There was a time not so long ago when this looked like one of the easier games in Leicester’s run-in. To be precise, it was 10 weeks ago. On the 2nd February Leicester were 2nd in the Championship, Bolton were 20th. A seemingly insurmountable 19 points separated the sides. Now Bolton sit pretty in the play-off spot Leicester fans had for the longest time assumed would be theirs at the very least. Lose tonight, and Leicester will surrender all but a mathematical chance of claiming it.
Bolton’s rise has been spectacular. Since dropping to 20th in February the side has picked up 29 points from a possible 39. In the same number of matches Leicester have managed to scrape together eight.
Much of Bolton’s turnaround has been down to an imperious recent home record. Since Boxing Day Bolton have won eight and drawn just one of their last nine home matches.
But on the road Wanderers have been far from invincible. Dougie Freedman’s men have yet to win back to back away matches, and haven’t won on the road against a side higher than 16th in the Championship.
In contradiction to their progress in the league Bolton start well in matches. Only Watford and Cardiff have scored the opening goal more often in the Championship this season. But hope for Leicester comes from the knowledge that the Trotters have dropped 29 points from winning positions. Only Burnley have been more careless.
Leicester fans know a thing or two about conceding late goals themselves of course. The Foxes would be nine points better off but for goals conceded in the last five minutes since February.
A clean sheet would be useful, the best defence in the Championship hasn’t kept one of those in nine games. Some more clinical finishing would be welcome too.
But realistically even a win tonight would not makes the Foxes favourites to make the top six. Nigel Pearson has said no less than four wins will do, and he’s almost certainly right. It would therefore be comforting if Leicester had won any of their four reverse fixtures against Bolton, Crystal Palace, Watford and Nottingham Forest. Sadly they haven’t.