Bolton Wanderers look to build on their first win
IN a month now linked with quitting a habit, Wanderers hope to have given up losing for Stop-tober.
Saturday’s first Championship win of the season at Birmingham ended the worst league start in 111 years and came on the back of a battling goalless draw at Blackpool.
A return of four points from six from two tough away fixtures means this month has started far brighter for Dougie Freedman’s side. And with back-to-back home games – against Sheffield Wednesday and then Ipswich Town – completing the schedule after the international fortnight the Whites boss will hope the revival continues on home turf.
Traditionally, October is an indifferent month for Wanderers in terms of results, the previous six campaigns having seen them record just one victory in the month.
A year ago, that solitary victory came in the first game post-Owen Coyle with Jimmy Phillips and Sammy Lee in caretaker charge for a 3-2 home win against Bristol City, when goals from Chris Eagles, Jay Spearing and Martin Petrov earned a first win in four games.
You have to go back to 2005 for the last time Wanderers registered more wins than defeats in October and that included a 1-0 Carling Cup third round triumph against West Ham United.
It is generally a month in which they bank at least one win-bonus, many of which have come after international breaks.
While the Whites have been on the wrong end of some punishment on the road in the first game back after the October internationals, most notably at Chelsea (5-1) in that 2005/6 campaign and at Manchester City (6-2) in 2003/4, their record at the Reebok is good.
In fact, since the turn of the century, they have won three and drawn one of their four home dates after the October international break.
They beat Crystal Palace 1-0 in 2004 and then drew 0-0 with Lancashire rivals Blackburn at the Reebok in 2008.
Three years ago, they returned to Premier League action after a fortnight to beat Stoke 2-1 on home soil thanks to a last-gasp Ivan Klasnic winner in a game in which he was later sent off.
And the last home fixture after the break came last year with that victory over Bristol City.
Current boss Freedman will certainly hope that trend continues when Sheffield Wednesday cross the Pennines in 11 days’ time. Better still, he will be aiming to make it a hat-trick of wins to complete the month against the Owls and Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich.
If the Whites do avoid defeat, it will be the first October they will have navigated without a loss since the 1996/7 campaign.
In seven games in October, 17 years ago, Wanderers won five and drew two.
That successful month included a 2-1 triumph over Chelsea in the League Cup thanks to goals from John McGinlay and Nathan Blake.
McGinlay also had a successful month on a personal level, netting in all but one of those seven matches and scoring two in three of those as he ended the month with nine goals.
The Whites also had a good October two years earlier when they went seven games unbeaten again, this time winning on four occasions.
The current team’s victory at Birmingham means they will avoid joining the ranks of those Wanderers teams who have failed to win a match in October.
The last time that happened was 11 years ago when Sam Allardyce’s Whites lost three of four games in the month, including a home humbling by Bury in the Worthington Cup.
In 1981, under George Mulhall’s stewardship, the Whites returned their lowest points haul in October when a goalless draw at Norwich on the final day of the month gave them their only point from five games while the 1956 team drew all four.
Even in the worst league start ever in 1902/3, Wanderers still managed an October point when they drew 1-1 at home to Liverpool.
The Whites have never lost every game in October, neither have they won on every occasion.
The month does hold notable landmarks, however, including the record away League Cup victory, 4-0 against Rochdale in 1973, while the club’s record league victory came on October 6, 1934 when Barnsley were thumped 8-0 at Burnden Park.
It is unlikely Freedman’s class of 2013 will put as many as eight past a south Yorkshire side this month, but just one goal will do if it brings a first victory in front of the home faithful.