Welcome back to the penultimate edition of Bolton Wanderers 2016/17 review, this time, March.
We entered the month anxiously of the back of a rocky February, yet still well within reach of an automatic promotion spot. The month began with the news that Digital Bank had become the club’s new academy sponsor and was soon embroidered across the stadium as part of the advertising deal.
The first on-the-pitch action of the month came in the form of a home game against Wimbledon, a tough game against a tall side who were a good match up for the Whites and kept us at bay as the game finished 1-1, the Wanderers goal courtesy of Gary Madine.
The very next day, news emerged that a deal had finally been agreed for Ken Anderson to become nearly-sole owner of the club at the fifth time of asking, a promising move which would see Dean Holdsworth sell all of his shares in the club but remain a club ambassador. Following this, it was announced that the free school would close at the end of this academic year having been deemed inadequate in all areas by Ofsted.
Next up was Fleetwood Town away, a hotly anticipated game and a sell out in the away end. Upon the announcement of the team news for the game, it was made public that Jem Karacan has signed a short term deal at the club, keeping him at Bolton until the end of the season. The new signing would start on the bench.
The Fleetwood game proved to be a massive turning point in the eyes of the fans as automatic promotion became a likely reality, the game finished 4-2 to Bolton, the goals came from Wheavers and a double from Adam Le Fondre, his first goals for the club since his return in January.
Swiftly after the Fleetwood game was a mid-week trip to Gillingham, the hosts once again found themselves on the wrong side of a rather convincing 4-0 scoreline, the goals were scored by Wheavers, Vela and Le Fondre. This was two quick and impressive away wins in succession after a previous drought of four months since the last one.
The following game was at home against Northampton Town, a closely fought game in the driving rain which finished 2-1 to Wanderers. This was a vital three points in a must win game, but not before a brief injury time scare as the visitors had the ball in the back of the net for the equaliser which was luckily deemed offside, much to the amusement of Whites fans as an initially smug Matty Taylor was put firmly back in his place having begun to prematurely celebrate infront of the home crowd. Wanderers goals courtesy of an Adam Le Fondre penalty and a first goal in a white shirt for ‘assist-king’ Filipe Morais.
There was yet another quick game in succession as Wanderers travelled to Oxford United in mid-week in a televised match under the lights. This was by far the most convincing and best win of the season in my opinion, a 4-2 victory concluded by a David Lee-esque mazing run and smart finish from Josh Vela re-affirmed Whites’ fans hopes of promotion as the end of the season neared. The other goals came from Beevers, Morais and an own goal.
The final game of the month came against Shrewsbury Town away. Whites fans flocked in their numbers, hopeful, expectant and buoyant following an impressive string of results, and they were right to be, another very impressive performance from the Whites saw March become the first and only month in which we had gone unbeaten this season. 2-0 was the final scoreline, two second half goals, the first from Mark Beevers, the second to wrap it up was a classic Adam Le Fondre finish, it was only ever going to end up in one place.
Despite an unfortunate season ending injury sustained by Ben Alnwick, the atmosphere was ecstatic at full time as promotion got nearer and nearer and “The Whites are going up!” rung out at Greenhouse Meadow.
The month ended on two highs as it was firstly announced that the south stand would be opened to home fans due to high demand, a crowd expected of in excess of 20,000 for the Chesterfield game. The second and more importantly being that during the BWSA meeting, when asked about his future and the potential for him to “stay here for the rest of your career”, the clinical striker replied “that’s the plan!” which soon sent fans into delirium on social media, understandable, of course.
So that was March, one month to go and promotion was definitely on the cards. Could we do it? Could we be the first time to go up under embargo? Find out in April’s final edition of our season review later this week.