Behind the Stats: Bolton’s impressive League One title charge

Ahead of Bolton Wanderers’ second season in League One, bookies listed the North-West outfit amongst the top-five teams to earn promotion.

A remarkable achievement in itself after The Trotters reached the precipice of non-League football after a terrifying spiral from the Championship across 2018-2020.

The fourth-placed Wanderers currently find themselves at a crunch point in the second half of their league campaign.

A 1-0 loss on the road to Wycombe has pushed Plymouth Argyle’s automatic promotion spot out of reach for the Wanderers. Ian Evatt’s men now need to close a nine-point cushion as well as having played a game more than their rivals. Play-offs seem a shoo-in despite the recent dip in form after a nightmare February for Shrewsbury and Peterborough.

With 13 games left to play, a nervy conclusion to the season seems to beckon for the four-time FA Cup winners. A deep dive into the numbers behind Bolton’s success suggests that the Championship awaits in 2023-24.

James Trafford

Goalkeeper | 20 Years Old | 33 Matches Played

The 20-year-old rock between the sticks has provided an impervious foundation for Bolton to build upon. Trafford, a Manchester City loanee, etched his name into the Wanderers’ history books following the 1-0 victory over Cheltenham – breaking the club’s consecutive home clean sheets (8).

The towering 6’4” shot-stopper extended his record to 9 consecutive home clean sheets following Bolton’s 5-0 whitewash over MK Dons. Last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Wycombe was the first goal that Trafford had conceded in over 300 minutes of football.

Dion Charles

Forward | 27 Years Old | 30 Matches Played

Northern Irish international, Dion Charles, has hit the ground running in his full debut season with the Wanderers’. Signed on a three-and-a-half year deal for £320,000 mid-way through the 2021-22 campaign, Charles represented the first player to be bought by Bolton since 2018.

The 27-year-old has made good on the faith placed in him by Evatt, netting 14 times in League One over 30 matches. Only Peterborough’s Johnson Clarke-Harris has scored more (16), but the Jamaican has nearly 400 minutes more on the pitch.

George Johnston

Centre-Back | 24 Years Old | 28 Matches Played

Former Liverpool Academy product, George Johnston, has found his groove in Bolton’s backline this season. The 24-year-old’s 58 interceptions leave him just three interceptions from breaking his career record (60).

The former Scottish U-21 struggled to find his feet at Feyenoord or Wigan Athletic but has emerged as a defensive stalwart for the Wanderers. Johnston offers a threat in the final third for Bolton too, having secured a career-best 16 crosses this season with plenty of games left to go.

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