New season, new team, takes a look at the five new sides to join Sky Bet League Two for the 2020/21 season.
Having taken a look at Barrow, the second team we are going to look at is Bolton Wanderers who only eight years ago were plying their trade in the Premier League.
ABOUT BOLTON WANDERERS
To most football fans, Bolton Wanderers are perhaps best remembered for the Sam Allardyce era when he led them to promotion to the Premiership and got the club into Europe for the first time in their history with a sixth-place finish in the 2004/05 season. However, did you know that Bolton have won the FA Cup four times in their history and spent a total of 73 seasons in the top flight of English football - the longest spell stretching from 1935 to 1964? In fact, the first time Bolton won the FA Cup in 1923, Exeter City's very own Dick Pym played for them in goal. It was the first FA Cup final to be held at Wembley Stadium and was dubbed the 'White Horse final' after a crowd, estimated at up to 300,000 gained entrance and the terraces overflowed, and mounted police - including a white horse - had to clear crowds from the field to allow the game to take place. Bolton won the game 2-0 over West Ham United and would go on to claim FA Cup glory again in 1926 and 1929, with Pym in goal.
Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers' legendary keeper Dick Pym
Bolton signed Pym at the end of the 1920/21 season for £5,000 which enabled City to purchase our current ground at St James Park. Bolton and Exeter City have only met 10 times in the League as the Greater Manchester club has, generally, enjoyed a loftier position in the English footballing pyramid than ourselves. However, since the days of Sam Allardyce, Bolton have suffered a fall from grace. They were relegated from the Premier League in 2012, they then spent five years in the Championship before being relegated amongst financial turmoil. Remarkably under the stewardship of Phil Parkinson they managed to secure a return to the Championship the following season and stayed up the subsequent campaign in 2017/18. However, back-to-back relegations would follow to place them in Sky Bet League Two for the upcoming season.
THE MANAGER: Ian Evatt
Ian Evatt in a discussion with the match officials at Barrow's game with Torquay last season
At the age of 38, Ian Evatt is one of the younger managers in Sky Bet League Two for the upcoming season. He had a caretaker spell in charge of Chesterfield, but that ended with the Spireites relegation from the Football League. In June 2018, he was appointed as manager of Barrow and guided them back to the Football League in his second season in charge, with them finishing six points ahead of second-place Harrogate Town when the National League campaign was curtailed due to the Coronavirus pandemic. In the June, Bolton agreed a compensation package with Barrow and Evatt's appointment at the club was confirmed on July 1. His first action as Bolton manager was to give a new contract to recently released Ali Crawford, and his first signing was the leading goalscorer of the 2019/20 EFL League Two season, Eoin Doyle.
The dangerman: Eoin Doyle
Nicknamed the Ginger Pele by Swindon Town fans last season, Eoin Doyle has already proven that he can be prolific at Sky Bet League Two level. The Dublin-born striker was the division's top scorer, with 21 goals, when he helped Chesterfield to promotion from League Two in 2014/15 and despite not netting in his first three games for Bradford City last season, he scored an incredible 25 goals in 30 games for Swindon Town to help them get promoted as champions.
Eoin Doyle celebrating his first goal for Swindon Town last season, at St James Park
He had initially joined them on loan from Bradford in August and scored his first goal for Swindon Town in a 1-1 draw at St James Park. However, he signed a six-month contract with the Robins in January and, after getting them promoted, looked all set to play for them in League One, until Bolton Wanderers came knocking and he made the switch to the University of Bolton Stadium.
2019/20 season in review
It was a season to forget for Bolton Wanderers, with just five victories and 12-point deduction for entering administration condemning them to relegation well before the season was cut short because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The Greater Manchester side finished 23rd in the table, on a points per game basis, ahead of Bury due to the fact that their close neighbours were expelled from the EFL in late August.
Bolton exited the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup at the first-round stage, following defeats to Rochdale and Plymouth, and while they made it out of their Leasing.com Trophy group they were beaten in the first knockout stage away at Accrington Stanley. They started the season off with 5-0 defeats to Tranmere Rovers, Ipswich and Gillingham and didn't pick up their first victory of the campaign until October 22, when they recorded a 2-0 away win at Bristol Rovers.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Bolton Wanderers 4 Exeter City 1. March 20, 1993
Exeter City and Bolton Wanderers were heading in different directions when they last met in March 1993. Bolton were battling for promotion at the top end of the Second Division and managed to pip Port Vale and West Bromwich Albion to the second automatic promotion spot under the guidance of Bruce Rioch. The 4-1 win against Exeter, was part of a run of 15 wins from their final 18 matches that season as they stormed their way from a mid-table position to second. The Grecians, on the other hand, recorded a memorable double over Plymouth Argyle that season but that was about as good as it got. Under the management of Alan Ball, we finished 19th and suffered second round exits in both the League and FA Cups. Steve Moran scored the only goal for us against Bolton at Burden Park that season, as they stormed to a 4-1 victory.
Head to head
Exeter City wins: 3
Bolton Wanderers: 5
Did you know?
That while Bury and other clubs around the Greater Manchester area are Bolton's traditional rivals based on location, in Sky Bet League Two next season they would love nothing more than to finish above Tranmere Rovers. Whilst there is 43 miles that separates the two teams, since the early 1990s the clubs have just rubbed each other up the wrong way and a fierce rivalry has built up between the two clubs and their supporters.