our 2nd in a row for the 1st time this season as they are on a terrible run of five straight league defeats which puts them below us. We are now out of the relegation zone, making 20th, while they are 22nd. Both Burke and Elphick are injured so their defence looks as shaky as it could get. It's now or never basically, and we're not gonna rest and prepare for the LC game against Stoke. This is our top priority.

Matchday 15: Hull City (h)

Diangana is back in the team and we go for Chris Doidge up front as he scored 4 goals in three games for the U23s. Williams is back and I expect him to recover after that bad dismissal against Rotherham. Muscatt will be on the left-back as this is the game for him, with a lot of freedom to operate at up front.

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wheater, Hobbs - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Doidge

Subs: Wilson, Broughton, Olkowski, Samson, Buckley, Zelalem, Donaldson

Ameobi gets past Kane in order to cross a low ball for Doidge...but he misses, how the hell did he miss that? A huge chance for us to go in front here. Vela looks lovely in the middle today as he makes a through ball to Diangana. A nice flick to the left, a ball over the defence, Ameobi is there to make it count....ohhhhh so close. We're knocking on the door here! It's a corner now, Oztumer takes it, a good header by Hobbs...denied by the post. No one at the rebound so this is over. HT whistle is moments away, Diangana tries to find Doidge with a long one...and he manages it, not the best first touch by Doidge who slips...but kicks the ball in the process...and it goes into the far corner of the net! 1-0 Bolton at the best possible moment! It's half time.
Not much to mention in the 2nd half, both Barkhuizen and Zelalem are now on for Diangana and injured Oztumer. Doidge with a good run, he tries his luck from distance...not a good one. Free kick in dangerous area, Evandro to take it...just wide. A warning sign for Wanderers but Hull don't seem that eager to make things happen. Muscatt makes a great run down the left and he finds Vela with a back could be 2-0 now...ohhh close, but not good enough. 10 minutes to go and it's all Bolton. Another good run by Joe Muscatt and he wants to try his luck now...smashes it in the middle, but Marshall is there to deny him. That's it, FT at the UniBol and it's two in a row for Wanderers!

A solid win puts us in a great position all of a sudden. We were on a 6 games winless streak, but now it's 5 games without a loss and our form is among the best in the league! How things change fast here.... We've condeded only three goals this month, all from set-pieces and that's definitely the area we have to work on. But that will come later. Final game this month is approaching, our 2nd visit to the Brittania, the cold rainy night at Stoke has finally arrived. League Cup 1/4 finals at stake.

League Cup, Last 16 round: Stoke City (a)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Grounds, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Barkhuizen, Ameobi, Oztumer - Doidge

Subs: Broughton, Olkowski, Williams, Diangana, Wilson, Lowe, Zelalem

A very dull start by both teams as Stoke can't connect up front. Samson intercepts the ball and launches a counter, Oztumer makes a good run through the middle to take the ball on the left, a cross by Grounds...but Doidge is short and Stoke has the ball now. Corner for the visitors, Oztumer takes it...Wheater with the header...over. A cold and boring night in stoke, with no rain. HT, 0-0.
Only 20 minutes to go and Diangana and Ameobi are both on. A brief exchange of passes makes Stoke defence uncomfortable and Vela has a chance to shoot...but he switches flanks as the ball comes to Mark Little...a good cross towards the far post, Doidge is there...and he's been pulled! The referee blows his whistle, it's a penalty! Huge moment for Erhun Oztumer as he takes the responsability. 1 on 1 with Federici....straight down the middle it goes, Wanderers are in front! Not too much time left, Berahino tries to give a quick response...but the ball is nowhere near the target and seems that could be it. Vela keeps the ball on the far right, Bolton are waiting for the FT whistle...and it comes! The visitors have done it, they are through to the quarterfinals of the League Cup. What a stunning achievement!


