DAVE Crouch’s trying first season as Bolton head coach comes to an end this Saturday and he is determined to sign off for the summer with a win.
Bolton completed their home fixtures earlier this month with a 41-33 win against Aspatria at Avenue Street. And, after a week off comes this Saturday’s final fixture, in which Crouch’s men face a trip to Hawcoat Park.
A miserable March, with three defeats from three games, put paid to any hopes the Cherry and Whites had of finishing in the top two. But April has proved far more profitable with high-scoring wins in both fixtures.
“We played really well against a side hoping to go second in the table,” said Crouch, who took the reins from Nick Holmes in the summer. “It was the kind of performance we have been after and it proved a point, that we can do it when we have to.
“We have just suffered with a number of changes in each game but that win showed what we can do. I think some players’ attitude has been a bit ‘comme ci, comme ca’ at times but in the last three games – because we did play well against Carlisle, even though we lost – that attitude has changed and it made a big difference, now we are looking to finish strongly with three wins in a row.”
Bolton’s task, and their bid to overtake Wigton and end the campaign in fifth, will not be easy at their Barrow-in-Furness hosts, despite a wretched run of form for Hawcoat Park. They have lost their last six games in the North Lancs/Cumbria Division and slipped to seventh in the table, 10 points behind Crouch’s men. Bolton will be without influential forward and new father Ash Cooper, who is dedicating his time caring for baby Henry Cooper.
And in his absence Crouch hopes his back row will still pack a punch in Saturday’s finale.
“I don’t think Hawcoat Park travel well but they are very strong at home – in fact I was told recently we have never beaten them on their ground, so we will look to change that on Saturday,” he said.
“We’ll go there well supported, backed by a coach-load and I have to say the club and the people in it have supported me and the players right the way through. There is a group of former players, the Compost Crew, who go to every game supporting us and they are typical of the backing we get.
“We’ll have a lot going up with us and we’ll all enjoy stopping off for a good night out on the way back.
“Our new captain Rhys Pritchard has been a good leader and while we have had too many injuries this season, if our players can show more consistency and be available for more games we feel quite positive about next year.
“There will be a lot of good teams coming down into our division but we feel we can be there or thereabouts.”