There’s a party going on this Saturday afternoon at the Cardiff City Stadium and if you have a Bolton Wanderers away ticket, you have an invite. Whether you want to stay for the sausage-on-sticks, however, will probably depend upon the result of the preceding football match. Cardiff City, as we already know, are the Championship champions- win, lose or draw. Malky Mackay’s men have been as consistent as they have been unspectacular on their way to winning the title, but nobody can deny they deserve their newly crowned status. With nothing more to play for than giving the home supporters value for money in their last home game of the season, the manager has guaranteed no easy ride for the Trotters. On the flip-side of Mackay’s rallying cry is the mounting injury-list and bubbling temptation to blood the youth of Cardiff’s crop. Either way, the inexperienced, experimental or forced, unfamiliar team-sheet Mackay pits against Wanderers come 3pm must favour the away side. Dougie has seen and raised Mackay’s hand by stating he has some youth talent of his own to blood and may unleash them on his Red Dragons this weekend. Whether this is a bluff remains to be seen, but whatever the team-sheets look like come Saturday afternoon, a win for the Whites would keep their hopes very much alive for a play-off place. The question is: if Cardiff go 0-1 down during the match, how much desire will they have to get back on terms? The answer to this question will determine how many points the gate-crashers leave the party with.
‘It`s like a light switch, you`re either on or off… We must go and win. We can`t take any chances. The teams behind us could win. I know we`ll know the Leicester result but therefore the pressure will be coming from behind, and that hasn`t happened so far this season. It has been about us catching up. I need to approach the game in such a way that in the last 10 minutes I might have to throw a centre-half up front to get me a goal. At this particular stage of the season, wins are pretty much the only thing you need.’ Dougie fearing pressure from behind…the hunter has become the hunted. He’s going all-out for a win… good, good.
‘We must respect the division and other clubs. There is a lot riding on matches tomorrow, for Bolton and other clubs vying for play-off places. We will be open and transparent in the way we go about things, prepare as we always prepare. Just look at the battle for play-off places – and the number of clubs involved near the foot of the table. That makes this league so exciting. There are still challenges everywhere, at the top and near the bottom. For our part we want to finish this season on a high.’ I’m sure Malky Mackay means it but how much does he believe it? Time will tell.
Cardiff City Team News:
Leon Barnett has been recalled by parent-club Norwich, Nicky Maynard is still playing behind-closed-doors matches and Matt Connolly is still crocked. Oh, Frazier Campbell will be assessed but is unlikely to feature. We’ve still got to contend with Craig Bellamy, probably, so hold off the cheering just yet.
Player to watch: Craig Bellamy
It’s got to be, hasn’t it? The native Cardiffian will run, run and run some more if the result isn’t going the way of his boyhood club. Even if every other member of his team are dreaming of the Premiership, Bellamy will know what it’s like to be sat in the home stands. If he’s not bothered, they may as well call off the match and mail us the points, recorded delivery.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
The Whites will be without Spearing and Ngog for the remainder of the regular season. Stu.S.A may get the nod in Jay’s absence and Eaves is almost assured of at least a place on the bench with Ngog’s injury and SKD’s exclusion. There may be a place for young Zach Clough in the squad for the trip to Cardiff. Exciting times to be a Wanderer.
Player to watch: Dougie Freedman
It’s been a few years since our manager has been the ‘player to watch’. There are a few players I could have mentioned but I don’t think tomorrow will come down to any one individual on the pitch. Keeping 26000 home fans from caring about the result is going to be key in winning this football match. If the crowd don’t care the team won’t care. Cardiff are there for the taking and if Dougie plays it right tomorrow, we’ll be out the back-door with the points in the bag. No rash challenges, no silly mistakes and respect for the Champions’ supporters and Dougie will masterminded the desired outcome.
Match Facts & Stats
Bolton Wanderers have played Cardiff City 66 times in their histories. Wanderers hold a 34 win lead to Cardiff’s 21, with 11 draws. It’s the first time we’ve visited the Cardiff City Stadium so this is unknown territory for the players and fans.
This could be the easiest game of the season or it could be the toughest. I honestly think they’re there for the taking and if Dougie manages to keep the crowd out of it, it’ll be a stroll in the Welsh Valleys… 0-2 to the visitors.
As a kid, I always wanted Blackpool to come to Bolton. Not exactly what I had in mind but all the same… Blackpool at the Reebok for what could be a must-win game. I know you’ll be there…