Still very much at the forefront of the race for automatic promotion, a five-game winning run came to an end for Rotherham last time out, as they fell to a 1-0 loss at Accrington.
The Millers were undone by Sean McConville’s 75th-minute strike for the Lancashire side, which also saw the club’s record unbeaten streak brought to a conclusion after a commendable 21 league and cup games.
Indeed, Paul Warne’s men had previously tasted defeat back in August, but they nonetheless remain a point clear at the summit of the League One standings.
Rotherham had, in fact, been due to turn out again in midweek, but their fixture against Lincoln City was postponed because of several COVID-19 cases arising within the Imps’ squad.
Boasting the division’s most productive attack – averaging almost two goals per game – and also owners of the best defensive record, the South Yorkshire outfit have been promoted from the third tier twice in the past four seasons, so have a great deal of experience to aid them through the second half of the current campaign.
Their next obstacle on the long road back to the Championship sees Warne and company meet a side which they managed to beat 2-0 earlier this term, despite having less than a third of the ball and facing 19 shots on goal. They will hope, then, for a repeat of that scoreline on Saturday if not the performance.
Bolton will be eager to get back out on the field following an enforced break in proceedings over the past fortnight, as each of their last three games have been postponed owing to a virus outbreak at the club.
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Fixtures with Wycombe Wanderers, Morecambe and Burton Albion all fell by the wayside over the first part of the festive period, so Ian Evatt’s side may have a certain amount of rust to shake off as they face the league’s leading team.
While the Trotters’ training ground finally reopened on Monday, even Evatt has been absent with COVID-19, so hitting the ground running in 2022 will be a substantial challenge to say the least.
During his first season in charge of Wanderers, the former Barrow boss has managed to register just seven wins from 22 League One outings so far, and Bolton had lost their two most recent matches before being effectively shut down – picking up just one victory from their last five in the league and also crashing out of the FA Cup to Lancashire rivals Stockport