Home has not been so sweet for Bolton Wanderers
BRIGHTON’S 2-0 victory at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday was their first at the ground and ended Wanderers’ five-match unbeaten run in the Championship while becoming the fifth team to break their duck there this season.
After successive home wins against Watford and Blackburn, Wanderers slipped back into the indifferent home form that has dogged them for much of the campaign.
Just four victories in 18 home league fixtures is one of the main reasons Dougie Freedman’s side reside in the wrong half of the table going into the final 10 matches.
They have now dropped 33 points from 54 available on home turf and only Birmingham City (two) have won fewer games on their own ground.
The unusually poor record at the Reebok has seen six defeats in league and cup this season and five of those have handed their opponents a first ever win at the stadium.
Saturday was Brighton’s first taste of victory at the Reebok, albeit on only their second visit.
But prior to their win, Queen’s Park Rangers, Huddersfield Town, Burnley and Cardiff City, in the FA Cup, all broke their duck in 2013/14.
Seventeen years since the first home match at the stadium against Everton and Aston Villa becoming the first to take three points away, the Seagulls became the 41st British team to beat Wanderers at the Reebok since the stadium opened.
In total, 70 sides from England or Wales have visited the stadium since September 1997 with Doncaster Rovers and Bournemouth the most recent to pay their first visit this campaign.
There have been 394 domestic matches hosted by Wanderers at the Reebok and by the end of the Championship campaign on May 3, against Birmingham, that number will have risen to 399.
But over the years, Wanderers have enjoyed a largely good record on home soil since leaving Burnden Park for pastures new.
They have a 60 per cent success rate against those domestic opponents with 29 teams yet to enjoy that winning feeling at the Reebok.
Of course, many of those visitors have made the trip just once – mostly for cup clashes.
But one side who has a stand-out poor record at the ground is West Ham, who have played at the stadium 12 times and are yet to win, losing on a massive 10 of those dozen visits.
Others who do not enjoy their trips to Bolton are East Midlands duo Nottingham Forest and Leicester City, who have both drawn three and lost two of their five outings, though the latter could break their duck in April when Nigel Pearson’s Championship leaders are in town.
There are those who, in contrast, can boast an unbeaten record at the stadium. There are seven such sides – Leyton Orient, Coventry City, Oxford United, Bradford City, Northampton Town, Bournemouth and Stockport County – but only Stockport have been more than once, winning twice and drawing once on three visits.
Of those sides who have been 10 times or more, two have records featuring just one defeat.
Chelsea also boast a record of just one defeat in 12, though they have only drawn two of the other 11 games.
Having failed to win in their first three visits, the Blues have prospered since and are currently on a run of nine victories at the Reebok.
But they haven’t been the most regular visitors – that honour goes to Lancashire rivals Blackburn, whose recent 4-0 reverse in Bolton was their 17th trip to the Reebok.
It was a fourth straight defeat as well for a Rovers team who had previously gone 11 games in Bolton without defeat.
At the opposite end of the scale, 13 teams have made just one trip to face Wanderers at the Reebok.
That figure rises, however, when we extend it beyond domestic shores with the Whites’ two European campaigns adding another nine visitors to the tally.
Lokomitiv Plovdiv were the first continental visitors in September 2005 and were beaten 2-1 thanks to a late Kevin Nolan strike.
Zenit St Petersburg also lost in that campaign before Sevilla and Marseille drew in Bolton.
The second European campaign saw Rabotnicki Kometal and Atletico Madrid beaten, while SC Braga, Aris Salonika and Sporting of Lisbon drew at the Reebok.
Two of the next three matches for Freedman’s side are back at the Reebok against Lancashire rivals Blackpool and Wigan and they will hope for a return to the form that hammered Blackburn.
The Tangerines have not won in Bolton in three visits since the Reebok opened while Wigan have only lost two of eight visits.
Before that, though, the boot will be on the other foot as the Whites make their first league visit to Yeovil on Saturday.
They have been to Huish Park once before – late goals from Julio Cesar and Henrik Pedersen giving them a 2-0 Carling Cup triumph a decade ago.
How Freedman would love a similar scoreline to forget that Brighton rocking.