|Ipswich Town 0 v 0 Bolton Wanderers|
Saturday, 22nd September 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Town Face Bolton Still Searching for Elusive First Win
Friday, 21st Sep 2018 11:23
Town face Bolton Wanderers at Portman Road on Saturday still looking for their first win of the season with manager Paul Hurst believing that they have something to build on following Tuesday’s second half display against Brentford.
The Blues were thoroughly outplayed by the high-flying Bees in the first period and were fortunate to be only a goal behind at the break.
However, after a formation switch from 3-5-2 back to their more regular 4-2-3-1, the Blues were a different prospect in the second half with Kayden Jackson’s first Championship goal securing a 1-1 draw.
Despite still sitting at the bottom of the table on four points, Town remain unbeaten at home with all their matches having ended in draws and Hurst believes there have been pluses in all four of the Blues’ displays at Portman Road this season.
“I think all our home games have had a positive element to them, albeit they’ve been draws,” he said.
“Whether it’s a great start against Blackburn and a great ending, then a very impressive performance with 10 men against Aston Villa.
“The Norwich game, a derby, and although we were pegged back in that, I think everyone felt we were slightly the better team.
“And then the other night, a game of two halves in terms of the scoreline, but I have watched it back and maybe I was a little bit harsh on the first-half performance in truth, albeit people will say that the second half was miles better; we scored, we won that one 1-0.
“It was interesting watching and we always prefer it that way if it is going to be a draw, that [we’re] the ones that finish it [more strongly] and we had the chance with Kayden to have possibly won it against a very, very good team.”
Bolton, who are 15th, made a strong start to the season but are now without a win in four, three defeats and one draw, having lost 2-0 at Middlesbrough on Wednesday.
Hurst says the game against the Trotters, who have picked up most of their 11 points on the road having won two and drawn one in addition to the loss at Boro, will present its own challenges.
“Every game is different,” he added. “I think someone said to me after Tuesday’s game that four points from the week would be great.
“While I don’t disagree with that, there’s a lot of hard work needed to go in to make that happen and we certainly won’t be disrespectful to Bolton in any shape or form.
“We have to put a lot of thought and effort into the game and hopefully add some quality along the way if we are to get that victory and make it four points.
“They’ve got some very experienced players in there and have made a pretty good start to the season. I think they’ll be happy overall with the start that they’ve had.”
The strong opening few games was in contrast to the bookies’ pre-season view that Bolton were one of the division’s relegation favourites having escaped relegation by one place and two points in 2017/18, while off the field the campaign has started chaotically with administration staved off at the last earlier this month.
“I think it was the last day of the season they stayed up,” Hurst continued. “There have obviously been some issues at the football club but knowing Phil Parkinson, [his assistant] Steve Parkin and the staff there, they won’t allow the players to let that influence how they go about their business and do their job.
“They’ve always been difficult teams to play against, so I don’t see that being any different on Saturday.”
Hurst admits the Blues’ search for that first win hasn’t been helped by an inability to keep a clean sheet so far this season.
“I think the other night would have been a big ask given the way that Brentford have been going,” he reflected.
“The header we conceded, it doesn’t look much but it’s a great header from a player [Neal Maupay] bang in form and top of the goalscoring charts.
“That clean sheet is proving elusive, along with a victory. If we could put both together that would make for a happy manager.”
Hurst seems likely to stick with the team and system which impressed in the second half against the Bees.
That would see Dean Gerken continue in goal with Janoi Donacien at right-back, Jonas Knudsen on the left and skipper Luke Chambers and Matthew Pennington at the centre of the defence. Toto Nsiala is back after his three-game ban but seems likely to be on the bench.
In midfield, Cole Skuse and Trevoh Chalobah will be in the centre with Jon Nolan ahead of them and Gwion Edwards and Grant Ward starting on the right and left respectively.
Kayden Jackson will be the lone striker with one-time Trotter frontman Jon Walters again expected to miss out due to his achilles injury.
