It may have taken Bolton Wanderers a little time to truly find their feet in Sky Bet League One again but they are closing out their return season as one of the strongest sides in the division.
Boss Ian Evatt implemented a 3-4-1-2 system that needed to be bedded in but the Trotters have been flying since the turn of the year and certainly look stronger than their current 11th placing.
Since mid-January they have lost only three of 18 matches, winning ten.
They head to the Eco-Power Stadium as one of the toughest teams to beat in the third tier, with a plethora of late goals helping to rescue them from defeat on multiple occasions.
As last weekend’s late equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday proved, Evatt is driving his side to battle hard in every game despite their placing in the middle of the table with just a few games remaining. Their last three matches have brought 1-1 draws with the Owls, Portsmouth and title favourites Wigan Athletic.
In their last ten, Bolton have lost just twice, with four wins and four draws.
A solid defence is anchored by skipper Ricardo Santos and George Johnston, and has helped them to 15 clean sheets in all competitions. A total of 14 opponents have managed to shut out Bolton.
Oladapo Afolayan leads the scoring charts for the team with 11, with Sierra Leone international Amadou Bakayoko closely behind on nine. In total seven players have scored four or more goals this season.
That has helped the side post 17 wins from matches in which they have scored two or more goals this term. Their lone defeat when netting twice or more came with the 5-3 loss to Stockport County in the Emirartes FA Cup.
Troubles off the pitch in recent years saw Bolton drop into the fourth tier in 2020 but they bounced back strong under Evatt, winning automatic promotion with possession-based attacking football.
Bolton and Rovers have rarely operated in the same division, limiting them to 13 competitive meetings in their history. The Trotters have had the better of the head-to-head record with eight wins – three of those coming in the four matches which have taken place between the two sides since 2013.
Rovers claimed a 2-1 win during the 2019/29 campaign but Bolton took the honours in this season’s reverse fixture with a 3-0 triumph.