Match Preview: Bolton Wanderers v Northampton Town

Bolton Wanderers v Northampton Town

We’re getting used to these international breaks now, aren’t we?! The Cobblers have had a couple of weeks to lick the wounds after a disappointing 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury Town and will hopefully be refreshed for another tough set of fixtures, starting with the trip to the brilliantly named Tough Sheet Stadium this weekend.
 
Bolton Wanderers’ newly branded ground hosts the first meeting of Cobblers and Trotters in six years and only the fourth clash between the sides since 1990. Jon Brady is unlikely to be daunted by a trip to the former Premier League side and will set up, as usual, to have a go and attempt to cause the sort of surprise that fellow promoted side Carlisle United did in the last set of fixtures. 
 
The Cumbrians, roared on by close to 4,500 fans, stunned Wanderers with a 3-1 victory and, while the Cobblers won’t be backed by that kind of following, we’ll still have a decent enough turn out. The home side are a wounded beast after that result, though, and it’s a must win for them as they attempt to get back on track.
 

The Opposition

Since that last meeting between the clubs in 2017, Bolton have been to hell and back. They finished second in League One that season and headed back towards the direction of the Premier League, where they had a good run of success between 2001 and 2012. But then, everything started going wrong. Throughout 2018/19, the club struggled financially and failed to pay a HMRC bill, receiving a winding up order in the process. Players went without pay, matches were postponed and the club were relegated back to League One.
 
May 2019 saw the club go into administration thanks to a £1.2 million unpaid tax bill and a twelve point penalty was immediately put in place for the start of the following season. Football Ventures Limited came to their rescue at the last minute as the clock ticked down towards them going out of business completely but on-pitch issues still suffered with an inevitable relegation confirmed on points per game, sending them into the basement division for the first time since 1988.
 
The rebuild would begin with the appointment of Barrow manager Ian Evatt and, under the new ownership, they started to fight back. Evatt led them to a superb run of form after Christmas in League Two and Wanderers finished in third place to seal promotion back to League One. A ninth place finish in their first campaign back was followed by a shot at the playoffs last season. Despite a narrow defeat to Barnsley in the semi-finals, the club finally seems like it’s back on the up thanks to Evatt’s astute and progressive management and any off field issues being put to bed.
 
The Trotters sit sixth going into the weekend with just three defeats in the league so far. Those set backs were against sides currently sat in 20th, 22nd and 23rd in the table, though, in Carlisle, Reading and Wigan so if you need something to cling on to, there’s some hope!
 

Last Time Out

Bolton were beaten at home by Carlisle United a couple of weeks ago while the Cobblers lost 1-0 at Shrewsbury Town.

One To Watch

With eight goals to his name to add to last season’s twenty one in all competitions, Dion Charles is the main man going forward for Bolton. 

Charles signed from Accrington in 2022 and has hit thirty seven goals in seventy four appearances for the club since.

Team News

Bolton  should welcome back defender Ricardo Santos, who has missed the last five games with a hamstring injury. Midfielder Paris Maghoma is another who should return to the squad following a thigh injury and he may directly replace Kyle Dempsey, who has been ruled out with a fractured vertebra. Defender Zac Ashworth will miss the weekend with a minor calf issue.

The Cobblers will again be without Jon Guthrie while Will Hondermarck and Jack Sowerby will also be missing once again. Keiron Bowie returns after featuring and scoring for Scotland Under 21s over the international break and Shaun McWilliams could make his 200th appearance for the club.

Line-Up Prediction

Match Officials

Martin Coy is the referee on Saturday. Coy last took charge of the Cobblers in a 2-2 home draw with Cambridge United in the FA Cup First Round in November 2021. Mark Cunliffe and Kevin Mulraine are running the lines and Conor Brown is fourth official.

Prediction

This is likely to be one of the more difficult away games of the season and the Cobblers will have to be at their absolute best against a side who know they have to win to convince their home fans that they’re on the right track. The best I can go for is a draw so I’ll go for a 2-2. 

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