Who would have thought this would happen after a dreadful September? I had a hinch that our LC run could make us a bit more optimistic about our chances and the lads responded magnificently. We're out of the relegation zone and into the last 8 of the League Cup. Chelsea are by far the toughest opponents we could get at this point and I'd definitely settle for a tie against any fellow Championship side (there are three left, Sheffield Utd, Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea). Good times to be a Wanderer.
Tough games to come, three on the road and a home tie against the leaders.



Games to come:

Fantastic month there, even with a number of draws to begin with. To be in the Quarter Finals of the Carabao Cup is also a great achievement. :)


Spirits are high and we continue our season with some tough fixtures to come in November. We're off to Villa Park where the fallen giant awaits us. They are having a pretty bad season so far and struggle even to make the top half.


Matchday 16: Aston Villa (a)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wheater, Hobbs - Samson, Vela - Barkhuizen, Ameobi, Oztumer - Doidge

Subs: Wilson, Olkowski, Grounds, Williams, Diangana, Zelalem, Buckley

Bolton are first to threaten here as Ameobi makes a good run down the left in order to cross the ball and find Barkhuizen in the middle. Preston loanee shoots it high...but it's saved by Nyland comfortably. Now Hourihane tries his luck on the other side...but his effort is not that good and it's a goal kick. McGinn looks eager to change Villa fortunes, he picks up Bolasie on the right and then proceeds forward to finish the action, he aims for the bottom left...and he hits the post! So unlucky. Bolton are trying to respond as Oztumer sends it into space on the left for Doidge, he proceeds to cross from byline...Barkhuizen with the diving header...hits the post! But the ball goes over the line somehow and it's 1-0 to the visitors! Villa look stunned but Goal line technology made it's call and Barkhuizen sends Wanderers in front. McGinn tries to find Abraham on the right, and the latter cuts inside to try to make this one count...nope, it is saved by Alnwick. Vela makes another brilliant tackle in the middle as he sends a long one towards Doidge but his shot goes wide of the left post. HT here and Bolton are 1-0 up.
Samson is having a blast today and Zelalem is in for very tired Josh Vela. Abraham tries to make his run down the left this time as Villa are in a hurry to get themselves back into the game. He picks up Hourihane with his pass and the ball finds it's way through to Adamah...huge chance...and what a save by Ben Alnwick! Pressure by the hosts continues as McGinn sends it flying and Abraham is there for the rebound....wide! Oh my God, what a miss by young Abraham!! Fluke of the season possibly...Bolton were lucky there and now Samson picks Oztumer who finds Zelalem on the left. The midfielder cuts inside and tries to beat Nyland on the near post...and it's a wonderful goal! 2-0 and what a strike by Gordon Zelalem it was! Villa were cruelly punished for their wasted chances. Now Wanderers will try to hang onto this...a good tackle by Samson once again. Kodjia is in for the hosts, he's all alone on the right after Adomah found him, tries to beat Alnwick's 2-1, they grab one back! 15 minutes to go, Bolton are desperately trying to save their win, Zelalem dispossesses Hourihane of the ball and launches a quick counter...but it's stopped in it's root by a poor touch from Buckley. Corner Villa, McGinn to take it...a header by Richards...wide! Mere moments to go and Hourihane tries from the distance...but it's well over and that is it. 2-1 to the visitors who claim huge 3 points!


A great win at Villa Park sends us flying and we're now knocking on the door of top half1 Who would've thought?! Our morale is high as ever and the lads are enjoying their football. Swansea to come next, they are currently 3rd but we feel like we could beat any opponent so I wouldn't write us off.

