Match Preview – Cheltenham Town vs Bolton Wanderers: EFL League One Matchday Two
League football is back at Whaddon Road (or the Jonny Rocks Stadium to other fans) this weekend, with Cheltenham Town looking to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Shrewsbury on the opening day of the season as they come face-to-face with League One favourites Bolton Wanderers.
Ian Evatt’s side have been one of the most ambitious and active clubs in League One during the summer transfer window, with the capture of Carlos Mendes Gomes in particular one of the stand-out signings of the window, whilst Nathan Baxter has come in from Chelsea to replace Burnley-bound former loanee James Trafford, who was fantastic for the Trotters last season, with the goalkeeper now a £19m pound player.
Former Cheltenham Town man Dan N’Lundulu also returned to Bolton permanently this summer, having joined them on-loan from Southampton last January having cut-short his loan spell at the Robins, where he divided opinion amongst the fanbase. Nevertheless, he returns this weekend with Bolton who have been made one of the favourites to win League One this year, which comes as no easy task to Wade Elliott.
There was bad news for Cheltenham fans this week. Elliot Bonds, one of Town’s best players in the midfield, is out for two months with a knee injury that he sustained in the 1-0 defeat at Shrewsbury whilst forward George Lloyd was also unavailable for the game and has had to have surgery on an ankle injury. If it was not clear already, Cheltenham need new more bodies in, to be able to cope with the fixtures and deal with any injuries. Bonds being injured does not help Wade at all, as he is Cheltenham’s best midfielder when it comes to the defensive work, being able to break up the play and get the team moving forward. Yes, Curtis Thompson is the experienced option that can play in Bonds’ position, but the 29-year-old only made 6 appearances last season for Wycombe due to injury and falling out-of-favour.
The lack of options available to the Robins is a massive cause for concern, with the lack of service to both Aidan Keena and Rob Street last Saturday was alarming, whilst the performance of Ben Williams as the left wing-back indicates how big a miss Will Ferry is to the side. Many will argue that Williams and goalkeeper Luke Southwood were both at fault for Ryan Bowman’s winner last-time out in the league, but Ferry is much more of an attacking-threat than Williams, who clearly lacks confidence and has not played well since he got injured after having such a fantastic start when he first-joined from Barnsley.
Nevertheless, the focus returns on Saturday, with Bolton looking to atone for the 1-0 defeat they suffered here on a Tuesday night last season, with Ryan Broom scoring a late winner for Cheltenham in what proved to be a valuable three points. The Trotters started off their season comfortably with a 3-0 victory over Lincoln City, with goals from Jack Iredale, Victor Adeboyejo and an own-goal from Imps captain Paudie O’Connor wrapped up the points at the Reebok Stadium. For those that don’t remember, Adeboyejo scored the winner for Burton Albion against the Robins last season before moving to Bolton in the January. The Nigerian has formed a decent partnership with Northern Ireland international Dion Charles, who will know Southwood very well, with those two being the dangermen. Who can also forget that midfielder Aaron Morley will also be one to watch with his set-piece ability.
This begins the run of difficult games for Cheltenham, with Reading and Portsmouth to follow in the league. Games are coming thick and fast, but it won’t be easy.