Weblog: The football punter

Baggies primed to add to shambolic Bolton's woes 

Sky Bet Championship
Sky Sports Football & Main Event, 8pm Monday

Bolton's financial shackles were loosened slightly last week with the lifting of a player registration embargo. But the club are still beset by problems on and off the pitch and their Sky Bet Championship survival hopes could sustain another blow with a home defeat to West Brom.

There was plenty of good news for Bolton over the weekend as their relegation rivals Rotherham, Reading and Ipswich all lost.

It leaves the second-bottom Trotters just three points adrift of safety which is remarkable given that they have won just one of their last 17 league fixtures.

Sky Bet Championship standings

Bolton manager Phil Parkinson would love to have added more quality in January but the opposite occurred when a deal to sign Forest Green striker Christian Doidge collapsed.

Doidge had been signed on loan last summer with an agreement to make the deal permanent in January but Bolton were unable to complete the agreement and the player returned to Forest Green.

For Bolton supporters it was the latest shambolic episode in a campaign blighted by off-field problems.

Last summer the club were unable to fulfil pre-season friendlies against Morecambe and St Mirren due to a players' strike and PFA loans were required in October and November to help cover their wages.

The West Brom game gives fans a chance to vent their feelings in front of a television audience but planned demonstrations are likely to play into the hands of the visitors.

Albion arrive in Lancashire with the huge incentive of knowing a victory will take them up to third, only four points adrift of leaders Leeds.

They have had a few problems with influential winger Matt Phillips sidelined with an ankle injury since New Year's Day and Leicester loanee Harvey Barnes returning to his parent club.

But there wasn't much wrong with West Brom's performance when they drew 1-1 at home to fellow highflyers Norwich.

On-loan Everton right-back Mason Holgate excelled in the Norwich game, offering a new attacking dimension with his pace and impressive delivery into the box.

And, although Barnes's departure is a blow, there is still plenty of potency in attack with 14-goal striker Dwight Gayle and 13-goal forward Jay Rodriguez among the top ten marksmen in the division.

West Brom are the Championship's highest scorers with 55 goals and their defending has improved with only four goals conceded in the last six games.

Automatic promotion will be their target and they have an added incentive against Bolton, who were shock 2-1 winners at the Hawthorns on the opening weekend.

Bolton built on that victory by taking 15 points from their first ten games but their early-season optimism has long since evaporated and they are the lowest scorers in the league with 18 goals.

Since the start of October they have taken seven points from a possible 51, five fewer than basement boys Ipswich, and they look nowhere near strong enough to match West Brom, who are solid odds-on favourites.

West Brom

The Football Site

Like on Facebook


Match in Focus

01:30 We 19Jun PREM

Brazil v Venezuela

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Brazil have conceded in only two of the last six meetings.
Expert verdict
Brazil are short-priced favourites to win the Copa America for a ninth time and topping Group A should be a formality for them based on the quality of opposition. Even without Neymar, Brazil have enough strength in depth to be a constant threat in attack, which was evident in their opening game against Bolivia with Philippe Coutinho bagging a brace in a routine 3-0 win.