Matchday 17: Swansea City (h)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wheater, Wilson - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Broughton, Olkowski, Grounds, Williams, Brown, Zelalem, Noone

We're off here at the UniBol and Muscatt is first to break on the left side and crosses the low ball in the middle, Oztumer is, what a save from Nordfeldt! Leroy Fer is making his run now, the ball is picked up by Celina...but his shot is easily saved by Alnwick. Muscatt on the left again, it's a brilliant cross to the's 1-0 Bolton! Barkhuizen with the header again and it's 2 goals in 2 games for him! Vela is bossing the midfield, he now takes the ball and creates a huge chance for Diangana who aims low....and he hits the post! HT whistle is there and Swans will have to improve a lot in order to get something out of this one.
10 boring minutes as neither team is finding their pace. Good exchange of passes between Vela and Ameobi and the latter sends it over Swansea defence to find Zelalem, he shoots....and sends it into the far corner! 2-0 Bolton and Swans are in trouble now. Ameobi is on the run again, he gets past two and sends it back to's a shot....ooooooooh what a goal by Josh Vela! It's three for Wanderers who are surely the winners here! McBurnie and Carroll are both in for the visitors and they put some pressure on the opposition defence but nothing good comes from it. McKay with the cross, easily dealt by Wheater, Carroll is there on the rebound...over. That's the FT whistle, a fantastic win for Bolton Wanderers!


Another international break is there and we've got 4 wins in a row now....WOW. Just wow. If we count the League Cup win over Stoke then it's 5 straight wins and oh my God, who could have seen this coming? But the lads are looking unstoppable and the board recognizes this, awarding their manager and our captain in the process.

They actually offered me twice as much, but I lowered it in order to have more money available in January. We'll need every penny. And that's not all, we have finalized the deals for Will Buckley and Josh Magennis who will join fellow Championship sides Rotherham and Hull in the next transfer window. No fee, but we'll free up 750k of our wage budget and with O'Neil and Dyer having their contracts expired on January 1st we'll have another 600k free which is just massive. Add 250k of the wage I gave up on and it's about 1.5 million in total so hopefully we could bring a player or two in January and strengthen our squad a bit.
More good news as we kept Mark Little until 2021:

And we've also signed first professional contracts with our two biggest prospects:

No games to play this time as I don't want to risk any injuries. Millwall away next, they are lying 9th and looking for a win that could lift them up and get them into the play-off zone.


Matchday 18: Millwall (a)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wheater, Hobbs - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Zelalem - Barkhuizen

Subs: Grounds, Olkowski, Lowe, Noone, Buckley, Doidge, Brown

Cold night here in London and not much action in the opening 20 minutes or so. Diangana had his shot denied by Archer and Millwall were trying to use most of their set-pieces but to no avail. Muscatt was unsure here and Jed Wallace gets the ball and makes his way's a terrific cross...Morrison beats Wheater to it and it's 1-0 Millwall! Straight out of nowhere. Wanderers trying to respond, a nice chip by Ameobi gives Barkhuizen the chance to shoot....but it goes wide. Vela tries his luck from the edge of the box, it's denied and Ameobi is there for the rebound....saved by Archer! Muscatt makes a decent cross right before HT but Barkhuizen can't get to it and 45 minutes are up.
No time to waste here as both Olkowski and Noone are in, the latter making his first appereance since August due to injury. Ameobi picks up Zelalem in the middle and the ball comes to Muscatt again....wide! Millwall were lucky there and their fans are on the edge of their seats. It's all Bolton at the moment, brilliant ball by Vela finds Noone on the left, he cuts inside and aims for the bottom right....ohh another great save by Jordan Archer. Zelalem makas another good pass and Muscatt tries to whip it in...denied by Archer but Samson is there for the rebound....and another save by Millwall keeper! So frustrating for the visitors as they struggle to make their final attempt...but with no success and that's it. Millwall edged this one.


Disappointing way to end our run as we were a much better team at The Den, but that's football. Final game of the month to come, Wednesday at Hillsborough. They are on a bad run at the moment, picking only one point in 4 games which brought them down to 16th. A win could lift us up in the top half before a huge, huge derby game against Wigan on December 1st. Oztumer is back after serving 1-match suspension.

