Bolton’s season has been little short of disastrous both on and off the pitch – and defeat at Griffin Park on Tuesday, which should more or less make us safe, coupled with a Fulham victory at Preston would leave them all but relegated to League One.
However at least the club has survived the threat of being wound up and is still alive, thanks to Brentford Hall of Famer Dean Holdsworth.
Deano became the club’s new chief executive last month after he and his Sports Shield consortium took over the Trotters – buying the club from former owner Eddie Davies.
Wanderers have won only four of their 39 Championship matches – none of them away from home – and have been in the relegation zone since the start of October.
Their four victories have come against Wolves (2-1) in October, Blackburn (1-0) in December and then in consecutive games against MK Dons (3-1) and Rotherham (2-1) as January became February.
Since then, they have failed to win any of their last nine fixtures – losing seven of them – and arrive at Griffin Park on Tuesday 15 points adrift of safety.
In the middle of March, soon after Holdsworth’s takeover, the club parted company with manager Neil Lennon and placed Jimmy Phillips in charge for the rest of the season.
He is being assisted by former Wanderers, and Manchester City and Sunderland, manager Peter Reid, who has returned to the club on a short-term basis.
If what seems an inevitable relegation does happen, next season will be Bolton’s first in the third tier since 1992/93, when they passed us on their way up.
They have spent the majority of the intervening period in the Premier League – including an 11-year spell in which they finished eighth, sixth, eighth and seventh in consecutive seasons in the middle of the last decade.
In that time, they also qualified for the Uefa Cup twice – reaching the round of 32 and then the round of 16 – and also won the Carling Cup in 2004.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Our visit to Bolton earlier this season was notable for being Lee Carsley’s last game in charge of the club.
With new boss Dean Smith looking on from the stands, and the match being shown live on Sky on a Monday night, John Swift put us ahead early on – but Neil Danns struck midway through the second half to earn the Trotters a point.
Our trip to Bolton in October last season saw us suffer only our second defeat in six league games as we lost 3-1.
Danns and substitute Mark Davies put Bolton in charge after the break and although Jon Toral replied with his first goal for us straight after coming on as an 81st minute substitute, Craig Davies sealed the win in injury-time with David Button racing back having come up for a corner.
Bolton scored two equalisers on their visit to Griffin Park almost exactly 12 months ago, their first time in TW8 for a league action for nearly 24 years, to leave our play-off bid in the balance.
Alan Judge set up Alex Pritchard to put us ahead in the 35th minute but Adam Le Fondre quickly equalised, only for Jonathan Douglas to restore our lead just before half-time after Andre Gray had hit the woodwork moments earlier.
Mark Davies earned the visitors a point in the 71st minute after a misplaced backpass by James Tarkowski.
One encounter with Bolton which is worth recalling is our trip to Burnden Park on Easter Monday 1992 when we were bidding for promotion to the new Division One (now the Championship).
A header from Terry Evans and an own goal by Nicky Spooner in the first half, after good work by Jamie Bates, set up a 2-1 win – our fourth successive victory – that took us into the final two games of the season hot on the heels of Birmingham and Stoke.
The famous 4-0 win over Fulham and 1-0 victory at Peterborough saw us overtake both clubs to snatch the old Third Division title and with it – promotion!
Bolton interim manager Jimmy Phillips has said his side will be trying to finally get their first away win of the season when they visit Griffin Park on Tuesday.
He told Wanderers PlayerHD: “We will be looking to get the minimum of a draw to get rid of that awful away record.
“Brentford got a good result on Saturday so from what we’ve seen from there, and from their game here earlier this season, they are a very good footballing team and they look to play it from the back.
“They stuck three in Forest’s net on Saturday so it’s a game we certainly won’t be going into thinking it’s going to be easy – but we also go into it knowing that if we continue the hard work we put in on Saturday as a group of players, and show more on the ball than we did, we go there with a chance of getting something out of it.
