Wanderers' 14th game of this Championship season sees them make the 520 mile and 8 hour round trip to the South Coast to play AFC Bournemouth.
It'll be just the 21st time that the two sides have met. The first occasion was back in 1926 which saw a 2-2 in the FA Cup. The FA Cup games of 1926 preceded a break of 45 years before the next meeting, in the Third Division back in 1973. According the history books, Wanderers and Bournemouth have eight wins apiece, with four draws thrown in there for good measure. Our last fixture against the Cherries was back in 1993.
This weekend however the stakes are high. Bolton Wanderers are struggling, badly, and will turn up at Dean Court in dire need of a win. The home side, by contrast, are exceeding expectations in 11th position with 17 points from their 13 games so far.
Promoted from League One in second place in from the 2012/13 season, achieving promotion to the second-tier for the first time since 1990.
Manager Eddie Howe oversaw a busy summer on the South Coast, bringing in five new players. Recognisable names amongst the new signings include ex-Norwich City defender Elliott Ward, ex-Leeds United man Ian Harte, Andrew Surman on loan from Norwich and with some fanfare Tokelo Rantie from Swedish outfit Malmo FF for a reputed £2.2m, smashing the club transfer record. Premiership experience arrived on loan from West Ham, managed of course by ex-Bolton Wanderers legend Sam Allardyce, in the shape of midfielder Jack Collison and goalkeeper Stephen Henderson.
An inconsistent start saw Bournemouth ‘enjoy' a streak of winning one week and losing the next until the seventh fixture. Impressive wins over Wigan Athletic, Charlton Athletic and Barnsley was intermingled with defeats against the likes of Huddersfield Town and Watford, where Bournemouth conceded eleven goals over two consecutive away games.
Since then, things have remained inconsistent, a late September two-game losing streak was followed by a thumping 5-2 win over Millwall and a creditable away draw to promotion contenders Nottingham Forest at the City Ground.
Top scorer in all competitions is former Crystal Palace and Millwall striker Lewis Grabban, with seven goals.
13.04.1991 - Bournemouth 1 v 0 Bolton Wanderers
14.09.1991 - Bournemouth 1 v 2 Bolton Wanderers (David Reeves, Phil Brown)
31.03.1992 - Bolton Wanderers 0 v 2 Bournemouth
19.09.1992 - Bolton Wanderers 1 v 1 Bournemouth (Tony Philliskirk)
27.04.1993 - Bournemouth 2 v 2 Bolton Wanderers (Julian Darby, Phil Brown)
Heart - Bournemouth 2 v 5 Bolton Wanderers (Chris Eagles x5)
Head - Bournemouth 1 v 0 Bolton Wanderers
What a massive game for the Whites and for manager Dougie Freedman. We are still at the ‘must win' phase of the season and it is imperative that we come away with a point at least. Even this will not really be good enough but would be, of course, better than a defeat.
I really hope we can take all three points, but given the horror show that I saw on Saturday I am not confident. I fear that anything less than four points from Bournemouth and then Millwall the following week will leave Wanderers up shit creek without a paddle, and the meat of this laboured metaphor is that Dougie Freedman is that paddle.