Matchday 19: Sheffield Wednesday (a)

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Wheater, Hobbs - Samson, Vela - Barkhuizen, Ameobi, Oztumer - Doidge

Subs: Olkowski, Broughton, Grounds, Lowe, Diangana, Zelalem, Brown

Bolton looking for a strong start here as Barkhuizen makes his run. He comes into the middle, picks up a pass over the defence, Ameobi with the volley....ohhhh it's 1-0 already! 9 minutes off the clock and Wanderers couldn't have wished for a better start. Hosts seem unable to respond as Vela launches a great ball towards Barkhuizen, he puts a low cross in for Doidge...and it's saved by Wildsmith. Corner for the away team. Oztumer puts it's's cleared off the line! All Bolton at the moment. Ameobi with another brilliant's just wide. Meanwhile, Adam Reach is all alone on the left, he tries his luck...but it's gone well over the bar. HT at Hillsborough.
Little wins the ball and plays one-two with Oztumer who picks up Barkhuizen in the middle, he then proceeds to set the ball on his left foot....ohhhh another brilliant goal! Wanderers have doubled their lead courtesy to another goal by Tom Barkhuizen! Preston loanee now wins the ball and gives it to Vela. The midfielder wastes no time and tries a long ball in for Doidge who makes his run...and he scores as well! Cool finish by Chris Doidge who scores his 3rd of the season. Wednesday are well-beaten here. Forestieri is finally in but it's too little, too late. Reach makes a good effort to wind Forestieri but his shot is denied by the post. Eddie Brown makes his away league debut and almost gets an assist by his name but Oztumer misses a sitter. FT here, a stunning performance by Bolton who are now in the top half of Championship table!


We're almost half way through and the table looks so, so nice.

On the other hand, our overall balance doesn't:

Huge month for us to come, we have a derby game against Wigan at home, some really tough matches against Leeds and Norwich, and of course, a massive LC quarterfinals against Sheff Wed.


With the limitations you're struggling from I think you're doing extremely well!
You're doing incredibly well with the restrictions Bolton have in place! Only five points off the play-offs, you could easily be in among the promotion hopefuls within the space of two weeks!


Last month of the year and it's a very important one for us. Wigan at home first, not only a mid-table clash but a local derby.

Matchday 20: Wigan Athletic (h)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Little, Muscatt, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Grounds, Olkowski, Wilson, Lowe, Zelalem, Brown, Noone

Flying start for the Wanderers as Little makes a great run down the right. His cross finds Ameobi on the far corner, here comes the header....saved by Walton. Now Vela makes his way through and picks up Oztumer who carries the ball to the left...a low cross...Barkhuizen shoots it...just outside the post! Corner Bolton, Oztumer to take it...Hobbs with the header...and he hits the bar! Ameobi on the rebound...over! All Bolton in the opening 15 minutes. 78% possession for the hosts but they fail to make it count, here comes Diangana, he cuts inside and aims for the far corner...Walton grasps it with his finger and it's another corner. Oztumer's cross finds Wheater who heads it....but it goes over the crossbar. Muscatt is all alone on the left now...but Walton denies his effort. HT whistle here and Bolton will wonder how are they not in front.
Here we go and Zelalem is on for Oztumer. Arsenal loanee with his first effort....he hits the post! So close but Bolton still can't break through. Ameobi tries to pick Barkhuizen with the pass...Dunkley makes a sloppy mistake and Barkhuizen has a sitter...saved by Walton, again! Now Vela shoots from distance...and he's denied by Walton. 20 minutes to go, Bolton with 15 shots, 9 going on target, but it's still 0-0. Evans tackles Vela on the center and he smoothly makes a pass to McDonald who can break through! A huge chance for Wigan....and it goes wide! What a let off, a warning sign for the hosts. Muscatt with yet another great cross, he finds Zelalem in the middle...and Walton is there to save the day again. Wigan with a rare attack in the 2nd half, Powell is trying to get himself into the box, he's tackled by Hobbs from behind, surely a penalty?! Yes, the referee points to the spot and Wigan have a massive chance now! Powell to take it....1-0 to the Latics!! How on Earth has this happened? They've been on the back foot for 78 minutes but now sit comfortably. Bolton trying to respond but to no avail. Olkowski puts the cross in and Zelalem is there to make it count...but Walton saves it one more time! Last chance comes to Hobbs, can he redeem for the penalty he conceded? A header aims for the far corner....wide! It's all over here and Wigan take the 3 points home.


