The Grecians are back in EFL Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday night against Bolton Wanderers for the first time since 1993!
Ahead of the match, we take a look at three of the Bolton squad to look out for...
Antoni Sarcevic was named Bolton Wanderers captain ahead of the current campaign, having signed a two-year contract for the club in the summer of 2020. The midfielder started out his career as a youth in the Manchester City setup, before making his first professional appearances for Crewe Alexandra. After limited game time with The Railwaymen – and loan spells at Chester - Sarcevic eventually found himself more settled at Fleetwood, making 118 league appearances for the club across three successful seasons.
A move to Plymouth Argyle saw him clock up a further 116 appearances in the English Football League, and after helping The Pilgrims to a somewhat fortuitous promotion last season, Sarcevic was brought to Bolton on a free transfer. Since his signing, he has made 19 starts for the club already this year; scoring three goals in the process. Upon being made skipper as one of the club’s more experienced heads, Sarcevic believes depth is important for success in League Two: ‘for me, it’s a squad game … and the whole squad being together is only a recipe to make us win’ (Manchester Evening News).
A hard-working midfielder with a terrific engine, Sarcevic gives 100% commitment even on his off-days. Questions have been raised over his temperament at times, so it looks like our midfielders will certainly have a battle on their hands if they want to stop The Trotters skipper becoming a key influence on matters at the Park.
Whilst Antoni Sarcevic is potentially The Trotters’ most influential player, Eoin Doyle has been one of Bolton’s most productive performers so far this season, scoring eight goals and providing two assists for his new team. The experienced Irishman began his career at Shamrock Rovers, before being signed to Hibernian and then Chesterfield. Doyle moved for around the million-pound mark to Cardiff City but has since bounced around a number of teams, before arriving in Bolton on a free from Bradford City in July 2020.
This season, Doyle has continued his goalscoring record from last year, in which he netted a league-high 25 times for Swindon Town, scoring more goals than games started during his initial loan spell (23 in 22). In December 2019, he also became the first player in England’s top four leagues to score in eleven consecutive matches since Jamie Vardy.
Not one to dwell on the ball too often, Doyle has the highest percentage of one-touch-goals in the whole of the football league, and with most of his goals coming from the space between the six-yard-box and the penalty spot, our defence will have to be especially alert in the area if we don’t want him adding to his tally at the Park on Tuesday evening.
Once regarded as one of the brightest lights in English football – having shone in an England under-16s team that featured Jack Wilshere, Jack Rodwell, and Andros Townsend – Nathan Delfouneso may have struggled to live up to the wonderkid billing that was given to him in the early part of his career, but he still comes with an impressive CV having played in the Premier League and UEFA Cup for Aston Villa.
Despite the promising start – and a series of productive displays – competition for places at Villa Park saw the forward head out to earn valuable league experience on loan at Burnley, Leicester
City, Blackpool and Coventry City. In 2014 Delfouneso joined Blackpool, and scored three goals in 38 league games, before joining Blackburn the following year. After a subsequent loan spell with Bury, he joined Swindon Town in 2016, before making his way back to Blackpool in 2017 where he bagged 24 goals in 125 league appearances.
Arriving at University of Bolton Stadium in August 2020, Delfouneso has formed a strong partnership with Eoin Doyle at the attacking end of the Bolton line-up. So far, the former England under-21s forward has seven goals and two assists in 22 games this season, and his 62% shot accuracy and a goal conversion rate of 24% certainly shows the threat that he will pose if given the space to use his obvious qualities and experience of the game.