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“It’s amazing how quickly we’ve fallen, but we’re definitely better at the chase than leading from the front.” (Q&A)

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Ahead of today’s match versus Bolton Wanderers at Sincil Bank in League One, which will be refereed by Neil Hair, we have done a Q&A with one of their supporters. Thank you to Chris from Burnden Aces for answering our questions!

NEW QUIZ: How much can you remember from the match at home versus Bolton Wanderers last season? Have a go at the quiz at the bottom of the page or simply CLICK HERE (opens in a new window)!

Match Thread: Lincoln City v Bolton Wanderers

How long have you supported Bolton Wanderers?

At the risk of repeating myself for anybody who read my answers before our opening-day fixture, I’ll keep this one a bit shorter.

My first game was back in April 1997 – my eighth birthday – and this season represents my 23rd campaign as a season-ticket holder across all four divisions.

What were and now are your hopes and expectations for the 2023/24 season?

Automatic promotion was on the minds of many, but my expectations were a little more reserved by aiming for another season with Play-Off qualification.

We topped the table for a few days at the start of the month, only to lose it due to involvement in the FA Cup, before losing back-to-back – including a game at Portsmouth.

It’s amazing how quickly we’ve fallen, but we’re definitely better at the chase than leading from the front.

At this stage, winning our game in hand would put us in the top two, but I’m still not convinced. We’re currently scheduled to play Saturday-Tuesday for five or six consecutive weeks through February and March. That run will make or break us.

What are your views on your manager?

Ian Evatt clocked up his 100th win as Bolton boss on Saturday – the first to do so since Sam Allardyce, and quicker than anyone before him.

Sure, we can point to others having done it in higher divisions, but we are where we are. Given the mess he walked in to back in 2020, to boast a win record in excess of 50% over three-and-a-half years is remarkable.

Style of play and tactics – direct/passing/hybrid?

As explained at the start of the season, personnel may have changed but our style of play hasn’t.

We are definitely a ‘hybrid’. Our central defenders usually have, by far, the highest pass completion in every game, but pinging diagonals out to our wing-backs is what brings most of our success.

Bolton recently broke their record for most goals scored in a calendar year, after also going close last season. We’re doing something right.

One(s) to watch now and in the future?

I picked out Carlos Mendes Gomes and Paris Maghoma at the start of the season, but neither has really got going on a consistent basis.

Mendes Gomes has been restricted to substitute appearances, whilst also being injured for quite a lengthy spell, and will also jet out to the Africa Cup of Nations after the Boxing Day game.

As for Maghoma – he has shown flashes of brilliance, scoring some important goals, but really lacks the consistency Brentford will be hoping for when he reports back at the end of his loan spell next summer.

To provide a different name – George Thomason opted to remain at the club last summer, despite them accepting a £1million offer from Bristol City. He’s really started to earn his place in the team in recent weeks. The only reason I’d expect him to miss out is perhaps due to squad rotation.

Random fact about your Club?

Bolton are one of only two clubs to have played in the top-four tiers of English football in two different home stadiums – Burnden Park and Toughsheet Community Stadium.

The other is Huddersfield Town.

Which were your favourite and least favourite matches involving Bolton Wanderers?

I can’t really alter my answers from last time, so:

Best – 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest on the final day of 2017/18, scoring twice in the final five minutes to avoid relegation during a time of serious financial turmoil.

Worst – Three consecutive 5-0 defeats at the start of 2019/20, with a team full of scholars and a court case pending regarding the very existence of the club.

Which sides do you think will finish in the top six and bottom four?

I don’t expect the top-six to alter all that much, other than current positions.

Barnsley and Blackpool, provided they can stop Jordan Rhodes being recalled by Huddersfield, will be the two most likely to sneak in – with Oxford United and Stevenage everyone’s favourites to drop out.

Peterborough United and Derby County have picked up some serious form in recent weeks, but we’re not long off a run of eight consecutive wins (10 in 11) so you wouldn’t want to rule out Bolton just yet, either.

As for the bottom – only Carlisle United are there from my picks last summer and another – Stevenage – are currently in the Play-Off places. I’ll pass on this occasion!

What are your thoughts on Lincoln City?

As I said earlier in the campaign, Lincoln seem to just go about their business quietly.

Looking at the table, from the outside it looks like you’re solid enough defensively but lack a clinical edge. 9th place is very respectable at the midway point of the season and I would suspect it’s probably the ceiling given the clubs (and current gap) above you.

If you could steal one Lincoln player for your team, who would it be and why?

I picked out Ethan Hamilton, Tyler Walker and Lukas Jensen – all former Bolton players – ahead of the opening day.

Hamilton and Jensen seems to be having good seasons, but I’m not sure who they’d make the team if they returned to Wanderers.

Daniel Mandrouiu seems to be hitting a bit of form and we’ve dipped into the Irish market – Northern and Republic – quite often under Evatt’s stewardship, but I’d need to cast a thorough eye on him before deciding whether it’s just a purple patch or not.

What is your prediction for this match?

No disrespect intended, but this is a game we really need to be winning if we’re serious about promotion.

Derby, Barnsley, Stevenage, Peterborough, Portsmouth have all taken points from you this season and we won 3-0 in the reverse fixture. We need this one, but the Christmas fixtures often throw up problems.

The referee, Neil Hair, will be officiating this fixture for the third time. Have you got any thoughts on him?

A man with a poor reputation amongst Wanderers supporters, brought on by his performance in a game at Tranmere Rovers during the COVID season.

His failure to send off a Tranmere defender for a professional foul – which he didn’t even give – then dismiss one of ours a minute later for a challenge which left one of our players requiring ear surgery, caused Evatt to follow and an official complaint made to the EFL.

Our record in games refereed by Hair isn’t actually all that bad, but he always seems to be the one making headlines. Hopefully, he’ll leave that to the players this time around.

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