The television cameras have brought the best out of Bolton this season, which isn’t saying much, but the rock-bottom Trotters can at least provide stubborn resistance for the majority of the 90 minutes against a Hull side looking to generate momentum and belief ahead of the play-offs. Take the 9/4 available on the 0-0 half-time correct score.
The interval stalemate has landed in seven of Wanderers’ last 11 home matches, including an agonising 2-1 defeat to Middlesbrough in the Saturday lunchtime slot a fortnight ago. The Teessiders were thwarted for 73 minutes that day, and even fell behind to a Josh Vela strike before a late Jordan Rhodes double eventually fired them to victory.
It was a game that followed an identical pattern to Burnley’s come-from-behind triumph at the Macron two months ago. On that occasion, the game was goalless for 69 minutes before the Whites stung their promotion-chasing visitors into action when Liam Feeney broke the deadlock, Andre Gray responding with a quickfire brace for the Clarets.
Post-Christmas home games against Blackburn (77 minutes), Huddersfield (61 minutes), QPR (68 minutes) and Reading (90 minutes) have also been slow burners with a late breakthrough, while the last home game against Charlton went the distance. So Bolton clearly have it in them to make this a challenging afternoon for the Tigers.
The local newspaper on Humberside described Hull’s midweek victory over Brentford as "a match that was, for large parts, played at a pre-season tempo", so we shouldn’t get too carried away with the distance between these two teams in the table, nor the idea that the visitors desperately need to win for the sake of their finishing position.
The Tigers can only finish fourth or fifth, it’s a virtual certainty they will be facing Derby over two legs and, realistically, only an unlikely result in the Rams’ favour down at Brighton on Monday would prevent Steve Bruce’s men having home advantage in the second leg no matter what happens here. So the outcome of this game means almost nothing.
Defeat, of course, would serve a blow to confidence, and must be avoided, but a draw would be quickly brushed off without too much embarrassment, stretching the Tigers’ current unbeaten sequence to six matches with a home game remaining against Rotherham to complete any business that might need completing.
When viewed in that context, the draw over 90 minutes simply has to be backed at nearly 4/1. Bolton will be aiming to avoid a club-record 26th loss in a single season but just seven of those defeats have arrived on home soil. Alas, 11 of the other 15 home games have been stalemates, including visits from the other three teams currently occupying the play-off spots.
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