The View From The Opposition: Bolton Wanderers

GOALS from Aiden O'Brien, Shaun Williams, Lee Gregory and Harry Smith gave Millwall a 4-0 win over Bristol Rovers last weekend as they made it five straight wins in all competitions. 

This Saturday, the Lions are back on the road as they travel to The Macron Stadium to face Bolton. Trotters fan Chris Mann takes on The View From The Opposition.

Name: Chris Mann

Twitter: @BurndenAces, @BoltonWebsites

What made you support Bolton?: Supporting the club is something that runs in the family. I was born in the town and brought up just 15 minutes away from the old Burnden Park.

I attended my first match on my eighth birthday – a 2-1 home win over QPR in April 1997 – and gradually began to see more matches over the years that followed.

The family decided to purchase season tickets ahead of our return to the Premier League in 2001, and we've been ever-presents in the stands since. As with most football fans, I just got the bug and it developed from there.

As we discussed with our Bolton representative for last month's game, there is a plethora of ex-Lions at the Macron at the moment – Liam Trotter, James Henry and Mark Beevers to name a few (Beevers turned in an outstanding display in your 2-0 win last month) – how have they been getting on?: I think it's fair to say they've been a mixed bag.

Liam Trotter has been with us for three years now and although he's capable of some outstanding displays, we just don't see it anywhere near as often as we should. He's up against fierce competition in the likes of Jay Spearing, Mark Davies, Darren Pratley and Josh Vela, amongst others, so needs to take full advantage of his opportunities when presented with them. He's out of contract next summer, so it wouldn't come as a major surprise if these next few months are his last at the club.

On a more positive note, Mark Beevers has struck up a fantastic partnership alongside David Wheater. After the humiliation of last season we're now winning games and have the best defensive record in League One, which Beevers is clearly a huge part of. It's still early days but his displays so far, combined with him arriving on a free, surely put him in contention for signing of the season.

James Henry has struggled to hit the ground running. He's been in and out of the team, seems to lack fitness and perhaps just needs a bit of a confidence boost. His stats don't lie at this level – we just hope there's more to come. The same can be said of Chris Taylor, who has thus far failed to impress in a Wanderers shirt and has come in for some criticism from supporters.

The bookies expect both sides to be in the mix come May – how do you see the two faring?: I wasn't sure what to expect of Bolton at the start of the season. Off-field issues and a new manager aren't always a good mix. Promotion wasn't my immediate concern – I just wanted us to stop the rot and avoid following in the footsteps of clubs like Blackpool and Portsmouth.

We've exceeded expectations and, as we approach the halfway stage of the campaign, look good for at least a place in the top six. As things stand, that has to be our minimum objective but, as seems to have been the case for about five years in succession, we continue to be hit by serious long-term injuries to key players. Strength in depth is going to be vital over the Christmas and New Year period. We're approaching the time when we see what Bolton are really made of.

As for Millwall, I was surprised to see them struggling ahead of last month's fixture but you have recovered since and suddenly find yourselves back in play-off contention.

Last season was always going to take a while to get over, but there's no reason why you can't push on in the coming months and go one better than the Wembley heartbreak of last May.

Besides the ex-Millwall players, which Bolton stars will Neil Harris' Lions have to watch out for on Saturday? And which Millwall players will you be wary of?: We've already mentioned Wheater and Beevers, but I'd pick two other Wanderers players and I'd expect Neil Harris to be fully aware of their threat.

Sammy Ameobi produced one of his better displays at The Den and scored an amazing long-range goal, but the key threat should come from the obvious name of Zach Clough.

He's taken a while to get into full flow but October's League One Player of the Month appears to be getting there. He's adapted to a new role out on the left, which allows him to get on the ball in deeper positions much more, and goes into the game having scored five goals in as many league games.

Millwall were disappointing in our previous meeting so it's difficult to pick out any one individual, but we've begun to concede goals and will have a new name between the sticks on Saturday due to injury to our first-choice goalkeeper. I expect the Lions to try their luck early doors at the Macron, so top scorers Lee Gregory, Steve Morison and Aiden O'Brien could be in for interesting afternoons, if selected.

Finally, a score prediction?: Bolton have been consistent at home so far, albeit in largely tight contests. I expect Millwall to score, potentially early on, but will back Bolton to complete the turnaround to secure a 2-1 win.

Graphic: ©ShedCreative

Mark Litchfield