PNE won’t take Bolton lightly

Bolton front man Liam Feeney was linked with a move to Preston in the January transfer window

Bolton front man Liam Feeney was linked with a move to Preston in the January transfer window

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Simon Grayson expects Preston North End’s visit to Bolton this weekend to be a far better spectacle than October’s corresponding meeting at Deepdale.

The sides ground out a 0-0 draw in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Halloween, the game very much falling into the category of ‘bore draw’.

PNE boss Grayson said: “It was not a classic game for Sky to have picked, a goalless draw on a Saturday teatime.

“That is probably the reason we haven’t been back on TV since and I haven’t seen Bolton shown much either!

“We weren’t playing with too much confidence at the time, we were starting to pick up a few results but were still learning about the division.

“Sometimes you get games like that which are not the most inspiring.

“Hopefully, it will be a much better game this time, with us winning and keeping a clean sheet.”

Bolton play host to North End as the Championship’s bottom club, and are 10 points adrift from safety.

On Thursday, they got some good news off the pitch with the Sports Shield consortium completing their takeover of the club.

It has been a difficult few months for Wanderers, who face a winding-up order from HMRC over £2.2m unpaid VAT and PAYE.

In that time, they have been under a transfer embargo and there were occasions when the payment of wages to staff and players was delayed.

On Monday, they were granted a third adjournment by the High Court in order for the takeover to be completed.

With that now done, they should be in a position by the next court hearing to be able to clear their debt to HMRC. Bolton’s former striker Dean Holdsworth heads the Sports Shield consortium.

Despite their plight at the foot of the table, Bolton will not be taken lightly by Grayson. He said: “We have had them watched over the last few games and they have played well in those.

“They didn’t deserve to lose at Leeds the other week and then they showed the spirit to keep going and get a point against a strong Ipswich side in midweek.

“Bolton have got some good experienced players in Mark Davies, Liam Trotter, Darren Pratley, Neil Danns, Emile Heskey and Jay Spearing.

“They will be desperate to help get Bolton out of the relegation zone. We know that they have had their problems off the pitch.”

Trotter, who Grayson refers to, is a player who came on PNE’s radar during the January transfer window.

He was linked with a move away from Bolton as they looked to lighten their wage bill, with PNE and Charlton showing an interest.

But his wages were well out of reach and the interest didn’t materialise into anything more substantial.

Trotter described the link with Preston as ‘paper talk’ and will be in Bolton’s attack against Grayson’s men.

He is likely to partner the highly-rated Zach Clough up front in a 4-1-3-2 system. Bolton’s 2-2 draw with Ipswich on Tuesday night ended a run of three defeats. They were 2-0 down but battled back with late goals from Lawrie Wilson and Stephen Dobbie.

Bolton manager Neil Lennon said: “Ipswich’s first goal was out of nothing, you have to take that on the chin, but we should have been one or two up by then.

“I can’t fault the players – their effort was excellent. I thought we played really well, we created good chances and it was exactly the same against Burnley. You end up being disappointed at only coming away with a point in this one.

“We just keep shooting ourselves in the foot for some reason – I don’t know why.”