“An Early Goal Could…” – The Real EFL Pundits Predict Bolton Wanderers vs Barnsley

The first of the EFL play-off semi-finals will be concluded tonight when Bolton Wanderers look to take advantage of their first leg victory over Barnsley.

The Trotters eased to a 3-1 win at Oakwell last week and they are heavy favourites to secure a spot at Wembley later this month. Ian Evatt’s side were in the hunt for automatic promotion for the majority of the campaign and are determined not to blow their final chance of promotion.

In stark contrast, Barnsley limped into the play-offs. A dreadful run of form towards the end of the season saw manager Neil Collins dismissed with just one game remaining. This left them in danger of dropping out of the top six altogether. In fact, had Lincoln City or Blackpool managed a win in their final fixtures, the Tykes would already have been condemned to another season in League One.

Bolton had been preparing for this scenario since losing 1-0 at Derby County in March, although they were unbeaten in subsequent seven games before last week’s first leg. They’ve also been strengthened by a number of returning stars in recent weeks, including talisman Dion Charles. The Northern Ireland international proved his worth by scoring twice in Yorkshire.

On paper, this looks a forgone conclusion…

Here’s how two of The Real EFL’s writing team see the game panning out…

Jamie Ward

“Bolton already have one foot at Wembley and it’s hard to make a case for Barnsley. The Tykes head into this game with just one win in 10 and are exceptionally lucky to be here in the first place.

“Whereas the two league encounters between the two teams both ended in draws, the fear is that the gulf in class between the pair has increased so much that this could be a rather one-sided affair. They say a two-goal lead is one of the most dangerous in football though, and an early goal for the away side could change the whole complexion of the tie.

“That’s hard to envisage though. Bolton won’t take their foot off the gas and will ease to another comfortable victory to take the momentum to the capital.”

Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Barnsley

Ivan Newsome

“After a dominant performance in the first leg, the tie really is now Bolton’s to lose. They looked great playing away from home and replicating that performance will surely send them to Wembley.

“There was a ten minute spell around when Cosgrove scored where Barnsley looked rather dangerous. They’ve got to come out all guns blazing to get anything from this though, and I’m not quite sure they have it in their ranks.

“With nothing to lose, expect them to play on the front foot, but Bolton should have the quality to go through.”

Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Barnsley

About Jamie Ward 669 Articles
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