Bolton Wanderers v Stevenage: Our midweek win on the Wirral was a massive result. But there's still work to be done – and we're still out on the road next...
Photo: "Only Fools and Horses" by chrisjohnbeckett is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Our midweek win on the Wirral was a massive result. But there’s still work to be done – and we’re still out on the road next. For the sake of travel time, we could have even got away with staying up in the North West for the past few days. Our next assignment is in Bolton; a short hop across the M6 and up a bit from Prenton Park. There’s a juicy carrot being dangled in our faces too; another win here lifting us above the Trotters into 20th.

We’re getting way too far ahead of ourselves, however.

First, let’s dwell on an unlikely, yet welcome, three points at Tranmere Rovers. With that result, we now sit six points above the three sides beneath us. And it puts some daylight between us and the relegation battle. Or is that just the lighter mornings and evenings of spring? But, look! We’ve gone from being in a situation with games in hand to now being ahead of everyone above us to 16th (Port Vale). And those below us?

Well, let’s not worry about Grimsby and Southend at the moment. Look up – not down…

The Details: Bolton Wanderers v Stevenage

Where’s the game?

You can mark this down as a little milestone in the Boro’ adventure as this is the first time we’ve been to the University of Bolton Stadium. Of course, it’s not a ground that fans can currently tick off as new. But it’ll take something alarming if this trip doesn’t take place yet again next season. So, that can be something for you to look forward to – yeah?

How can I watch Bolton Wanderers v Stevenage?

By signing up to an iFollow Match Pass, you can watch all the action unfold live and direct from the University of Bolton Stadium. It still costs a tenner. And that’s the bottom line…

How is Boro’s form looking at the moment?

Even with the result at Tranmere, our form over the last eight games remains the same. It simply replaced our home win against Cambridge in the overall calculations. So, it means we’re still on 12 points from a possible 24 – along with six other sides. Just five teams are in better shape on that basis. And the Trotters are not one of them. But we’ll come to them in just a minute. Hold yo’ horses for a darn tootin’ moment.

Looking at SoccerStats.com, there isn’t a massive amount of change from our last preview. One more in the Goals For column still leaves us five short of Bradford, who have the fourth-worst attacking record in the division. But we have moved up the ‘away table’ as a result of our win at Prenton Park. It means FOUR sides now have a worse record on the road than us. And are we working on a reputation for late goals? More than a third (36%) of our total haul are products of the final 15 minutes.

… and how are the Trotters doing right now?

Life at home isn’t all it’s cracked up to be for the Trotters. Based on current form, our hosts are just as likely to pick up a point or three on their travels. At home, they’ve collected 16 points from 14 games. On the road, meanwhile, it’s 16 points from 12. It adds up to a fairly inconsistent picture – as shown in their last eight outings. Apart from a 2-0 home win over Leyton Orient, there have been three defeats and four draws.

It’s a far cry from the Trotters’ purple patch in November; a run of form that saw them win four on the spin – including the 2-1 victory at our place. And that fall from fortune is a key reason why they’re now very much in our sights; just three points above us with the same goal difference. Other lessons to learn from SoccerStats.com? Only four teams have let in more goals so far this season (38 from 26) and they tend to hold a lead when they get it.

Our story with Bolton Wanderers so far

There’s not much for us to talk about here. The eagle-eyed among you already know that we’ve only met the Trotters once before; this being the first season in which our two paths have crossed. In that first-ever encounter back in November, two first half goals ultimately proved enough for our guests to start things on the wrong foot. Tom Pett dragged us back into it just before the break. But it wasn’t enough and we couldn’t find an equaliser.

Last Time Out: Stevenage 1-2 Bolton Wanderers, 21 November 2020

Who’s the referee in charge?

Trevor Kettle.

We can’t always bring you good news and, after the last two years, you should be used to that by now. But this weekend’s ref is our old mucker, Mr Kettle. With 20 fixtures under his belt already, this lad knows the lay of the land. And he’s actually not a man for handing out the cards; 52 yellows so far is nowhere near being three each game. Three reds, however, is on the higher end of the spectrum from what we can recall. Make of that what you will.

He’s also reffed two 4-4 draws this season. Make of that what you will ‘n’ all.

It had baffled us why Mr Kettle’s name sent shivers down our spine. Our record had been decent enough up until the 2017-8 season. Six wins and three draws from 11 was decent enough. The last four seasons haven’t been so kind to us; winning one in the past five on his watch – Grimsby Town 0-2 Stevenage in April 2019. We’ve only ever met Mr Kettle on our travels since the start of the 2017-8 campaign too. What’s that all about?

Is he banned from the Lamex?

As much as we’d like to end on that point, we just realised that we had the pleasure of his company on Valentine’s Day 2017. We won 2-1 at home to Cheltenham. Monsieur Kettle, nous t’aimons… *plays Barry White LP*…

Last Meeting: Northampton Town 1-0 Stevenage, 01 January 2020

Bolton Wanderers v Stevenage: Our verdict?

We’re dead keen not to get carried away. So, we’re going to let our head have a free run at this one – not the heart. We can’t work out the Trotters at the moment. Then again, it’s not like we’re sticking to the form guide. In that sense, it’s anyone’s game. A third straight away win? It’s possible – but unlikely in our view. We’re good for a point, though: 1-1.

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Pete H is the head of the BoroGuide team; helping to keep the show on the road for the best part of two decades – all because of his love of Boro'. He was relatively late to the scene; first rocking up at Broadhall Way during the 1995-6 season. But that's mainly because he was too young to pledge allegiance before then. There have been more than enough highs (Easter Monday '96) and lows (Kettering '02) since then, however, to keep him occupied. Yes, and the 2010 title win...

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