It is once again make-or-break time for Bolton Wanderers. The Trotters are still very much within shout of a playoff spot but a win against high (ish) flying Wolverhampton Wanderers is absolutely crucial for the men in white. Bolton's form has taken a dip following an absolutely incredible run between February and March but Tuesday's home win against Huddersfield Town could be the jumping-off point that Bolton really need.
Six home wins on the bounce, the last four of which were 1-0 wins. That is the streak that Bolton Wanderers will look to extend as they welcome Wolves, nursing an excellent unbeaten streak of their own, to the Reebok Stadium.Wolves have lost just once in their last six matches and have won four of the last five. Their away form is roughly equal to their home form so Trotters fans can't expect any massive dips from that other Wanderers side. However, despite picking up 13 of a possible 18 points, they remain only a point outside of the drop zone and have to watch their backs.
Bolton will welcome Craig Davies and Sam Ricketts back into the side this weekend. Both players were suspended for the Huddersfield Town match after receiving two (ridiculous, soft, dumb, etc) yellow cards apiece in the 2-3 loss at Charlton last weekend. Sam Ricketts could easily replace Danny Butterfield in the starting lineup while it is very likely that Craig Davies will start on the bench. The David Ngog and Marvin Sordell partnership worked reasonably well against the Terriers on Tuesday and Dougie Freedman could stay with it in hopes that it will flourish.
Wolves have just suffered a massive injury blow and will be without leading scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake. The forward with 15 goals to his name this season took a hard challenge from Paul Robinson (that Robbo) on Monday in Wolves' win against Birmingham City. The tackle left Ebanks-Blake with a broken fibula and high ankle sprain, forcing him out for a long time.
The last time these two sides met was in October of 2012 and it was Jimmy Phillips' second match in charge, following the sacking of Owen Coyle. Benik Afobe had put the Trotters ahead early on but a Kevin Doyle double gave Wolves the advantage. It took a last-gasp equalizer from Mark Davies to get Bolton a point. The side that started the match for Bolton makes for interesting reading now:
Adam Bogdan, Tyrone Mears, Matt Mills, Tim Ream, Stephen Warnock, Chris Eagles, Jay Spearing, Mark Davies, Martin Petrov, Kevin Davies, and Benik Afobe.
There is the very real possibility that Jay Spearing and Chris Eagles will be the only two players from that side to feature this weekend.
Bolton Wanderers are just four points outside of the playoffs. Bolton fans will have to keep an eye on the Brighton & Hove Albion vs. Leicester City match (which is really lose/lose for us) as well as the Nottingham Forest vs. Blackpool clash. If results go Bolton's way, the Trotters could reasonably cut the playoff gap to just two points. A Leicester City win would keep Brighton at 61 points, pushing the Foxes back up to sixth place on 62 points. Three points for Bolton would put them on 60 points, and, if Blackpool beat Forest, could see Bolton vie for fifth.