Ever since the football fixtures were released in June, I knew I was going to have a difficult time wanting to see Bolton Wanderers away as it landed on Valentine's Day. I knew my wife wouldn't be up for wanting to go to a football match on a cold, dark night, never mind on the most romantic evening of the year. Life though somehow has a funny way of giving you opportunities as Emma ended up having major surgery that day and was hospitalised for the following few days after.
Since my visiting time was limited to 7pm this gave me the opportunity (with permission) to take my mind off everything and relax with a football match.
Just for future reference, read your club ticket information before you go if you need to buy an away ticket, or Bolton Central for a home ticket.
Each stand is shaped like an arch whilst the metal infrastructure of the stadium blends into the lights, posted in each corner of the stadium. I was surprised even more at how deceptively small the stands do appear inside compared to the bowl stadiums which are common today, but the atmosphere and noise isn't lost which is important for the 'big games'.
The first half was very much a game of chess, with both sides feeling each other out tactically and trying to produce an end product from very little chances. Bolton were experienced and good enough to allow Rochdale plenty of possession in the middle whilst closing out space in the final third. This then enabled counter attacks on the occasion the Rochdale players were caught in possession pushing up. Still though the half time score was 0-0 and there were enough signs to show that Rochdale could do something here whilst Bolton were willing to patiently wait for their scoring opportunities.
Rochdale again couldn't break down a solid Bolton defence of Mark Beevers and David Wheater and it was the former, whom in the 82nd minute scrambled the ball over the line, or so the officials said. Bolton had finally got their goal and were comfortable and experienced enough to shut up shop. The time wasting tactics which came into play during the final few minutes wouldn't change the fact that Rochdale couldn't score a goal against a resilient Bolton Wanderers.
I question whether Bolton Wanders can better Wigan Athletic's performance in the Championship if they go up. Wigan afterall, have massive financial backing but are still far behind other clubs with regards to recruitment and infrastructure, but with Phil Parkinson in charge, it could be achievable to compete. Afterall, he's taken a mid-table League 2 club with a 16,000 fan base and turned them into perenial Play-Off League 1 contenders and Cup giant killers. If he is awarded the same amount of time at Bolton as he was at Bradfor City, they could sustainably reach the Chmapionship Play-Offs in several years time...but still, time will tell.