Bolton – bravery and commitment needed

Before the Tuesday evening games, it looked as if Charlton might be heading into the Bolton clash on Saturday with a chance to catch their visitors and to push on for a place in the top six.

However, Bolton's impressive 4-2 win at Wycombe coupled with our lacklustre performance at Lincoln served to emphasise that there is still a long way to go before we can be considered play-off contenders.

Although they have lost at home twice (0-4 to Wigan and, surprisingly, 1-3 to Carlisle) Tuesday's victory was Bolton's third away win of the season, following their previous successes at Cheltenham (0-3) and Port Vale (0-1). The three points saw them comfortably into fourth place. They are the second highest scorers in League One with 25 in 13 games.

Our recent record against The Trotters does not inspire confidence. We have beaten them only twice in the last ten meetings and they have won the last four with an aggregate score of 11-4. We haven't beaten them at The Valley since October 2014 when goals from George Tucudean and Johnnie Jackson saw us home 2-1. Since then there have been two draws and two away wins. Two years ago we took the lead through Davison but were swept away 1-4 on a wet and windy night. Last season an Albie Morgan equaliser straight after half-time gave us hope but Dion Charles scored the winner 22 minutes later.

Charles wasn't on the scoresheet at Wycombe but is one of the leading goal scorers in League One with eight so far. Like Alfie May it took him a long time to get his break. Having failed to make the grade at Blackpool, he played three seasons in The National League North with Fylde, Halifax and Southport and he was twenty four before League One Accrington took a chance on him in 2019. He soon adjusted to playing three levels higher and, after scoring 19 League goals in 2020/21, he attracted the interest of Bolton. It was a shrewd investment as last season he became the first Bolton player for twenty two years to score over twenty goals. Our creaking defence will also have to deal with Victor Adeboyejo who has scored five so far and might be remembered for the thunderous goal he scored against us for Burton Albion a year ago.

Michael Appleton was critical of the team's commitment on Tuesday:

“Once the second goal went in, there were one or two players who looked like they didn’t really think they could get back in the game. I’ve not seen that yet, so that’s something that I’m certainly aware of tonight and I don’t want it to happen again.”

That comment leads us to think we might expect some changes to the starting line-up on Saturday. We certainly need a change of attitude if we are going to continue our impressive home run under Appleton.