I am absolutely fuming after this game. So many chances, we absolutely battered them from start to finish and yet, couldn't score. A very painful result against the worst possible opponent. Morale is down all of a sudden and couple of players now want to leave?! O'Neil and Dyer, whose contracts run out in less than a month... sit down and wait you mongs. I can't release them due to poor financial situation and they won't make a mutual termination so waiting is all we can do now. Donaldson also wants to leave and it's a good riddance. Hopefully, he'll find the club in January.
Tough game to come, Alnwich is still carrying a knock and Matthews can't play against his own team so young Aspinall will have to guard our goal. Norwich are one of the better teams in the league, lying 6th on the table.

Matchday 21: Norwich City (a)

Bolton XI: Aspinall - Olkowski, Muscatt, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Wilson, Grounds, Little, Lowe, Zelalem, Noone, Doidge

Opening 15 here and it's all Norwich who are looking to grab an early goal. Pukki puts the ball inside and Stiepermann is there to finish...but it bounces off the post and goes wide! Ameobi tries to respond on the other side but he can't break Norwich defence, and with little help from his team-mates, attack eventually goes to nothing. Stiepermann shoots from distance and Aspinall can just deny it for a moment, as Hernandez is there for the rebound....1-0 Norwich. Vrancic looks to double the lead but he is fouled on the edge of the box. Free kick comes to nothing and Bolton could break through here...the ball comes to Oztumer who knocks it past the defender and passes is to Ameobi...a low shot...and it's an equalizer! 1-1 at the Carrow Roud. Vrancic makes a run in order to get his team up front quickly, he fires...ohhh what a goal and what a poor effort by Aspinall! Bolton are paying the price here, their 3rd choice goalie should have done better with this one. No time to recover really as the HT whistle sends both set of players to the dressing rooms.
Zelalem in for tired Vela and it seems Bolton are sitting on a back foot. Stiepermann makes another good run and puts a low cross in...and Hernandez chips it into the net, 3-1 Norwich. This game seems done. Pukki with a great shot from distance, Aspinall with the save...and the ball hits the bar and goes behind. So close for the hosts! Corner Norwich as they look for their 4th, but Johnson heads the ball wide. Last minutes of this game and Bolton are looking for their 2nd but Doidge can't convert it and now the hosts could break through. Vrancic goes past Hobbs and lobs Aspinall as Stiepermann is on the line to claim the goal. 4-1 and Wanderers are well-beaten.


So it's our 2nd loss in a row and we're knocked down to 16th but still not in great danger. However, it could all change easily as we go on to host one of the best teams in the league. Leeds are lying 2nd and are on an 8-games unbeaten run so it's a tough task for our team. Matthews is back in as we put our strongest line-up out there.

Matchday 22: Leeds United (h)

Bolton XI: Matthews - Olkowski, Grounds, Wheater, Hobbs - Williams, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Alnwick, Little, Muscatt, Wilson, Lowe, Noone, Dyer

