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This Week's Opposition: Bolton Wanderers

Photo Credit: Bolton Wanderers FC

After picking up back-to-back wins on the road, the Blues have returned to the top of the League One table. Next up, they face the side they leapfrogged, Bolton Wanderers…

It’s 1st vs 2nd at Fratton Park for a match that has been selected for TV coverage.

A win for Pompey would see them go 6 points clear of their opponents, who themselves would go top should they secure victory.

Let’s take a closer look at The Trotters…

MANAGER

Ian Evatt is at the helm for Bolton.

The 42-year-old started his career as a central midfielder but was later converted to a central defender.

Evatt began his career at Derby County and also played for Northampton Town on loan, Chesterfield over two separate spells, Queens Park Rangers and Blackpool too.

As a player, he gained promotion from League One with Blackpool 2006/07 and from the Championship to the Premier League in 3 years later.

Following the departure of Jack Lester, Evatt began his managerial career and was appointed caretaker manager of Chesterfield for the remainder of the season in 2018, which ended in the club’s relegation to the National League.

At the end of June 2018, he was appointed as the new manager of National League side Barrow. Evatt officially retired from playing after he came on as a forward late in a friendly match against former club Blackpool In July 2019.

This appearance was encouraged by Barrow’s social media manager, who announced that if their tweet got 1,000 retweets, Evatt would come on for the last few minutes. In his second season in charge, he guided Barrow back to the Football League for the first time in 48 years.

Evatt was appointed Bolton’s headIanEvatt_DEC2023 coach in July 2020 and lost his first 4 competitive matches in charge, the first time this has happened to a Bolton manager/head coach or head coach.

This had the club in their lowest-ever league position in their history, 21st in League Two. This then took a positive turn as Evatt led the team to five consecutive wins and was named League Two Manager of the Month.

After the departure of director of football Tobias Phoenix, Evatt's role changed from head coach to manager. Bolton finished the season in 3rd place and secured automatic promotion back to League One at the first time of asking.

In May 2021, Evatt signed a new 3-year contract with the club and in Bolton's first season back in the 3rd tier, Evatt led them to a 9th placed finish with 73 points. 

It was revealed in February of this year that Evatt had been given shares in Football Ventures Ltd, the company that own Bolton Wanderers, therefore making him one of the club’s minority owners.

Last season, Bolton were victorious over Plymouth Argyle in the EFL Trophy Final, thanks to a 4-0 scoreline at Wembley. A month later, Evatt signed a new 3-year contract.

His 3rd season in charge saw Bolton qualify for the Play-Offs, however they were defeated by Barnsley at the Semi-Final stage.

After 4 wins in October, Evatt was named League One Manager of the Month.

ONE TO WATCH

25-year-old winger Carlos Mendes Gomes is once again our one to watch.

Mendes Gomes has proven to be a tricky player to contain when faced against Pompey, following previous meetings with the Blues whilst representing Morecambe and Fleetwood Town.

The Senegalese-born attacker played for Luton Town in between those spells with the 2 aforementioned Lancashire-based clubs, though never featured against the Blues whilst with The Hatters.

Despite being born in Senegal, and having grown through youth football with Lanzarote, Getafe and Atletico Madrid, Mendes Gomes has chosen to represent Guinea-Bissau on the international stage.

Our focus would have been on former Southampton winger Dan Nlundulu, however he has been ruled out with a damaged hamstring, apparently…

TOP SCORER

Much like Pompey, Bolton’s current top goalscorer is a striker who once plied their trade for Accrington Stanley.

28-year-old Dion Charles signed for The Trotters in January 2022 for an undisclosed, however reported fee of around £320,000.

The Preston-born forward has 11 league goals to his name so far this season, the same amount as Colby Bishop.

Charles will be The Trotters player repping the number 10 shirt.

CURRENT FORM

The Trotters currently sit 2nd in the League One Table, 3 points behind the Blues, however they have a game in hand and a +3 goal difference. 

Their last 5 games have returned 1 draw and 4 victories. Their largest victory was against Exeter City, where they won by an incredible 7 goals to nil.

Their recent draw was a crucial game against current 3rd place occupiers Oxford United.

Ian Evatt’s side are currently still in the running for the EFL Trophy after a 2-0 victory against Port Vale. They also got through to the Second Round of The FA Cup, following a 5-1 victory against League Two side Harrogate Town.

Bolton are unbeaten in their last 10 outings across all competitions, winning 9 and drawing the other.

Who will prevail in this top of the table clash? Can the Blues extend their lead at the summit or will Bolton reclaim 1st place?

Catch all of the unmissable action when Pompey Live returns from 7pm on Monday, the 11th of December. Robbie James, Jake Smith and Leet Rutherford will be providing full pre-match build-up, half-time analysis and post-game reaction from Fratton Park.

Kick-off: 8pm!

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