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Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers vs Bradford City

Wanderers return home to face Bradford

Bolton Wanderers v Bradford City - Carabao Cup First Round Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images

Two encouraging draws have seen spirits lifted somewhat at the University of Bolton Stadium as Ian Evatt’s Bolton Wanderers host Yorkshire rivals Bradford City for the second time this season.

As Bolton target to secure a first league win of the season at home, they can consider themselves unlucky not to have taken all three points from the away fixture at high-flying Cambridge United on Saturday. The Whites were denied an important three points following an unfortunate error from on-loan goalkeeper Billy Crellin & a questionable Harry Brockbank disallowed goal. Despite being ruled out for offside, Brockbank’s ‘goal’ was still a meaningful indication that Evatt’s side are starting to get to grips with his playing style and this was further demonstrated when the Wanderers goal did come as Antoni Sarcevic added to his midweek heroics by emphatically finishing a lovely Wanderers move.

Despite the encouraging performances, it was the post-match comments of manager Ian Evatt which made the headlines as he publicly told his goalkeeper Crellin to ‘man-up’ following a number of errors in recent fixtures. A lot has been made in the media and despite Evatt’s apology later for the comment, the matter continues to rumble on.

Encouragingly for Bolton there is increasingly more consistency in some of their players’ performances, with Antoni Sarcevic imposing himself on the game more and the Wanderers defence looking completely different players to the start to the season.

For Bradford, the game represents an opportunity to bounce back from their disappointing 3-0 home loss to Newport County. The Bantams have struggled with their own form and Bradford fan David Wilman (@SpeccyDave) explained that the Yorkshire side have been ‘hit and miss, but with more miss than hit.’ He identified inconsistent team selection as a big issue for City and was not too confident for his sides chances at notching up a second straight win at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Bolton will likely be without star striker Eoin Doyle as the Irish hitman was substituted in the second half. This could see Arthur Gnahoua play from the start as fellow forward Shaun Miller continues his recovery and is unlikely to feature. Tuesday could also see the return of midfielder Tom White, on course for a much quicker return to action than first feared after a strong tackle from former-Wanderer Josh Vela in the EFL Trophy defeat to Shrewsbury Town, although Bolton may be tempted to retain their starting midfield three after a promising weekend performance.

For the Bantams, former Wanderer Clayton Donaldson could feature against his former side once more and the Yorkshire side are hopeful of the return of defender Bryce Hosannah.

Bradford will take heart from their 2-1 victory in EFL Cup at the start of the season and there have certainly been some spicier encounters over recent years between the two sides. Last season, Wanderers’ young guns took a competitive Bradford side to a penalty shootout in the EFL Trophy. In 2017, a packed Valley Parade saw Gary Madine score a crucial 2nd half goal as Bolton came from two goals down to draw. Bolton narrowly shade the all-time head to head with 17 wins to Bradford’s 15 and the sides sharing the spoils on 17 occasions.

Bolton are home favourites for the 19:00 kick off at 7/5 whilst an away win can be backed at 15/8 with the draw at 5/2.