The hotly contested recent rivalry between Morecambe and Bolton Wanderers will in doubt produce a fiery affair as the Shrimps travel the University of Bolton Stadium in search of the first three points of the 22/23 Sky Bet League One Season.
Bolton finished 9th in League One as they failed to capture much consistency and strolled towards a mid-table finish. This will have frustrated the Lilywhites as they had their aims set on promotion to the Championship.
The 73 points amassed was 10 off a playoff place and so the Manchester based side will have to push harder in what is undoubtedly a league with even more quality than last season.
On the opening day of the season, as Morecambe struggled towards a boring 0-0 home draw, Bolton Wanderers were once again putting their marker down on this league in a dominant 3-0 over playoff finalists Wycombe Wanderers. This impressive opener was dampened by a 0-0 draw at Port Vale where the newly promoted Valiants put in a sturdy defensive performances and matched Bolton to a man to earn a point. With them contrast in results, both Bolton’s scoring form and lack of a lethal finish in front of goal were both in display. This makes Tuesday’s game even harder to call as who knows which Bolton will turn up.
Initially, Bolton Wanderers deployed a 5-3-2 with a focus on counter-attack against promotion hopefuls Wycombe. This obviously saw success as they ran out 3-0 winners. They then changed to a more attacking 4-3-3 against Port Vale with the aim to blow them away, a system that ultimately produced no results as a 10-man Wanderers shared the spoils.
With Ricardo Santos’ early dismissal, Bolton will likely be forced to start a 4-3-3 again on Tuesday evening. Another notable absence will be Bolton manager Ian Evatt, who received a red card and a touchline ban for his protests at half time after Santos received his second yellow.
With the club’s stature and history, they will be looking to secure promotion to the Championship this season as they continue their voyage back towards England’s top division. This aim, however, will come with precaution as the quality of the league is higher than it ever has been. Last season, Plymouth finished the campaign on 83 points and still still missed out a playoff spot, proving the amount of team vying for promotion is more than ever.
Even though the teams have met only 4 times, the rivalry has flared over recent seasons after the teams have been fighting for similar places in the league. Crowd trouble from both sets of fans as last season's February fixture saw the game postponed for 15 minutes and subsequent the pitch invasion from the Bolton faithful after Bakayoko’s equaliser deep into added time saw the rivalry further exaggerated. Morecambe will be hoping to get one up on the Lilywhites for the first time in the history in the 5th ever meeting between the two sides.
Bolton’s impressive start with wins in both the league and the EFL cup saw them be highlighted as early favourites to be within a chance of earning promotion, however, a stalled performance against Port Vale means they may face more competition than they had first hoped. This being said, I do believe that Bolton have more than enough quality to overwhelm Morecambe’s defence and hence why I am predicting a 2-1 home win.