Bolton defender Jack Hobbs could be a concern having suffered a cut above his eye at Middlesbrough, while winger Sammy Ameobi is out with an ankle injury.
Earlier this week, right-back Stephen Darby was forced to retire having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
The game is a second long trip in a few days for the Trotters but manager Phil Parkinson says that comes with the territory.
“We’re in this sport for the challenges it throws upon us,” Parkinson told The Bolton News.
“Big clubs in the Champions League are competing all around Europe midweek, flying back and then will be playing in the big high-profile Premier League games. They cope just fine.
“And we have got players who can come back in and freshen us up. I thought the energy levels were good at Middlesbrough, even though it was a disappointment to lose the game, and we’ll go again.”
Despite their match on Teesside the following day, Parkinson and chief scout Tim Breacker were at Portman Road for Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Brentford.
“We felt it was the right thing to do to go and take a look,” he added. “We felt we needed to get down there and get a feel for what the mood was like.
“We need to do everything we possibly can to prepare for the game but physically the players have also go to be up for it. They have to be in the right frame of mind.
“It’s a harsh league and Mick [McCarthy] did a great job down at Ipswich over the years. He was a difficult man to replace, that’s for sure.
“Ipswich are down the bottom but we have to make sure they are still there on Saturday night.”
Historically, the Blues just have the edge, having won 19 times (17 in the league), Bolton 13 (nine) and with 11 (10) games between the teams ending in draws.
Town are unbeaten in 10 against Bolton, winning six and drawing four. Their last defeat was a 3-1 reverse in the FA Cup at Portman Road in January 2005. Since that game the Blues have won all five of the matches the sides have played in Suffolk without conceding a goal, all in the Championship.
The Trotters’ last league win against the Blues was the 4-1 victory in Lancashire towards the end of 2001/02 which all but confirmed Town’s relegation from the Premier League. Earlier that season, they recorded their last league victory at Portman Road when they won 2-1.
In January, Joe Garner netted an equaliser in the 82nd minute as Town and Bolton drew 1-1 at the Macron Stadium, the first Blues league game to end in that scoreline for 34 matches. Earlier, Gary Madine had given the home side the lead on 53.
At Portman Road in September last year, second-half goals from Skuse - his first in 29 months and his most recent - and David McGoldrick saw Town to a 2-0 home victory over then-rock bottom Bolton.
After a first period in which chances were rare at either end, Skuse’s deflected strike - only his second goal in his four years at the club - put the Blues in front three minutes after the break, then McGoldrick added the second in the 89th minute.
Saturday’s referee is Stephen Martin from Staffordshire, who has shown 14 yellow cards and no red in six games so far this season.
Martin’s last Town match was the 2-2 draw with Millwall at Portman Road in April in which he booked Spence, Stephen Gleeson, Mustapha Carayol and Martyn Waghorn and no Lions.
He was also in control of the 1-1 draw at Barnsley in March last year when Skuse was shown the game’s only yellow card.
Two months earlier he had been in charge of the 1-1 draw at Preston in which he booked two home players and no Blues.
Martin also refereed the 1-0 defeat at Leeds in September 2016 in which he booked only Christophe Berra and Kevin Bru.
Before that Martin was the man in the middle of the 2-0 defeat at Brentford the previous month in which he yellow-carded Adam Webster.
Martin also officiated in the 1-0 home defeat to Rotherham in March that year, in which he booked Knudsen and one Miller.
He also took control of the 2-1 home victory over Fulham on the opening day of 2014/15 in which he cautioned Berra, Tyrone Mings and Luke Hyam.
Martin also refereed the 2-0 home victory over Brighton in September 2013, when he booked only one visiting player, and the 2-1 loss at Bristol City in the January of that year, in which he showed a single yellow card to one of the home side.
Squad from: Gerken, Bialkowski, Donacien, Spence, Knudsen, Kenlock, Chambers (c), Pennington, Skuse, Chalobah, Downes, Edun, Rowe, Edwards, Ward, Graham, Roberts, Nolan, Sears, Harrison, Jackson.
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