Instead of the traditional hike up Rivington Pike, Good Friday found us on our way to Stevenage for the first of the magnificent seven matches taking us to automatic promotion!

For many Bolton fans, this was a first ever visit to the Lamex Stadium as the only other time we had played there was during the COVID lockdown. We were invited into their Broadhall Suite, where we could chat amiably with their fans, while enjoying sausage and chips, washed down with Old Speckled Hen. They were not optimistic as their captain was missing and their manager, Steve Evans would be stuck in the stands. For our part, we were optimistic we could get right back in the mix, after Derby’s surprise defeat at Northampton last weekend.

After nearly a fortnight off, the team should have been fresh but there was no good news on the injury front with Dion Charles and Nathan Baxter still sidelined and much to Ian Evatt’s frustration, Gethin Jones joining them after injuring his hip on international duty with Australia. Evatt brought back Will Forrester after his recent injury and gave Cameron Jerome the striker’s role.

Stevenage started better, but we nearly took the lead when Forrester’s header hit the bar. We started the second half better but then gradually faded, running out of ideas. It was disappointing as too many players were below par. Indeed, lacklustre would be a polite way of describing our performance.

We desperately needed inspiration but sadly there was none to be found. We were lucky to survive a late scare when they put a glorious chance wide. Again, it was frustrating not to get three points as Stevenage were not great shakes, just a hard-working team. But we have to be happy we managed to hold onto a point, especially in the light of the surprise home defeats of Barnsley and Peterborough.

However, it does hand the advantage back to Derby as they scrambled a win against Blackpool.

Beating Reading on Monday is a no-brainer. But where is the inspiration going to come from? We are looking for heroes to step up and be counted.