“As always, we’ve done our homework on Brentford. We will know exactly how they are playing, what formation they are playing, their strengths and weaknesses of their players and that’s something we will be passing on to the players and hopefully giving them a bit of a boost as to where they can exploit any potential weaknesses that Brentford might have.”
Former Bolton left-back Jimmy Phillips is in his second spell as caretaker-manager of his hometown club.
Phillips was born in Bolton and played more than 300 games for them in two spells – either side of time at Rangers, Oxford and Middlesbrough.
When he hung up his boots he joined the Wanderers academy staff and had his first spell in charge together with Sammy Lee and Julian Darby in 2012 after Owen Coyle was sacked.
He returned to youth team duties on the appointment of Dougie Freedman but is now at the helm again for the rest of the season.
Bolton could be fielding quite a youthful team when they take on the Bees on Tuesday.
Strikers Gary Madine and Wellington Silva are both out injured and midfielder Stephen Dobbie is struggling after suffering a cut to his head against Reading on Saturday.
Defender Rob Holding will be suspended after being sent off in that game.
Six players under the age of 23 started that match and academy graduate striker Alex Samizadeh was on the bench.
Jimmy Phillips told the Bolton News: “That’s a sign for how we are going to have to prepare in the future.
“We need that bit of youth and then the likes of David Wheater to create a good blend in the team.”
Liam Feeney had been involved in all Bolton’s Championship games (36 starts and one as a substitute) before moving to Ipswich on loan in the middle of March, leaving goalkeeper Ben Amos with 33 as the highest appearance-maker for the season still at the club.
Other regulars have been defender Dean Moxey (30) and ex-Brentford midfielder Darren Pratley (29) but 30 players have made at least one substitute appearance for the club in the league this season.
Drinking in Brentford
For Bolton fans crossing town, you are probably aware there are plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming. Colours are fine and there is no ‘bouncer culture’ on the doors of our boozers – not yet anyway. All fans are welcome and most fans usually cite Brentford as their favourite away-day which we’re quite proud of.
As is etched in common folklore , there were four pubs around the ground until a few weeks ago – unfortunately one closed down to leave only three now. The Griffin is closest to the away end (like 30 secs walk) and is very popular with away fans – but also very very busy. The New Inn is on the other side is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal is the other option (The Royal Oak was the one that closed down).
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) the … The Globe (Windmill Rd) is the Beesotted fanzine main pub – a very friendly pub indeed. The other boozer is The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) – both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and 30 seconds walk from each other .. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’. Boro fans and Bees fans had one hell of a party before and after last season’s league match in both these boozers (despite us losing)- and The Plough (Northfields Ave – 1 minute walk from the tube) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields before making your way down to the ground (normally stopping off at The Globe and Lord Nelson en route on the Northfields pub crawl).
Easily the best way to Brentford is to get the Victoria line from Euston to Green Park and the Piccadilly line from Green Park to either Northfields or South Ealing (35 mins). Northfields is preferred by fans in the know as it has a decent pub crawl run on the way to the ground (Plough, Lord Nelson, Globe). South Ealing has one posh puben route that doesn’t really like football fans so we won’t even give it a mention here. It’s 20 mins walk from either South Ealing OR Northfields to the ground or you can get the E2 bus from Northfields or 65 bus from South Ealing for the short 5 minute journey.
Some fans prefer to take the tube to Vauxhall then get the overground to Brentford mainline station. Depending on your connection time, this could be a slightly longer route as you could be waiting for up to 15 mins for a train and the train takes 26 mins to Brentford.
If you do take this route, there is also a pub right by Brentford station always referred to as … er … the Pub by Brentford station.
For ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman can probably hold 15 of you at a push. The Brewery Tap is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit the brand new boozer One Over the Ait right on the river – beside the bridge. Great views over The Thames. It’s around 15 minutes walk to the ground from here.
There are loads more too. A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many many more too if you have a look around.
Parking is pretty easy away from the ground going up towards and over the A4 Great West Road (ie. North) via Ealing Road or Windmill Road.