Nothing has gone right for Brentford recently – but if one of the longest current scoreless sequences by a striker ends this Saturday, then we will know we really are in trouble.
Former Brentford striker Clayton Donaldson, top scorer for two seasons including the year we went up to the Championship when he was also ever-present, has not found the net in his last 28 League and Cup appearances for either the Trotters – or Sheffield United, whom he left in the summer.
We know all about Clayton’s finishing power so knowing our luck, his poor run will probably end at Griffin Park on Saturday.
Bolton are struggling at the moment but actually made a reasonable start to the season and were 14th after beating Derby 1-0 at the end of September.
However, since then they have not won in 12 Championship matches and have plummeted from 14th to 23rd in the table.
They do have a better away than home record with 10 points picked up on their travels – from two wins and four draws – as opposed to eight at home from two wins and two draws.
Add their form to their well-publicised off-the-field problems, and it’s a difficult time at the newly-renamed University of Bolton Stadium at the moment.
The players were not paid their November wages until nearly the middle of this month and the squad went on strike in the summer, forcing the cancellation of some pre-season friendlies, after they were not paid.
Last season, the Trotters finished 21st in the table – avoiding relegation straight back to League One by two points on the final day of the season.
They had spent a solitary season back in the third tier, for the first time since 1992/93, being promoted as runners-up Sheffield United, following relegation in 2016.
That ended a four-year spell in the Championship, which came after 11 straight years in the Premier League, during which they finished eighth, sixth, eight, seventh in consecutive seasons.
WHO’S IN CHARGE
Phil Parkinson took over as Bolton manager in the summer of 2016 to replace Neil Lennon, who had left towards the end of the previous season.
Parkinson left Bradford City after five years in charge – having led them to promotion via the League Two play-offs and the Capital One Cup final in 2013, as well as a famous fourth round FA Cup victory at Chelsea two years later.
He started his managerial career with Colchester, pipping us to automatic promotion from League One in 2006, and has also managed Hull and Charlton.
As a player, he made more than 500 senior appearances for Bury and Reading, where he had an 11-year spell.
WE’VE MET BEFORE
Brentford have had the better of our six Championship meetings with Bolton, having won three games and only lost once.
The 2014/15 season was the Trotters’ best so far against us as they won 3-1 at the then Macron Stadium and drew 2-2 at Griffin Park.
In the first match, which was goalless at half-time, Neil Danns and Mark Davies put Bolton on top before Jon Toral replied to give us hope, only for Craig Davies to clinch the points in the sixth minute of stoppage time, after David Button was stranded upfield following a Bees corner.
In the return, we twice took the lead in an eight-minute first-half spell through Alex Pritchard and Jonathan Douglas. Adam Le Fondre hit the Trotters’ first equaliser and Mark Davies grabbed their second-half equaliser.
The following season, John Swift gave us an early lead in a televised Monday night game which was Lee Carsley’s last match in charge – but, with new manager Dean Smith watching on from the stands, Neil Danns equalised in the 65th minute.
In the Tuesday night return in early April, we raced into a 3-0 half-time lead thanks to two goals from Lasse Vibe and an early strike from Nico Yennaris, with Zach Clough converting a 70th-minute penalty in reply.
The Bees finally picked up our first win of last season with a 3-0 victory in Lancashire in September, thanks to three superb goals.
Yoann Barbet’s brilliant free-kick gave us a first half lead and long-range strikes from Nico Yennaris and Ollie Watkins completed the victory.
The return took place in early January and a goal in each half from Florian Jozefzoon and Neal Maupay gave us a 2-0 win and extended our unbeaten home league run to 13 games.
Q – Bolton have had many off-the-field problems this season with late payment of wages being one of them – can you tell us what the latest position is please?
A – The latest situation is that all the Bolton players and staff have now been paid.
Wanderers recently issued this statement: “Bolton Wanderers Football Club can confirm that all outstanding salaries for its coaching and playing staff have been paid. Bolton Wanderers’ owner and chairman Ken Anderson will personally fund the outstanding salaries.”
Q – What are the prospects for January – will the club have to sell players or is there a chance of any investment in the squad?
A – Difficult to assess what happens in January regarding incoming or outgoing players, but like all clubs I’m pretty sure they’ll be looking at the possibilities of recruiting additions to their current squad.
Q – How do you feel about Bolton’s chances of pulling away from the bottom of the table and avoiding relegation this season?
