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FA Cup | Second Round
Dec 2, 2023 at 3pm UK
University of Bolton Stadium
Harrogate Town
5 - 1
Dadi Bodvarsson (9', 33', 43'), N'Lundulu (49', 52')
Mendes Gomes (64'), Jones (81')
FT(HT: 3-1)
Thomson (45')
Thomson (75')

Preview: Bolton Wanderers vs. Harrogate Town - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's FA Cup clash between Bolton Wanderers and Harrogate Town, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

A ticket to the FA Cup third round is up for grabs when Bolton Wanderers and Harrogate Town butt heads at the Toughsheet Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The Trotters cruised into the second round with a 4-0 thrashing of Solihull Moors, while their League Two counterparts marched to their own four-goal success, battering Marine 5-1.

Match preview

Bolton Wanderers' manager Ian Evatt on May 13, 2023© Reuters

For the past four seasons, Bolton's FA Cup journey had ended with a premature first-round exit, but Ian Evatt's defensively-sound side ended that dampening sequence when National League outfit Solihull Moors paid a visit on November 4.

It took 39 minutes for Bolton to break the deadlock through Ricardo Santos, but the captain's header sparked a second-half goal rush in which Paris Maghoma, Will Forrester and top scorer Dion Charles all made the net bulge, sending the Trotters through to round two for the first time since 2018-19.

Remarkably, the 1958 winners have never been eliminated from the FA Cup at the second-round stage, and one quick glance at the form book suggests that the Trotters will prolong such a streak on Saturday, as they navigated November without conceding a single goal in any competition.

Charlton Athletic, Solihull Moors, Shrewsbury Town, Blackpool, Stockport County and Exeter City have all been bested by Bolton without breaching the Trotters' backline in recent weeks, allowing Evatt's side to cement their spot at the top of the League One table, although only goal difference is separating them from Portsmouth.

The hosts squandered the chance to steer clear of Portsmouth in midweek too, as their eight-game winning streak came to an end in a goalless draw away to Oxford United, but Evatt's men have a phenomenal seven successive clean sheets under their belt and have only failed to score once at the Toughsheet Community Stadium this term.

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver looks dejected after the match on January 9, 2022© Reuters

Denying Marine another potential third-round glamour tie two years on from the minnows' momentous showdown with Tottenham Hotspur, Harrogate Town were in a merciless mood when they met the Northern Premier League outfit at Rossett Park four weekends ago.

Sam Folarin's brace complemented efforts from Stephen Dooley, Rod McDonald and Abraham Odoh in a comprehensive 5-1 thrashing, which sent the Sulphurites through to the second round for the fifth time, but only one of their previous four ties at this level has ended in success.

However, Harrogate are now just 90 minutes away from making the third round of England's most prestigious competition for only the second time, having got so far in the 2021-22 campaign before being subjected to a 4-0 hiding at the hands of now-Premier League side Luton Town.

Simon Weaver's team will bring a four-game winless run into Saturday's clash, although coming from two goals down to hold Wrexham to a 2-2 draw on Tuesday was no mean feat, and they only drew one attacking blank from six matches throughout November.

Interestingly, each of Harrogate's last five victories in any competition have come on the road, but they fell short during their only two previous meetings with Bolton in the 2020-21 League Two season, where the Trotters claimed a pair of 2-1 wins en route to promotion.

Bolton Wanderers FA Cup form:

Bolton Wanderers form (all competitions):

Harrogate Town FA Cup form:

Harrogate Town form (all competitions):

Team News

Bolton Wanderers' Dion Charles celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on May 13, 2023© Reuters

Only a few minutes after drawing first blood against Harrogate, Bolton defender Santos was taken off during the break, but the hosts' captain completed the full 90 against Oxford and is set to don the armband in a three-man defence once again.

Santos's fellow centre-back George Johnston is facing several months out after undergoing a knee operation, but on a double positive note, Randell Williams (tendonitis) and Zac Ashworth (calf) are both fit again and could play a part.

Evatt has suggested that he will ring the changes for the second round, which could allow the likes of Forrester, Aaron Morley and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson the chance to impress from the first whistle.

As for Harrogate Town, experienced goalkeeper Mark Oxley tore a tendon in his calf at the end of October and is expected to spend another two months out of action, so Jonathan Mitchell retains possession of the gloves for the time being.

Aside from Oxley, though, the Sulphurites' treatment room is empty, although McDonald - one of the visitors' goalscorers against Marine - might be in danger of losing his place after coming off at half time in the stalemate with Wrexham.

Bolton Wanderers possible starting lineup:
Baxter; Toal, Santos, Forrester; Morley; Mendes, Dempsey, Maghoma, Williams; Bodvarsson, Nlundulu

Harrogate Town possible starting lineup:
Mitchell; Ramsay, O'Connor, Burrell, Foulds; Cornelius, Dooley; Thomson, Odoh, Muldoon; March

SM words green background

We say: Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Harrogate Town

Even if Evatt opts to shuffle the pack amid his side's League One title charge, a Trotters outfit who have given little away at the back in recent weeks should prove too strong for their lower-tier opponents on Saturday.

Failure to score against Oxford was surely only a minor blip for Bolton, who ought to have no problem breaching the Harrogate defence on a couple of occasions to sail into round three.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data

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