Merry Christmas everyone!
Welcome back to our review of Bolton Wanderers' 2016/17 promotion winning season. Next up, the festive part of the year - December.
The month began with goalkeeper Ben Alnwick winning League One Player of the Month - it wouldn't be the first time that Bolton fans rigged an online poll. Normally we would deride Arsenal or Sheffield United fans for such an enterprise but, of course, it's different when it's us. This hot take is brought to you by Nando's.
The first match of December saw us comfortably beat Sheffield United 3-2 in the Second Round of the FA Cup. Early goals from Gary Madine and Sammy Ameobi set Wanderers on their way, before Josh Vela made it 3-1 after half time. They would score again to set up a somewhat nervy finish but the result was never in doubt.
Three days later and the Third Round draw brought us the return, after many years away, of Sam Allardyce - for me the greatest manager in our history. His appointment as England manager was disgracefully short lived, but it was with Crystal Palace that he would make his return a few weeks later.
The off-field shenanigans between Dean Holdsworth and Ken Anderson made the back pages on December 9th, with the former Bolton striker slamming the knitwear connoisseur for his constant piping up in his increasingly frequent newspaper columns. This issue would rear its head again further down the line.
Friday 12th December saw us return to happier enterprises as we pumped a surprisingly resilient Gillingham team 4-0 at home on the telly. Another brilliant Ameobi goal was overshadowed by a sensational strike from Josh Vela, who linked up with Zach Clough before slotting beneath the keeper showcasing the talents of both. It wouldn't be too long before the band broke up, but more on that later.
We all became embroiled in more financial goings-on soon after, as the thorny issue of Wanderers' debts became more widely known. As would become their style, the Andersons would deny that things were a problem as everyone else watched the world burn.
A surprise defeat would follow the Gillingham triumph as we lost 0-1 away to relegation threatened Chesterfield. It was a disappointing performance in a game that we had to real right to lose, and would set the tone for some up-and-down away performances over the next few weeks.
Christmas came and went, and it was on Boxing Day that we got back on track, winning 2-1 at home against Shrewsbury Town, with two goals from David Wheater who, alongside Mark Beevers, was quietly becoming one of the main players in our season to date.
Just before the all-important must-win home tie with Scunthorpe United on New Year's Eve, chairman Ken Anderson announced that Wanderers had managed to settle an outstanding debt owed to club kit manufacturer Macron. It was first reported on these very pages that Bolton owed the Italian firm some £150,000, but thankfully an agreement was reached before the matter hit the courts.
So it was that we welcomed Scunthorpe United on December 31st, with the opposition riding high in League One. Wanderers scored first, with that man Vela hitting the target on 17min as Bolton went in search of a tenth successive home win for the first time since 1993.
Twitter dickhead Neal Bishop would equalise before a last-minute James Henry scuff which neatly nestled inside the far post, sending Wanderers fans wild, and the team into second place.
It was a great win and one that was sorely needed as we attempted to keep pace with Scunthorpe and Sheffield United at the top of the league.
Happy New Year everyone!