A – Let’s see what happens when the window opens. The manager has recently suggested that the current squad maybe lack a bit of quality, but they certainly don’t lack effort and endeavour, they do however need a break, and the sooner the better.
Wanderers are doing it tough at the moment,but remember last season they only took two points from their first 11 games,and they still managed to retain their Championship status.
At the halfway stage last season (as we will be on Saturday) Bolton had 19 points. Wanderers then went on to win three of their next four matches, and they’ll be hoping for something similar this time around.
If they can manage to put together a couple of back-to-back wins the whole picture changes, but as we all know the Championship is an unforgiving league.
Q – Bolton started the season reasonably and were 14th after beating Derby at the end of September – what has gone wrong since then?
A – Unfortunately they haven’t been able to continue their early season form, but come the end of the campaign who knows how valuable those early results could prove to be.
Q – Former Brentford striker Clayton Donaldson hasn’t scored in his last 28 league and cup games – how is he playing and surely he’s odds-on to break his drought on Saturday?!
A – Could be an interesting afternoon for former Brentford striker Clayton Donaldson if he gets on the field. Football is littered with illustrations of strikers scoring against their previous teams. Here’s hoping !
Q – Who are the key players Bees fans should watch out for?
A – Sammy Ameobi is now free from suspension, and is more than capable of causing opposing teams problems, and Bolton are long overdue a win.
It’s been a challenging few months for the Wanderers supporters- who by the way deserve a special mention in my view. Overall they’ve been unwavering in what have been arduous times.
Q – What style of play should we expect to see from Bolton?
A – Bolton usually apply a high pressing game an approach, and system which has proved successful in the past, and they’re long overdue the bounce of the ball, and a bit of luck going in their favour.
PUBS IN BRENTFORD AND TRAVEL NEWS
For Bolton fans coming to the game, you are probably aware there plenty of pub options pre-match and all are most welcoming and away-fan-friendly (as it should be).
As you are probably well aware, Brentford is well known for its four pubs – one on each corner of the ground.
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 and is also popular with away fans. The Princess Royal and the Royal Oak are the other options.
Other pubs slightly further afield for the more creative amongst you include (and this is by no means a definitive list) …. The Globe (Windmill Rd) & The Lord Nelson (Enfield Rd) are both incredibly friendly and cosy away-friendly pubs and about 1 min walk from each other …. frequented by ‘away fans in the know’.
The Plough (Northfields Ave) in Northfields is a decent stop-off if you are coming by tube to Northfields. The ‘Northfields run’ makes a much better pub crawl route than South Ealing – getting off at Northfields station, turning left and stopping off at The Plough (2 min walk), The Lord Nelson (10 min walk from The Plough) & The Globe (1 min walk from The Nelson) en-route before ending up at The Griffin (8 min walk from The Globe) by the away turnstiles.
There’s also a relatively new tiny microbrewery pub in Northfields called The Owl and The Pussycat (Northfields Ave)– right turn out of the station away from the ground as opposed to left.
And another new pub worth checking out is The Black Dog Beer House, formerly The Albany, on Albany Road.
There is a pub right by Brentford mainline station referred to as … the Pub by Brentford station.
For real ale head to the Magpie and Crown pub on Brentford High Street. The Royal Horseguardsman (Ealing Road) can probably hold 15 of you at a push.
The Brewery Tap (Catherine Wheel Road) is a cosy boozer by the river. And if you are super-adventurous, get off at Kew Bridge and visit One Over the Ait (Kew Bridge Road) – a spacious boozer right next to Kew Bridge, and across from the site of the Bees’ new stadium at Lionel Road, with a deck overlooking the river – and The Express Tavern (Kew Bridge Road) – an ale pub with a retro feel. There are a load more pubs in the river in Kew if that takes your fancy.
A quick Google search and you’ll find them all. There are many, many more too if you have a look around.
Parking near the stadium is a no no but is pretty easy in the streets north of Griffin Park on the other side of the A4 Great West Rd via Ealing Road or Windmill Road. Make sure you look our for the parking signs which change from area to area.
THERE IS MAJOR DISRUPTION TO RAIL ROUTES AGAIN THIS SATURDAY
Another South Western Railways striker means there will only be one Overground train an hour to Brentford on Saturday.
By tube, it’s 35 minutes to South Ealing or Northfields stations from King’s Cross or Euston (less from Paddington) and then 15 minutes walk to Griffin Park from there (4 mins on the bus) – more if you take the Northfields to Brentford
You can check out Transport for London’s guide to travel on the Tube and Overground.
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