13 March 2021

Port Vale vs Bolton Wanderers

As the first anniversary of our incarcerations passed this week, thoughts inevitably turned to the last time we were allowed out to watch our beloved Wanderers at Wimbledon and Burton. Having a laugh at the first fan to wear a mask and a group of Bolton fans washing their hands together while dutifully singing happy birthday twice in the service station on the way back.  Little did we know what an extraordinary twelve months would follow that, for both the country and Bolton Wanderers. There is light at the end of the tunnel for the country as vaccinations kick in and we cautiously follow the Government’s roadmap. There is light at the end of the tunnel for Bolton Wanderers too as Ian’s Evatt’s bold roadmap is starting to come to fruition.
So, it was with growing excitement and expectations, we headed virtually to Burslem to face the Valiants and gain revenge for the 3-6 hammering we experienced at home earlier this season. We started with an unchanged team and Ian Evatt’s policy of no goalkeeper on the bench was soon challenged as Matt Gilks took a heavy knock on his ankle but thankfully, he got up and carried on. We then lost Antoni Sarcevic and we looked a bit tired and flat in the fist half. But we dug in, found some reserves of energy in the second half and Gethin Jones finished off a brilliant move after a fantastic set up by Dapo Afolayan to seal another three hard earned points. Port Vale were certainly up for this match and challenged us all the way, but their play in the final third let them down and they never really looked like scoring.
Now we get a little break without midweek games for a few weeks as our rivals play catch up. We are up to 6th but the position is clouded with most teams having games in hand on us. At least half the division are still in with a realistic shout for promotion, either outright or through the play-offs. It really is a case of taking one game at a time and let us see where it takes us. The skill, the spirit and the determination are there in abundance for us. But there are 11 more real tests to overcome, where our squad and character will be tested to the limits. Onwards and upwards, bring on Walsall.

6 March 2021

Bradford City vs Bolton Wanderers

It has been another good week to be a Wanderer, with Ricardo Almeida Santos signing up for another couple of years, followed by a solid, sound performance to see off the Latics from Boundary Park. How we wish we could have been there to see the match and get behind the lads for the exciting run in for this season. At the moment, the matches cannot come fast enough for the fans as we eagerly await the next instalment in this extraordinary, fortune changing season. Some fans are not looking forward to having to settle for only one match a week.
It would have been a special atmosphere at Valley Parade to face the Bantams as both sets of fans would have filled the ground to watch the two teams on winning runs. Alas, it was not to be as we had to head for iFollow quarantine again with rising expectations and excitement. Lloyd Isgrove came in for Nathan Delfouneso as Ian Evatt tweaked his team. We just about edged the first half, although both goalies could have been watching iFollow with us as they had nothing to do. In the second half, we took total control and deservedly took the lead when Nathan Delfouneso chested home, after several other good chances to go ahead. At one stage, Bradford could not get out of their own half for about ten minutes as we pressed them. Unfortunately, the goal spurred Bradford into action and Matt Gilks had to pull off a ‘world class’ save to deny them before Danny Rowe smashed home a last-minute equaliser. A measure of how far this team has developed is that players and fans alike were disappointed that we had dropped points from this match.
We are playing like a proper team now, defending as a team and attacking as a team. Of course, there is room for improvement but surely that means that things can only get better. There are clear signs of unity and direction emerging at the club but as with any family, there will be the occasional squabble. The Club, the Town and the Community has come together under Sharon Brittan’s leadership and this will be our strength moving forwards. On Tuesday night, the Bolton family will remember our 33 supporters who went to watch the Wanderers 75 years ago and never went home. Once in, never out. We will remember them.