After two wins in the last week, Bolton have extended their unbeaten run to 5 games. This weekend, they travel to Oakwell to take on the Tykes, who have the distinction of spending the most time in England's second division of any club. However, all of that experience hasn't seemed to be helping them much this season, as their home form is only marginally better than their away, and neither of them is great.
Barnsley are currently 21st in the Championship, 8 points behind 10th place Bolton. That said, they are on a great run of form, having taken 5 of their total of 10 wins this season in their last 7 games, suffering one loss and one draw in that stretch. Momentum is not the only thing on the Tykes' side, as their injury news sees the return of midfielder Kelvin Etuhu, and only one long term injury (left back Scott Golbourne) to boot.
On the other hand, Bolton have suffered some very disappointing news, as the recently returned Mark Davies is headed back to the treatment table for about 10 months. That said, it could be worse, as Mark pointed out earlier today. The Trotters have a plethora of options in the midfield, with Keith Andrews being Sparky's only company in the sick bay, ones which Dougie would be wise to use. Many Bolton fans would like to see Stuart Holden start, backed up by Jay Spearing. In that formation, it would be wise to include Darren Pratley, Lee Chung-Yong, and Chris Eagles to add the attacking impetus lost in Sparky. Dougie could also make a like-for-like swap, putting Eagles in Mark Davies' place, giving him the chance to rediscover his form from earlier in the season.
Another one of Bolton's myriad Davies will be under the spotlight for this match: Craig Davies. The newest Davies, of course, came from Barnsley in the January transfer window, and remains their top scorer of the season. Obviously, this will be his first trip back to Oakwell, but unsurprisingly, he insists old loyalties will not have any effect on the game. Ahead of the match, the striker said,
It's going to be a tough game at Oakwell - I know all about them.They never make it easy when you go there, but hopefully we can get a good result. I don't want them to get a good result against us, but I hope they do well for the rest of the season. Hopefully we can do what we've been doing, collect three points and carry on going up the table.
A sentiment I think we can all get behind. While Barnsley are on a good run at the moment, so are Bolton. If the visitors can get another win, it will be the first time they have won 3 league matches in a row in 11 months, high time indeed. It could see them possibly rise another 2 places in the table, the highest Bolton have reached this season.
Perhaps playoffs are out of the question at this point, but some momentum definitely wouldn't hurt, and more than a few of the players are in need of a confidence boost. Not only would this be a great win, it's also an attainable one. Come on you white men!