Bolton vs Salford | Friday 13th November 2020, 19:45 | Sky Sports
Fear not! It may be Friday the 13th but rather than quaking with fear at the possibility of breaking a mirror, mistakenly opening an umbrella indoors or putting your shoes on the table, put your feet up in front of the box and give Bolton against Salford a few hours’ of your time.
Sure, the international break is in full swing, but that doesn’t stop most of the EFL lower league clubs taking to the field once more.
In the case of Salford, it is their second appearance of the week considering they faced Rochdale in the excellently named Papa John’s Trophy in midweek, which extended Richie Wellens’ run to two wins from two, both in cup competitions, since making the move from League One outfit Swindon. He now goes in search of his first league points as his side look to move into the play-off positions, until 5pm Saturday at the very least.
Bolton have endured a tough start to their first campaign at this start since the late 1980s. Ian Evatt is still settling into the role himself having joined from National League champions AFC Barrow in the off-season. He has had 11 L2 games in charge, but just the two victories, whilst they saw their FA Cup journey end at the first hurdle to Crewe last time out.
Four points from their last two league assignments at home however could form the start of a productive unbeaten run for the Trotters, and they’ll aim to continue that on Friday evening.
Salford themselves remain unbeaten at home, which therefore immediately draws your attention to their away record. Whilst unbeaten at home, four of those six have been draws, and although they’ve lost twice on the road, they’ve also won two, so have just as many points away than at home.
We can’t necessarily call them a ‘home team’, especially as this’ll be Wellens’ first league away contest at the helm. He’ll ultimately want his new team to be playing how side Swindon team performed last season, when they earned promotion, but that’ll take time. Until they get accustomed to those methods then they may have to slog it out in the first few months, although two wins from two suggests that the new managerial bounce is very much ongoing.
Something Evatt will want his side to improve upon is their output in the final third. They’re ultimately lacking a consistency goal threat. Last weekend was only the fourth time this season when scoring 2+ in a game, and two of them came versus Crewe in different cup competitions. They remain just one of six L2 sides yet to reach 10 goals scored this season, and just looking at their squad you just wonder where the goals are coming from.
Compare that to Salford, who straight off the bat have James Wilson and Ian Henderson, whilst Bruno Andrade also has goals in back-to-back games. Salford lead 1.56-1.05 on the Expected Goals (xG) count, and whilst that may only be half a goal to some, that’s a significant increase.
At the same time, I’m certainly not interested in Salford at the 5/4 mark in this game. Just a personal choice of mine, but I don’t back EFL clubs away from home at prices of that nature. That being said, they are the more likely winner of the two. I am however much more interested in the 7/2 (Boylesports) on offer for Salford to Win and Under 2.5 Goals.
The visitors are still finding their feet under new management, whilst I can see Bolton looking to frustrate their opponents in this one, and pick and choose their moments to break forward. As they’ve struggling for goals, they’ll make damn sure they’re as solid as can be at the back.
Five of Bolton’s six L2 home battles have finished U2.5, whilst Salford have conceded only three L2 away goals, and I just don’t see this as the sort of game where they’ll batter Bolton on what promises to be a cold night at University of Bolton Stadium.
Bolton v Salford – Salford to Win and Under 2.5 Goals (7/2 Boylesports)