Bolton Battle Piles The Promotion Pressure On

I HAVE domestic stuff so just a quick one.  Stoppage time specialists Boro made hard work of what should have been a formality against Championship zombie side Bolton but kept plugging away and got the winner relatively early in Forshaw time (90+1).

In the end it was well deserved. And given the relentless pressure in the closing stage it felt inevitable. Jordan Rhodes had already put a strange slow-motion overhead kick against the post and headed wide and string of other efforts went within a whisker.

Boro showed desire and real spirit to come from behind and first force a leveller then a winner through sheer will power. It spoke of character and hunger and belief. And maybe a bit of good fortune too. And they are all parts of the promotion skill set.


But it shouldn’t take a goal (poorly defended and against from such limited opposition) to spark Boro into life. The goal was Bolton’s first in open play in five games. And that had a sense of inevitability about it too after a rocky 10 minute spell in which veteran warhorse and OAP Nemesis Emile Heskey played havoc in the box while fleet-footed rookie youngster Zach Clough ran riot just outside it.

That said, for all our own magnified perception of impending ‘typical Boro’ doom Bolton didn’t actually do much apart from that. There was one hopeful back-heel  that Dimi was well placed to save and that was pretty much it.

In contrast Boro created a host of real chances. Even in the laboured and sloppy first half Boro carried a threat. The bar is still humming after Stewie slammed a sizzler against it while a string of over chances went begging and Ritchie De Laet almost put a shot over the roof from 10 yarsd out. It was clunky, ragged and frustrating but Boro were on top .

And after a sluggish start to the second half and Bolton’s goal they bossed it again and built up a serious head of steam. That the pressure told and Boro got the winner was crucial. It maintained the status quo at the top and turned the heat up a notch.

Tuesday at Turf Moor is going to be another 96 minutes of relentless mental torture.

“Another emotional assault course of a game as our stoppage time specialists plunge us through another rollercoaster ride… “

Here’s my colour bit about how the intensity of the season is a cross between being brainwashed by a cult and suffering Stockholm Syndrome.  And why I’m loving it.



What we said before the game


BORO go to Bolton in the most one sided game of the season looking for a sixth successive win to turn the screw on their promotion rivals.  Top v bottom. Five wins on the spin against five defeats on the bounce – and with the opposition having submitted to the mercy killing of an inevitable relegation after a season of turmoil on and off the pitch.


David Wheater: subtle as a hand-grenade… Bolton’s best this term 

Boro haven’t won six on the spin in the league since 1991. They have done six a few times including cup games (especially early season with the old two legged League Cup games) including twice under Tony Mowbray.  But the last run of six successive wins in the league came in August/September 1991-92 as Lennie Lawrence’s side got off to a flyer in what was to turn out to be a promotion season, and when, incidentally,  Bolton caretaker boss Jimmy Phillips was a first team fixture.

That run started with a 3-0 Ayresome Park win over Newcastle (Falconer, Proctor, Wilkinson; att: 16,970) and then saw Portsmouth, Oxford, Watford, Leicester and Tranmere fall victim to a team playing with early season zest.  Two draws followed then a 2-1 home win over Sunderland (Wilkinson, Slaven; att:  19,424) Great days.

Anyway, down to business: it isn’t  easy to win six on the bounce at any level but Boro have to be ruthless and determined and play with intensity and hunger and passion and overwhelm Bolton and do just that. Boro should show no mercy and no respect and tear into them, get an early goal to settle any nerves (on the pitch and in the stands) and turn the knife as a demoralised side implode.  No messing: Boro need to win.

We are so close now. Boro are top but it is still very tight. Brighton won 5-0 so are in touching distance so we need to win to restore the gap . Brighton got a 93rd minute winner on Monday to claw back within touching distance and gritty Boro responded with one in 94. It would send out a powerful message if they were to follow the Seagull’s success with an equally emphatic victory. Although any win will do.

It  would pile the pressure on Burnley. A win at Bolton would open a five point gap  to turn the heat up before Sean Dyche’s bargain bucket side go to Birmingham. The rousing revival since the week when that thing that happened didn’t happen has put Boro back in the driving seat. We can’t stall now. Let’s rev up and roar to glory.

I’m putting the Vickers quids on 2-0 and 3-0 as usual but it wouldn’t surprise me if Boro get an early goal and then go on to run riot. It would be nice for Jordan Rhodes to get one. Or two. Or, what the hell, three. And it would be nice to give the 4,000 travelling fans a very rare treat of a victory at the Reebok. Or whatever it’s called these days.

Usual drill: predict the score, how the game will pan out, the weather (usually Baltic) and the crowd. No point predicting the soup: the administrators scrapped press room scran months ago, which is fair enough. Good people at the club are losing their jobs, I’m not going to moan about not getting pie and chips.



