Saturday brings the last game of the season at Cardiff City Stadium and before City receive the Championship trophy they face a red hot Bolton Wanderers.
It is the Trotters’ first trip to the CCS and their first visit to the Welsh capital since their third division encounter with City back in 1989.
Bolton have been a side in form. They have won five of their last eight league fixtures, a run which as propelled them right into the centre of the race for the Play-Off places. They are currently occupying the fourth and final position on sixty-six points from forty-four games and are one point clear of seventh placed Leicester City.
Wanderers have however struggled on the road this season and have lost half of their twenty-two fixtures. They have only mustered nineteen points with just four wins and seven draws and only four teams have a worse away record including already relegated Bristol City. Dougie Freedman’s team also have the worst goal difference in the top seven with eight. This is largely down to their away form where they have conceded forty goals and scored nine less with thirty-one.
Positives for the Trotters are that they have one of the better records in the league against top half opposition. They have also only failed to score on eight occasions, a record only surpassed by title winners Cardiff City with seven.
Key Players: Bolton will be without the services of former Liverpool duo David N’Gog and Jay Spearing for this weekend’s tie but still have a squad oozing with talent and big names. Top scorer for the Lancashire outfit this season has been Chris Eagles who has not only netted ten times, but has got the second most assists in the league with twelve. With the absence of N’Gog there may be a place in the side for Marvin Sordell, the Great Britain Olympic striker scoring eight goals in all competitions this term.
A player who will receive an interesting reception on Saturday is Darren Pratley, as many City fans may remember the former Swansea player has history against Cardiff having scored twice in the South Wales derby back in 2009. He has only managed two all season but could still prove to be a threat come Saturday afternoon.
Zat Knight has made the most appearances for the Wanderers this season with forty-five in all competitions. He faces the task of stopping the third highest scoring team in the league, but could have the assistance of Welsh international Sam Ricketts. Ricketts has secured forty-eight caps for Wales since 2005 and brings a wealth of experience to the Bolton back-line.
Previous Meetings: There has been just the one meeting in the last twenty-three years between Cardiff City and Bolton Wanderers but since their first meeting back in 1921 it is Saturday’s visitors who have the better stats. The clubs have met sixty times with the Trotters winning thirty-five of times; City have only won twenty-two with thirteen ending in a draw.
Bolton could become only the second team to do the double over Cardiff with a win on Saturday, with only Peterborough having managed it this season. If Bolton win it will be their second double over City in a row, with them winning both ties when the two sides last met in the league in the 1989/90 season.
Last Meeting: Bolton Wanderers 2–1 Cardiff City (03/11/2012)
Craig Noone opened the scoring after forty minutes but it wouldn’t be enough as City went down 2-1 to Dougie Freedman’s Bolton.
Noone had given City the lead just before half time when the defence failed to clear a Peter Whittingham cross, though it was two second half substitutes that would secure Bolton the points.
Kim Bo-Kyung was harshly judged to have tripped David N’Gog in the area after the break, which allowed fellow substitute Martin Petrov to fire home from the penalty after sixty-four minutes. N’Gog was in the thick of it as he then netted one for himself ten minutes later and picked up a red card just before the final whistle to mark what was an extremely influential and eventful half hour stint.
Bolton Wanderers Line-up: Bogdan, Mills, Knight, Warnock, Ricketts, Eagles, Andrews, M Davies, Pratley (Petrov), Lee (Ream), K Davies (Ngog). Subs not used: Lynch, Spearing, Afobe, Sordell.
Cardiff City Line-up: Marshall, Taylor, Hudson, Turner, Connolly, Whittingham, Cowie, Kim (Gunnarsson), Noone, Mason (Frei), Helguson (Gestede). Subs not used: Lewis, McNaughton, Kiss, Conway.