God, I’d almost forgotten we were in the middle of a football season; this international break seems to have gone on for an age. Yet it was only a few short weeks ago that we suffered a disappointing defeat at the hands of our Lancashire rivals Blackburn. Aside from a general lack of creativity at times I wasn’t too disheartened by what I saw in our last game, we pressed well and controlled the game for large spells, a bit of luck and we might’ve come away with something. Rotherham this weekend will be a different task, after being thumped on opening day they’ve had a mixed bag of results, with some good wins of their own thrown in and now sit 4 points below us in the table. I believe that we have a better squad on paper and if we play how we played against Derby, we will get a result at the New York Stadium on Saturday.
Debate has been focussed over the international break about a possible change in tactics from Parkinson and what he could do differently with the players at his disposal. The free agent signings of Lloyd Dyer and Stephen Ireland certainly give us more options in key positions, if Ireland can get and stay fit. Dyer especially presents an interesting option as he can play LWB so we might be looking at a return to a back 3, which would see us deploy 2 up top (finally).
I can’t see Parky doing anything drastic for a game away from home, we all know how he likes to set up and I firmly expect to see the same squad that lost against Blackburn. However, I do think this game in particular would be a good game in which to mix it up a bit: Rotherham aren’t great and we can and should be trying to get at them early on. If we sit back and concede a sloppy goal, it will be hard for us to break them down, no matter who he chucks on.
Rotherham – 23/20
Bolton – 12/5
If we do win on Saturday it’ll be the first time in 52 years we’ve managed it at the New York, our last win there being a 1-0 back in 1966 and we’ve collected just one point in our last 8 league away trips to Rotherham. To win big place your bets on Bolton because our torrid record is reflected in the bookies odds, marking Rotherham as firm favourites to win on the day.
According to manager Paul Warne, Rotherham are getting a number of first team players back to full fitness after experiencing a bit of an injury crisis in recent weeks. Richie Towell, Richard Wood, Clark Robertson, Michael Smith and Wanderers fan favourite Jamie Proctor are back and available for selection. Proctor himself did an interview with The Bolton News, stating in it how he loves playing against his old clubs. Well, if he’s anything like we remember him then we’ll love it too. Shaun Raggett and Darren Potter are still stated to unavailable however. In squad news for Wanderers it’s likely that we’ll see Andrew Taylor back, he hasn’t featured since his injury against Preston and would likely play ahead of Grounds if fully fit. No news on Ben Alnwick makes it likely that we’ll see Remi Matthews again in goal but Parkinson has ruled out a first start for Stephen Ireland, as he is still lacking in match fitness.
Rotherham 1-2 Bolton
I’m going to go bold, stupid and optimistic and go for us to get a massive away win. I think we’ll start a bit shaky but grow into the game, nick a couple of goals on the break and then concede one towards the end as we’re sitting back in typical Bolton fashion. I mean, that all sounds very unlikely now I’m reading it aloud to myself, but it’d be nice wouldn’t it?
Enjoy the game; see you all on Twitter for either despair or delight tomorrow evening.