Meet Town's opposition: Bolton bid to end 20-year curse today

Bolton Wanderers celebrate sealing promotion to League One after winning the Sky Bet League Two matc

Bolton Wanderers celebrate promotion last season. They visit Ipswich Town today - Credit: PA

Ipswich Town host Bolton Wanderers today (3pm) looking for their first League One win of the season. Mark Heath takes a look at the Trotters... 

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Bolton have had a fairly decent start to life back in the third tier, having been promoted through finishing third in last season's League Two table.

Wanderers are 12th, having played six games, winning two, drawing three and losing one.

They started the season with a couple of high-scoring draws - 3-3 with MK Dons and AFC Wimbledon, sides Town have also shared the points with.

They've enjoyed good wins over likely promotion pushers Lincoln City and Oxford United, while losing at Cambridge United, a side they were promoted with last season.

In their most recent match, on Monday, they were held 0-0 at home by ten-man Burton.

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All in all though, a satisfactory start. Bolton are playing some good, attractive, possession-based football and have a fair few attacking options. More on those in due course.

Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt speaks to the media after the Sky Bet League Two match at The New

Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt played under Paul Cook at Chesterfield - Credit: PA

Friends reunited

Today's game reunites two men with history together - Bolton boss Ian Evatt played under Paul Cook at Chesterfield.

Evatt's made an impressive start to his career as a manager, guiding Barrow back into the Football League, and then winning promotion with Bolton at the first time of asking last season.

Asked about today's game, and his reunion with Cook, Evatt praised Town's summer recruitment and said: "Recruitment is a key part of football because you are only as good as your players.

“What he has been able to do is recruit well at all the teams he has been at – and that is a skill in itself, it is credit to him. He gets teams and makes them gel quickly.

“I think he is a very good manager and I wish him all the best, with the exception of when he plays us, really.

“I’d have liked to have signed his 19 last summer! It does take time, people need that to implement brands and identities as we saw last season. Hopefully he will be given time and I am sure he will, and he’ll get them going.

“But for us it is about going down to Ipswich and coming back with three points.”

A barren Bolton run

Incredibly, Bolton haven't beaten Ipswich in a league game at Portman Road since November 18, 2001, when they won 2-1 in the Premier League in front of more than 22,000 fans.

Matt Holland was on target for Town that day, with Gudni Bergsson and Michael Ricketts getting the goals for the Trotters.

Bolton also won 3-1 at Town in the FA Cup on January 8, 2005, but since then they've failed to win in 13 games against the Blues.

Unlucky for some? We'll find out today.

Bolton Wanderers' Oladapo Afolayan celebrates their side's third goal of the game scored by team-mat

Oladapo Afolayan has been fantastic for Bolton so far this season - Credit: PA

Ones to watch

The man already being talked about as Bolton's player of the season is Oladapo Afolayan, a left-sided forward who spent the last half of last season on loan from Premier League West Ham.

When he signed permanently in the summer it was seen as something of a coup, and so it's proved, with Afolayan already bagging three goals in all competitions and leading the team in shots, as well as being the most-fouled player in the third tier.

Evatt said his new star displays 'borderline arrogance' - not that he's worried about it. 

"These really talented players have to have that borderline arrogance and it is borderline and there’s a fine line between overconfidence and the right arrogance," he explained.

"For me he’s on the line but that’s exactly where we want him to be because he’s a confident boy and he should be confident because he’s a very good player."

File photo dated 27-03-2021 of Bolton Wanderers' Eoin Doyle. Issue date: Thursday June 3, 2021.

Eoin Doyle has already scored three times this season - Credit: PA

Bolton also boast experience striker Eoin Doyle, who Town have to keep quiet today. Doyle raised some eyebrows when he moved to Wanderers having fired Swindon to promotion from League Two with 25 goals in the 19/20 season.

But it's paid off for player and club, with the 33-year-old netting 19 goals as the Trotters were promoted last year - swapping places with Swindon on their way back down into League Two.

He's already scored three times in nine games this season.

Jim Magilton's wonderful goal in the play-offs against Bolton in 2000 will live long in the memory o

Jim Magilton celebrates his hat-trick in the famous 5-3 play-off win over Bolton at Portman Road in 2000 - Credit: Archant

The Magilton game

No clash between Town and Bolton at Portman Road can be allowed to take place without mention of that extraordinary play-off semi-final second leg between the two sides on May 17, 2000.

Often called the greatest game ever seen at Portman Road, the Blues booked their spot at Wembley - and subsequently won promotion - after beating Bolton 5-3 on a night which those in attendance will never forget.

Jim Magilton scored a hat-trick to take the match into extra-time where, of course, Jamie Clapham and Martijn Reuser got the goals to fire Town through.

What a night. Let's hope for something similar today!



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