Jack Crosland writes ahead of our game against Douglas Freedman’s Nottingham Forest
Four games in, 1 point, 0 goals and gone for a Burton in the Capital One Cup. What a time for the biggest game of the season. Dougie Freedman`s Macron return is a sure fire way to kick start the season because, well, we have to score eventually!
It seems very early in the season to be talking about a make or break fixture however given the potential ramifications of the result, it seems reasonable to pinpoint Saturday`s game as a season changer. Firstly, let`s consider what a win would do for Neil Lennon`s ragtag bunch of misfits. Picture the scene: Zach Clough`s bagged a ‘trick, the defence has held firm, Dougie`s been sent back to Nottinghamshire with his tail between his legs telling tales of how they ‘controlled the game without the ball` prompting a party atmosphere in the bumper crowd. People might even brave Channel 5`s ‘Football League Tonight`. Winning the game would put Wanderers on 4 points from 4 games heading into the local derby with Blackburn with renewed confidence. Things begin to look a lot rosier for Neil Lennon.
If anyone can bring themselves to imagine losing the ‘Dougie Derby`, it`s a grim thought. Bolton lie bottom of the Championship with 1 point, 4 defeats on the trot and the bumper crowd heading for the exits leading to a bumper traffic jam on Burnden Way. The prospect of losing to Blackburn and heading into the international break with the exact record Freedman had at this stage in the previous campaign would be a very real prospect.
What are our chances then? Forest at home was also an early fixture last season, a 2-2 draw. The less said about the reverse fixture the better. Whilst injuries arguably provided mitigating circumstances for Lennon`s men, a 4-1 thumping at The City Ground was the best The Whites could muster against Freedman the first time their paths crossed. Saturday, however, is the first time we take on Forest on our home patch. Lennon`s home record has been good thus far in his Wanderers career and the Derby fixture was certainly a positive performance. With Dougie Freedman involved, however, predicting what will come out of the fixture is almost certainly going to be wide of the mark.
The additions of Wellington Silva and Francesco Pisano will hopefully lift Wanderers. Wellington is almost certain to start and could be that spark that gets the likes of Zach Clough, Mark Davies and Gary Madine firing. The Brazilian will no doubt add a sense of unpredictability to the attack. What is certain, however, is whatever the result on Saturday, it will have a big impact on our season.