Nearly 120 seconds gone and Grounds is making his run down the left. He exchanges passes with Ameobi and now has a clear path! A good ball in the middle and...Oztumer makes it 1-0! What a start to the game for Wanderers! Ameobi in a good spirit today as he dribbles his way through the middle in order to put Josh Vela in play. Vela's denied by Blackman and Diangana could finish this....but it is blocked by Carl Jenkinson. Arsenal loanee tries to make things happen in the opposition area as his pass picks Roofe...but his header is not good enough to put Matthews in danger. Alioski tries from a free-kick but there is little power in his strike and Bolton are not in danger. Williams with the last effort of the half...not good enough. HT here at UniBol, home team is in front.
Brown comes in for Leeds in order to shake things up. Ameobi on the run again as he puts a low cross in and....Barkhuizen hits the post! Forshaw puts a brilliant ball in and Alioski deflects off Wheater and goes behind Matthews! 1-1 in a bizarre fashion as Leeds grab an equalizer. Diangana comes in and makes a great run through the Leeds defence, he aims for the corner....brilliant save by Blackman! Oztumer tries to shake things up, a very good pass to Vela who then proceeds to put Grounds in a great chance....he hits the post! So unlucky again but Bolton are charging in! 8 minutes to go as Wanderers have a corner. Oztumer puts it in...and Hobbs heads it over! Not long left, Olkowski tries to go past Douglas, and he's fouled. Ameobi crosses to the far post, it's headed by Hobbs....Blackman punches it and it falls to Vela who shoots immediately....another great save by Blackman but now it's Oztumer........and it's a gooooooooooooal!!! Oztumer wins the game for Bolton, it's 2-1 in dying seconds. A huge win for the hosts!


This win couldn't have come in a better time for us, as we rise up again to the 13th place and get away from the relegation battle. Next of the season! Our LC quarterfinal tie and it should be a very even game at Hillsborough. We crushed them not so long ago but I know it's very difficult to beat the same team twice in a short period of time. They will be ready to stop us!

League Cup 1/4 finals, Sheffield Wednesday (a):

Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Grounds, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Olkowski, Muscatt, Wilson, Lowe, Zelalem, Noone, Doidge

Wednesday are looking to score from a free-kick as Forestieri fires it...but it cannons off the crossbar and Bolton somehow survived this! Ameobi now with a great run down the left, he aims for the far corner and Diangana is there to finish it...Hector blocks it at a last moment! Brilliant effort! Vela makes a long pass in order to find Barkhuizen...but his shot goes wide! HT here and not too much to report.
Doidge is in for very poor Tom Barkhuizen and Bolton are trying to get themselves in front. A fine effort by Samson forces Wildsmith to intervene, but no one is there for the rebound and Wednesday can take a break now. 25 minutes to go and Bolton are putting a lot of pressure in the final third. Oztumer finds Diangana on the right side as he cuts inside and aim for the bottom left...Wildsmith saves the day! Vela tries his luck from just outside the box and forces Wildsmith to make another fantastic save! A good run there from Doidge but he can't aim properly and it seems it will all go down to penalty drama! Samson with the final effort......wide! Penalties it is, third time this season for Bolton!

Steven Fletcher will open the shoot-out......fantastic penalty, 1-0.
Oztumer tries to respond....but his effort is saved by Wildsmith.
Bannan for Wednesday....into the top corner, 2-0!
Ameobi is under a lot of pressure...and it comes to him as he blasts it over!
Hooper to make this an impossible mission for Bolton....3-0 Wednesday, they are almost through!
Zelalem must score this one and hope for a miracle...he does his job, 3-1 now.
Hector had a briliant game tonight, can he be the hero and score this penalty....yes, he can, it's 4-1 and it's all done! Sheff Wed are through!


A very disappointing way to end our season in the LC but I guess it was coming as we had a lot of luck in previous ties. Well, time to focus on the league again. Three games to come before New Year and it would be great to win 4+ points and stay away from the danger area.

Matchday 23: Brentford (a):

Bolton Xi: Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Olkowski, Grounds, Wilson, Lowe, Zelalem, Noone, Doidge

A very dull first half, Brentford seem unable to create something dangerous in the final third but now Judge finally makes a good pass and Nuhiu has a decent chance....his effort goes wide of the right post. Barkhuizen makes a good run in order to put the ball into the box....and it comes to Oztumer but he blasts it over! HT at Griffin Park.
Watkins connects with the ball and heads goes over. A very boring game so far, as teams look like they would be content with sharing spoils. Noone and Zelalem are both in now and their combo put Barkhuizen in a good spot, he shoots...and he shoots it wide! Brentford tries to break through and Muscatt makes a good tackle...a foul?! And he also gets a second yellow and it's an early bath for the young left-back! Ridiculous decision! Now Vela tries to change something late in the game, but his effort is also not good enough and there's FT whistle. A dull 0-0 draw.


