Bolton Wanderers Dealt Potential Boost Ahead Of Play-Off Final – The Real EFL

Both Bolton Wanderers and Oxford United will be eagerly watching one another’s team news over the coming days ahead of the League One Play-Off Final.

They’ll both be trying to gain any sort of psychological advantage prior to the final, which is being played at Wembley Stadium this Saturday. Bolton will be expected to be the favourites, especially down to the fact that they put five past Saturday’s opponents earlier on in the season.

However anything can happen in a one-off final and Oxford will be confident after a gruelling 2-1 aggregate win over Peterborough United in their semi-final.

Bolton would also somewhat scrape through their semi-final and would just about weather a second leg Barnsley fightback to win the tie 5-4 on aggregate. That second leg would’ve really tested their character and a fair bit of pressure was taken off as a result.

Nerves will no doubt be high going into Saturday’s encounter but of the two, it is Bolton who have the stronger form. Ian Evatt’s side would endure a 12 match unbeaten run before the second leg loss to Barnsley and although that result wasn’t ideal, they managed the game well. Further confidence can be taken through the fact that they have not lost to the U’s in the league this season, winning 5-0 at home and drawing 0-0 at the Kassam stadium.

Oxford are also suffering somewhat of an injury crisis in the forward areas and have been without an out-and-out striker on the bench over the past few weeks.

Fortunately they do have Mark Harris in their ranks, and the number nine would score 15 times in the third tier this season. The club would however suffer a bit of a scare earlier in the week, with first team coach Craig Short revealing to the Oxford Mail that the striker had suffered a knock in training.

“I see lads jumping into tackles and I’ll shout ‘steady, calm down, be relaxed’, but they are.

“They’re very respectful and don’t want to hurt anyone. Mark Harris got a little knock off Greg (Leigh) and he’s fine, but your heart is in your mouth.

“They’re looking good and had a weekend off to prepare. They’ve had a busy schedule, and we’ll just do the normal preparation that’s been successful in the last few weeks.”

Although Harris will still be expected to take the field on Saturday its potentially given Bolton a slight psychological advantage knowing that the striker may be carrying a minor knock.

He’ll still be expected to play a significant part due to what’s at stake, and Harris could pose the Wanderers’ backline plenty of problems if on song.

Writer’s View

Harris will be expected to be the U’s main attacking outlet on Saturday, much like he’s been for the majority of the season. As a result, the defence may look to put some early pressure on him to roughen him up a bit.

It’s unknown if they’ll have a replacement, with it understood that Will Goodwin is now back in training but there’s no certainty that he’ll make the squad.

It further plays into Bolton’s hands if so, who will be quietly confident of their chances based off of the last meeting between the two clubs. If they don’t achieve promotion then it will be a bitterly disappointing end to the season for the Wanderers and there could be quite the overhaul this summer.

Latest news
Related news