Wanderers finish the 2017/18 campaign at Macron Stadium on Sunday afternoon looking to beat the drop, bwfc.co.uk highlights five talking points ahead of Saturday’s Sky Bet Championship clash against Nottingham Forest.
1. Last day of the season
It’s been a long season and one that kicked off at Macron Stadium in August with a narrow defeat to Leeds United, and the 2017/18 campaign will come to a close in BL6 with Nottingham Forest the visitors. Aitor Karanka’s side make the trip from the East Midlands having already secured their Sky Bet Championship status and will be playing without any pressure or anything to play for at either end of the table. Forest have won just five times on their travels this season and will be looking for a sixth maximum, although Wanderers’ home form this season has been a saving grace alongside the worst away form in the league. Phil Parkinson’s men have won eight times on their own patch and have to try and secure win number nine at Macron Stadium.
2. Relegation battle
It’s no secret that Wanderers are in the thick of a relegation battle and to put it frankly, need to beat Nottingham Forest to stand a chance of survival. With an unfavourable goal difference, a draw would not realistically be enough to drag Phil Parkinson’s men out of the drop zone. With Sunderland already relegated to Sky Bet League One, two more teams will be joining them in the third tier next season and the teams still in the unwanted mix and with the potential of being relegated along with Sunderland, are Wanderers, Birmingham City, Burton Albion and Barnsley.
3. Rising to the challenge
Wanderers have avoided relegation on the final day of the season before, but you’ll have to cast your minds back to the Premier League days and the 2002/03 season. Things looked bleak for Sam Allardyce’s men after a defeat at Chelsea, but after a win against fellow relegation candidates West Ham United and draws with Blackburn Rovers, Arsenal and Southampton, it went down to the wire. Goals from Per Fransden and Jay-Jay Okocha in a final day victory against Middlesbrough kept the team above the dotted line. Last season’s final day situation was very different, but there was still a lot at stake as Phil Parkinson’s men knew that matching Fleetwood Town’s result would be enough to secure a return to the second tier – and they did that emphatically with a 3-0 victory against Peterborough United. We’ve risen to the challenge before, and we can do it again!
4. Eyes elsewhere
After last weekend’s defeat to Burton Albion, Wanderers’ fate unfortunately left their own hands and it now means that eyes will also be on other fixtures around the Sky Bet Championship with hands together praying that two of the other relegation candidates slip up. Whilst hoping for a Bolton victory at Macron Stadium, supporters will also be keeping tabs of the events taking place at St. Andrew’s, Deepdale and Pride Park. Birmingham City are at home to Fulham who will be looking to try and secure automatic promotion whilst Preston North End take on Burton, looking to get a win to take them into the play-offs. The team who currently occupy the final play-off place, is Derby County and they play host to Barnsley. All to play for!
5. Off the pitch
Just touching on matters away from the intensity of the football field, there will be a lot going on at Macron Stadium aside from the Sky Bet Championship encounter which gets underway at 12.30pm. The Under-23s will lift their Professional Development League North title after finishing top of the table – David Lee’s men will also be hoping to have got a win against Nottingham Forest themselves, looking to take the National title at the City Ground on Friday evening. The first team Player of the Year award will also be presented on Sunday with publicity around the Sexton vs Fury fight which takes place on Saturday 12th May in the Premier Suite.