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Match preview: Bolton Wanderers vs Brighton & Hove Albion

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Bolton return home after another disappointing away defeat to face high-flying Brighton, who have won their last two matches and scored six goals in the process.

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Bolton Wanderers have a horrible defense at the moment.  The club have played six games in February.  They have lost five of them.  They have scored nine goals in those six matches, which is not bad, and should lead to more than 1 win.  But they have conceded 16 goals in that same span.  Looking back, from November 29th to December 19th Bolton kept four straight clean sheets.  It looked like Neil Lennon had solved the defensive problems that had plagued the club for so long.  But now that run is a distant memory, and Lennon is feeling pressure for the first time in his Wanderers career.

Despite the retched defensive performances of the past month, we are unlikely to see wholesale changes.  Both Adam Bogdan and Andy Lonergan are still injured, so Manchester United loanee Ben Amos will continue in goal.  Matt Mills comes back from suspension, and is almost guaranteed to start, if for no other reason than because he is still one of our leading goal-scorers.  Tim Ream was involved in training on Friday, although it seems extremely unlikely that he will be ready to return to the pitch.  The other defensive options are Dorian Derive, David Wheater, and Dean Moxey.  All have played a role in the goal bonanza our opponents have been enjoying.  In fact, the only defender who has not been involved in the collapse is Kevin McNaughton, whom Mr. Lennon obviously does not fancy.

During this current poor run of form the attacking side of the pitch has not been a big problem.  Youngsters such as Saidy Janko and Zach Clough have impressed, along with on-loan striker Adam Le Fondre and inconsistent winger Liam Feeney.  I fully expect Wanderers to score goals on Saturday.  The trick is to score more than the opponent.

Personally, I don't think the defensive problems will be solved.  I believe the issue actually lies in midfield.  And if players continue to be played out of position, particularly in the center of the park, teams will continue to find space, and continue to score goals.  I expect Saturday's match to be another fun encounter for the neutral, and another excruciating day of lost points for Bolton.  I'll predict 3-3.