Relegation battlers Bolton welcome promotion-chasing Bristol City on Friday night. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter...
"Phil Parkinson’s charges have collected 18 of their 26-point haul on home soil"
Bolton v Bristol City
Friday 2nd February, 20:00 GMT
Live on Sky Sports
Bolton battling immediate relegation
Birmingham's midweek victory over fellow strugglers Sunderland saw Bolton slide back into the Championship's relegation zone but the Trotters will have an opportunity to move three points clear of the drop-zone when returning to action on Friday night.
Phil Parkinson's charges have had their feet up for a fortnight since being held to a 1-1 draw here by Ipswich. The result extended Wanderers' recent winless run to four (W0-D1-L3) after in-demand striker Gary Madine saw his 10th goal of the season cancelled out by Joe Garner 10 minutes from time.
Ipswich generally dominated a low-quality game but Bolton lost Mark Beevers to illness on the morning of the contest and fielded midfield shield Karl Henry from the off despite not being fully fit. Both players should be ready to return but Darren Pratley continues his recovery from a broken leg.
Bristol City back to winning ways
There was no hint of a post-League Cup hangover for Bristol City last weekend as the Robins deservedly overcame QPR 2-1 at Ashton Gate despite having Nathan Baker sent off for a late tackle after half an hour. Record signing Famara Diedhiou put the hosts ahead before Joe Bryan confirmed victory.
Lee Johnson's men arrived on the back of six defeats in seven, including their League Cup semi-final with reverse with Manchester City just days earlier. But City responded excellently with an energetic performance, reducing Rangers to only two efforts on-target and registering a first victory since Boxing Day.
Johnson gave a debut to new striker Lois Diony, on-loan from St Etienne, in the closing stages and the forward looks likely to be on the bench once more. Baker will now start a suspension and Luke Steele will continue to deputise for crocked keeper Frank Fielding. Callum O'Dowda, Milan Djuric and Jens Hegeler are all out.
Robins deserved favourites but too short to support
Following promotion, Bolton [3.95] were beaten in their first five Championship matches at their Macron Stadium base but the Trotters have been turned over just once in their past eight outings here (W5-D2-L1), surprisingly by rock-bottom Burton.
Phil Parkinson's charges have collected 18 of their 26-point haul on home soil although their return when welcoming top-half teams is a little off-putting for Wanderers' backers (W1-D1-L5). Nevertheless, Cardiff were toppled here before Christmas and Bolton are capable of clinching at least a point.
Bristol City [2.08] have suffered only six league losses all season, three of which came after Boxing Day. However, the Robins are rid of their League Cup distraction and will be buoyed by their W6-D6-L2 record on the road.
Lee Johnson's team have W3-D3-L1 at bottom-half dwellers and are deserved favourites to clinch maximum points but at the odds on offer, make little appeal. Therefore, it may pay to keep the draw onside and support a refreshed and rested Bolton outfit in the Double Chance market at [1.82].
Over 2.5 Goals has been chalked up as a [2.18] chance, an appealing price considering collectively the two teams average 2.68 goals per-game in their respective home/away Championship contests this season.
In fact, the Over 2.5 Goals whitewash has been crossed on 16/28 (57%) occasions in the same sample, as well as half of 14 fixtures when viewing Bolton's home encounters with the top-half and Bristol City's trips to the bottom-half this campaign.
The Robins have delivered for goal-heavy punters in six of their past nine away days at bottom-six opposition and although recent trends suggest a tight contest, it's encouraging to see the duo have silenced only seven sides in their 28 duels in their collective home and away outings.
Mark's 2017/18 Profit/Loss
Staked: 107.00 pts
Returned: 119.22 pts
P/L: +12.22 pts