THE paths of Bolton Wanderers and Doncaster Rovers have crossed rather seldomly considering the clubs share nearly 300 years of history between them.

This will be just the sixth season they have inhabited the same division, and until very recently tonight’s match at the Keepmoat Stadium would have been viewed as a rather run-of-the-mill affair.

That all changed in August when Wanderers – then in the midst of administration - unilaterally postponed their home game against Doncaster just over 24 hours before kick-off.

The decision prompted outrage in South Yorkshire, with manager Darren Moore claiming his club had been “penalised” and “punished” by not playing the game as scheduled.

Bolton were coming off the back of a 5-2 defeat at Rochdale in the Carabao Cup and a 5-0 hammering at Tranmere and had just three senior players – Remi Matthews, Luke Murphy and Jason Lowe – available to play.

Concerns had been raised before the Tranmere game about the physical toll which had been taken on youngster who, to that point, had only played Under-18s football. And citing the Premier League’s own Elite Player Performance Plan handbook, a third game in 10 days was considered too much.

Doncaster complained, the EFL concurred. But after one independent disciplinary panel ordered that Bolton would escape immediate points deduction and that the game would be rescheduled, a second then upheld the decision after an appeal.

There was clear resentment on the other side of the Pennines, and the £4,000 in compensation did little to brighten their mood.

Jason Lowe agrees that the whole affair is likely to add some spice to tonight’s occasion, even if he is one of the few playing staff still around who was involved at the time.

“You hear grumbles going on and what people are saying about the football club, what they think should be happening but from a player’s point of view, the whole thing was out of our hands,” he told The Bolton News. “Going to actually play the game I assume it will be noted. But we just need to go there and win, we can’t really be too concerned about what went on in the past.”

Wanderers cancelled the game citing “welfare concerns” for the youngest members of their squad.

Four players aged under 18 years of age had started the Tranmere match and there was another four named on the bench.

The team dubbed the ‘Junior Whites’ had fought valiantly to secure a goalless draw against Coventry City but minor injuries were already surfacing and Bolton would have had to bring in players aged under 16 to pad out their bench if any further problems emerged.

Lowe feels the action was justified – even though he has some sympathy for the view that Wanderers could have set a dangerous precedent.

“It was a big ask for them, young lads playing men’s football and a level they just were not used to,” he said.

“The expectation was lower at that point because the fans were excellent in understanding the situation that the football club was in at the time.

“It doesn’t take away from the challenge they had and for young men they were different class.

“The hierarchy at the time took the decision to look after their welfare and from a player’s point of view, looking at what was going on behind the scenes, I think it was understandable.

“I can see other clubs’ frustrations, without a doubt, but that’s out of our hands. It’s down the hierarchy to iron out in the game.”

After Saturday’s defeat at Coventry City Keith Hill hinted that he could keep things fresh by giving some of his January signings their first start.

The likes of Ryan Delaney and Jacob Mellis had a brief taste of the action at the weekend, while the likes of Jack Hobbs and Joe Bunney are also working towards full fitness.

Lowe believes the squad is stronger after last month’s business.

“January is always up and down, people come in, people go out,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential distraction going on, as professional as you try to be to focus on the games.

“We have the squad we have. It’s a great group of lads and they have settled well. They will be assets for us.”