Bolton Back to Europa S1E4 – Race for Xmas Number 1

Here we are again with the Bolton Wanderers, as shown in episode 3 we have made a good start to the season and find ourselves top of the league. The aim is to try to sustain this form and make sure we’re still there or there abouts by the end of December as January and February could be season defining months with the amount of games there are to be played. Lets not hang about though, lets get straight into the month of November review!

November 2020

Coming out of October on a 5 game win run following some much needed tactical changes, I wanted to try carry this form on and see if we could make an early breakaway from the pack, whilst teams try to settle in the automatic promotion and play off places. One thing I have learnt about the EFL League 2, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing in the league, if you’re not at the races you will be punished.

And thankfully in November we still showed the promising signs we had in October but points were dropped in the league amassing to 8 out of a possible 12 points. Again, the month had its fair share of cup games as we commenced in the FA cup and had our last group game of the Papa John’s Trophy.

In the league, a completely dominating 5-0 victory vs. Mansfield and it should’ve been more having 27 attempts on goal. The FA cup, a tournament I absolutely adore just due to the fact of upsets and the rounds where non-league clubs get the chance of playing Premier League opposition – a dream for many semi-pro players no doubt. We took on Altrincham who are a league below, some of the youngsters were used in Adam Senior, Ronan Darcy and Bright Amoateng with a few fringe players involved too. We managed a 4-2 victory to progress.

The Papa John’s trophy, after two games we were bottom with 1 point, Shrewsbury are in League 1 but a win and a favour from Crewe would send us through. As said in episode 3 this is not a priority for me but I couldn’t help myself at the same time due to the possibility of progression so we went for it and took a 2-0 victory and Crewe helped us out against Newcastle U23s so into the knockouts we went.

Back to league action, a 0-0 draw with Salford which we were lucky to get in all honesty but we take it as a good point all things considering. Against Stevenage FC we were back to winning ways with a confident 3-1 win, the team were using the wide areas effectively and the oppositions defence could not keep up with our pacey attack. A frustrating one vs. Scunthorpe Utd followed up, a wasteful performance and we were held at 1-1, we really should have won this game and this time it was a bad 2 points dropped.

FA Cup round 2 and we faced a Stockport team who were flying high in the Vanarama Conference, similar to round 1 I used some fringe players and a couple of youngsters. 1-0 up we were until the 73rd minute Stockport got a goal through some loose defending and really came at us but we held on for extra time. I didn’t want to go out and the board wanted us in the 3rd round so on came Crawford and Doyle with the latter bagging the winner. It wasn’t pretty but we progress. League wise it should have been a solid 10 points but wasn’t to be, I had to make sure that December got us back on to a win run.

December 2020

Eight games to play in December with seven of them in the league, there were some teams in there that we should be getting wins against but there were tough fixtures vs. Walsall and Carlisle to tend with.

In the league we starting with a convincing 3-0 win vs. Southend and a good enough performance to grab a 1-0 vs. Port Vale which was a game of few chances. Back to the first knockout round of the Papa John’s trophy, we took on Man City U23s. The media didn’t back us but the team proved them wrong with a 4-2 victory, which put us in the 2nd Northern Section knockout round. Still not a direct priority, we still looked to take some seriousness to the competition at this stage.

Now for the remaining five league games of 2020, we got what I would gauge as a good point away to Walsall who were in the automatic promotion places and provided a very good contest. Then followed two consecutive 5-2 victories against Cheltenham and Tranmere although I had started to notice we were conceding more, 7 goals in 4 matches wasn’t something I wanted to carry on.

A focus in training on defence didn’t help us vs. Carlisle who outplayed us in a deservedly 1-0 victory for them, we didn’t get going and a change to go more direct in attack had absolutely no effect. Then another poor draw vs. Morecambe (0-0), dominating the ball we just could not put the bloody thing in the back of the net, Morecambe really didn’t threaten us either just to add to the frustration. 17 points from 21 most would say is good going but Grimsby Town were flying and had made a lot of ground on us in the league.

League Table

11 league games in two months and a decent amount of points considering the type of league that we’re in, we were still battling at the top but we had lost 1st place to Grimsby who are becoming a league rival and really have something about them this season.

Both us and Grimsby have had blips in form but they managed an extra two points than us in December and made ground on the 4 points we gave up in November. However, the positives are the gap to third place is 8 points and a massive 15 point gap to 7th which is just outside the play offs. All things considered, we are in a very good position going into the second part of the season. Also our goal difference is the best in the league and very superior to those around us if it ever came down to that.

All in all I’m happy with the progress, just need to make sure we are closing games out and sorting out any issues early in training to ensure the team can power through any match.

DP FM Tip – If you identify a re-occurring issue during your matches, ensure you go to the training calendar and change the focus to the area that is letting your team down. For example if set-pieces are a burden at both ends you can put in place set piece training for a week or two which will get your team aligned with attacking and defending them.

What’s Next

Episode 5 will cover the big months of January and February which will be good indicator on how we will see out the season, standout fixtures are Crawley (January) and Salford (February) looking at the table but as we all know, so much can change within a month in this league so we need to press on and try to finish both months as perfect as we can! Ep 5 will be out on the 5th January, the drop time will be announced on our twitter closer to the release date (@DP_FMblog), hope you enjoyed this one and we’ll be back again in a few days!

Also while you’re here, the co-creator of DP-FM (Louis), is doing a crazy save called Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced where he literally starts from nothing….no really absolutely nothing. Season 1 has just been completed so start reading through with episode 1 to get you going right here

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