Matchday 24: Rotherham United (h):

Bolton Xi: Bolton XI: Alnwick - Little, Muscatt, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Noone, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Olkowski, Grounds, Wilson, Lowe, Zelalem, Ameobi, Doidge

Muscatt comes back in as his suspension is abolished after a review. And the left-back is first to make things happen as he makes a terrific run down the left, Smith comes in with a late tackle....and it's a bad one! The ref has no mercy and it's a straight red for Michael Smith, only 10 minutes off the clock! Huge chance for Bolton to edge this one. Noone cuts inside in order to cross it to Diangana, he aims for the middle....and it's denied by Rodak. Rotheram keeper is having a great spell as he saves the efforts from both Craig Noone and Josh Vela before Barkhuizen challenge him with a low shot from the far left. Oztumer crosses it in and Hobbs tries with the header....but it goes over and the HT whistle gives the away team a chance to rest and re-group.
Doidge is in and Bolton are all-out attack. Forest Green loanee puts it in for Barkhuizen who charges with power, he's surely been pulled...?! No, the referee says play on?? Ameobi is in and he makes a good run down the left, he then proceeds with a decent cross to the far right, Diangana heads it low for Vela....and he blasts it straight into the crossbar! Bolton are dangerously close here! 3rd corner in a row as Wheater and Hobbs are challenging Rodak but there's no beating Rotherham keeper today Oztumer is there with a late free-kick...and he hits the post. No one is there for the rebound and it's all over. Bolton are left wondering but Rotherham take a massive point home!


Matchday 25: Stoke City (h)

Bolton Xi: Bolton XI: Alnwick - Olkowski, Grounds, Hobbs, Wheater - Samson, Vela - Diangana, Ameobi, Oztumer - Barkhuizen

Subs: Little, Muscatt, Wilson, Lowe, Zelalem, Noone, Doidge

A very good start to the game for Bolton as Olkowski is repeatedly making some good runs on the right side. This time his cross finds Barkhuizen, but Preston loanee heads it just wide of the left post. Stoke unable to respond and Vela makes a good pass to find Ameobi who shoots....but Butland makes an excellent save. Can Potters weather the storm here? Oztumer is causing a lot of problems for their defence and now he creates a superb chance for Diangana...but Butland comes to the rescue again! Clucas finally manages to break down Bolton's back line and Afobe has a clear path...1-0 to Stoke City! HT whistle and Bolton are very unlucky to be trailing.
Doidge comes in immediately as Wanderers have nothing to wait. Ameobi makes a great run and tries to go all the way....but Martins Indi tackles him with no mercy! However, the ball comes to Vela who pushes it to the left and Diangana is there......1-1! 40 minutes to go and Wanderers have that extra bit of desire. Oztumer puts the ball in, it is not cleared well by Shawcross so Vela can shoot.....over! Now Clucas is trying to break through and he does that with a bit of luck, Afobe takes the ball away and tries to finish it all by himself....denied by Alnwick! Craig Noone is forced to come off and Whites are down to 10 men as they've used all of their subs. Bolton are pushing forward as Wheater and Hobbs are both on the center of the pitch. A good cross in the box...Doidge heads it...and it's a goal!!!!!! Bolton grab a late winner here, and Chris Doidge scores such an important goal! FT whistle is close but the hosts need to be careful here, Zinchenko comes in with a cross...and Clucas knocks it pass Alnwick, 2-2 and what an abysmal reaction it was from Jack Hobbs. Bolton lost their grip and now Clucas makes a terrific run in order to break through, he crosses the ball....Afobe with the header....over Ben Alnwick and into the net......3-2 Stoke City and they won this game in an unbelievable fashion. They were 2-1 down with only 3 minutes to go but won the game in the end.


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