261 thoughts on “Bolton Battle Piles The Promotion Pressure On

  1. RR

    I wouldn’t wish such a sanction on any of our fellow bloggers. Even if my form warrants it.

    Mind you, if it means promotion then I may volunteer to go over the top..

  2. Sorry to go off topic here, and feel free to delete this post AV. If any of you want to see a Boro supporting, Lancashire exiled, campervan owning, Blog writing, Typical Boro reading, Tyke on TV, tune in to the Caravanner of the Year on BBC2 on Wed at 8pm. Just saying like…

  3. Paddy_M8.

    It reminds me of the last lines of dialogue from Quantum Of Solace!

    “…I need you back.”

    “I never left.”

    1. True, I think that was the lines from that but people movies can adjudicate. I think Daniel Ayala and Neil Bausor may have had a “face off” according to daily mail.

  4. Once again – Thanks Exmil.

    I will happily forego my place at the top of the Exmil table for Boro to be there in three weeks time.

    Boro 89
    Burnley 93
    Brighton 89
    Hull 82
    Derby 79
    Shef Wed 74

    (And this would just see us up in second place on goal difference but of course taking it to the final day just to torment us all)

  5. Here’s my predictions Exmil,I was pleasantly surprised to be joint leader. I think these are tougher to predict

    Burnley 90

    Brighton 88

    Boro 95

    Hull. 81

    Derby. 79

    Sheffield Wed. 76

  6. Congrats. Never… (and Suffolk..)

    Hope you’re as accurate for the next few games.

    Shows the value of going to all the games.

    “Who cares how many points you say we will get, it’s played on the field”

    I made last year’s Exmil Challenge as Blog Event of the Year in my New Year’s Honour”s List.

    What was great about it was that it was

    a) fun

    b) very interesting in that all of the expertise, bluster, judgments and opinions of regular bloggers was put to the test, and put into a league table, Fascinating to see how all of the regular contributors, and new ones did
    c) more exciting than many of the matches themselves,

    d) a testament to Exmil’s hard work and loyalty to the blog

    e) a testament to Exmil’s personal qualities and courage. He apologised for a delay in posting the league table owing to a recent heart attack

    Oh, and f) I won.

    Before having my wax wings cruelly melted in the heat of the current round.

    This year’s challenge is bigger, even better, and well in line to clean up at next year’s awards.

    Brill effort, Exmil.

    1. e) a testament to Exmil’s personal qualities and courage. He apologised for a delay in posting the league table owing to a recent heart attack

      Bloody Malingerer…

  7. From the Middle East –

    Burnley 91
    Boro 91
    Brighton 89
    Hull 83
    Derby 80
    Sheff W 76

    It all starts tonight . . . .

  8. No doubt AK’s comments will be posted on the wall of the Burnley dressing room.

    As if we needed to give them any further motivation…

    Win, lose or draw, Burnley can severely dent our automatic hopes through the simple expedient of having Barton put Ramirez out for the remainder of the season.

    Don’t imagine that he won’t- with Dyche’s blessing- attempt it.

    AK might have been better advised to confine his pre-match comments to a demand for strong refereeing.

  9. Well I ended up in mid-table obscurity in the Exmil challenge, mainly due to Brighton and Derby over-achieving on my estimates – though if at the weekend Brighton and Derby would have lost, Wednesday had managed to win and Boro had drawn – then I would have had an extra ten points and would perhaps have been clear at the top.

    Anyway, it looks like the play-offs are my only hope this time unless I take a gamble on a few teams.

    I did consider, copying everyone’s predictions into a spreadsheet and then calculating what was the optimum points for each team in order for me to have the best chance of winning – but then that would probably take too much time and then I remembered it was just a bit of fun!

    So here are the results of the Lower Saxony jury:

    Burnley 90
    Boro 94
    Brighton 91
    Hull 86
    Derby 80
    Sheff W 73

    And once again thanks to Exmil for his time and effort!

  10. Just a quick enter:

    Burnley 90
    Brighton 87
    BORO 93
    Hull 86
    Derby 81
    Wed 79

    I don’t mind where I finnish as long as Boro is top in May.

  11. Len,
    I agree that AK may just have given the Burnley team talk with his comments. It’s never a good idea to take an Olive Branch (if that’s what Dyche’s words were meant to be) and use it to slap the offeror in the face with it.
    I imagine that Barton will be chewing a raw steak in his pre-match preparations.
    Will he and Grant manage 90 plus minutes without seeing Red?
    I will be tuning out until 10.00pm as my heart can’t take any more stress.

  12. “Win, lose or draw, Burnley can severely dent our automatic hopes through the simple expedient of having Barton put Ramirez out for the remainder of the season.

    Don’t imagine that he won’t – with Dyche’s blessing – attempt it.”

    – Len’s words.

    It didn’t happen like that, of course, but now both Ramirez and Friend are on the treatment table. That is what I fear more than any dropped points.

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