Tom Pope and Jay Spearing

League One: Derby stalemate leaves Bolton and Bury on brink of achieving respective aims

BOLTON can seal an immediate return to the Championship on Saturday after being held to a 0-0 draw in last night’s derby with BURY.

Wanderers occupy the 2nd automatic promotion spot in League One and opened up a 2-point gap between themselves and 3rd-placed Fleetwood, with 2 games to play.

So if the Trotters win at 4th-bottom Port Vale at the weekend and Fleetwood fail to win at Gillingham, who are 18th, then Bolton will bounce straight back up into English football’s 2nd tier.

Adam Le Fondre went closest to breaking the deadlock against Bury as his late 20-yard strike came down off the underside of the bar, meaning Wanderers have now won just 1 of their last 5 – scoring just once in the process. Manager Phil Parkinson is confident his side can get over the line though.

“It was a tight game, they came to make it difficult, so credit to them for that,” he said. “We had the best chances and the effort levels and drive from the team, in the 2nd half in particular, were excellent, but at the moment it’s just not going in for us.

Top of the League One table

Top of the League One table

“It’s another point to the tally and takes us 2 clear of Fleetwood, with a better goal difference. It might be an important point for us. We’ve now got to make it a really good point by getting all 3 at Port Vale on Saturday.

“In the last 3 games there’s been some excellent defending by the opposition. There are periods in the season where it doesn’t go for you but we’ve got to make sure that stops and we stop saying we’re unlucky. We’ve got to make ourselves lucky at the weekend.

“The lads are a bit low after the game because they’ve put a lot of effort into the last few weeks and not got the returns we probably deserved. We’ve just got to keep chipping away, as we’ve done all season.

“Points are hard to come by at this stage of the season because everybody’s fighting for so much. We’ve just got to keep going. The lads have been terrific and they’re desperate to get the job done, but we’ve got to be mentally and physically prepared to go to the wire.”

Bolton end the season at home to mid-table Peterborough while Bury visit a Southend side still hoping to get into the play-offs, but first the Shakers host Northampton on Saturday.

Around 1,500 away fans were among the crowd of 18,223 at the Macron and Bury’s best chance saw James Vaughan have a header tipped over by Mark Howard but the Shakers were pleased to end a 3-match losing streak and put 2 points between themselves and the drop zone.

Boss Lee Clark said: “Time will tell but at this moment it’s a huge point, coming to the team that’s going for 2nd place and putting in a really spirited performance. To a man, everyone was up for the fight.

“It’s a tough place to come, especially after Fleetwood winning on Monday, so not many people outside our dressing room would have given us a chance of getting a positive result.

“We could have created more but the first thing I’ve asked for since the Oxford game (5-1 defeat) is to get back to being a solid team fighting for each other. Now can we back that up on Saturday with a win at home?”

Bottom of the League One table
Bottom of the League One table

Results over Easter weekend were kind on Bury but even if Bolton do them a favour by winning at Vale Park, Bury can’t secure survival this Saturday as Vale will still have 2 games to play.

“I said to the players ‘we’ve had a helping hand, we now have to stick to our end of the bargain’,” Clark added. “We’ve got a result which our rivals probably didn’t think we get so we need to back it up on Saturday now, take maximum points and put real pressure on our rivals.”