Salford City come up against Bolton Wanderers for the first time on Friday evening as Sky Bet League Two resumes.
Just 10 miles separate Salford from Bolton, but in footballing terms the clubs have been separated by vast chasms until now, and League Two is as unfamiliar to Wanderers as it is to Salford with both clubs competing in just their second season at this level.
Nevertheless when it comes to this game, the teams are on a level field in the sense that no matter what the history or the narrative, this is a match between two League Two sides.
It’s been a successful cup break for The Ammies after the appointment of Richie Wellens and two wins from his first two games in charge. But the former midfielder is relishing getting stuck in and working towards the target of promotion that was set out when he arrived.
“I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait.
“It’s a brilliant place to start, the best stadium in the division, so it’s a great one to start.
“Friday night under the lights and in front of the Sky cameras, I’m looking forward to seeing how the players react and how we go out and perform.
“Rochdale away in a cup game when there’s not really much pressure on you is totally different to Bolton in the league so we’ll start seeing the players under pressure now, see how they react and I’m looking forward to it.”
The last decade is not one that carries fond memories for Wanderers supporters who were watching their club compete in the Premier League until May 2012. A further relegation followed in 2015-16 and although they bounced straight back up to the Championship, that spell lasted two seasons and Wanderers have since done the double drop into League Two.
Last season was a struggle for the Trotters who faced points deductions and came close to following in the footsteps of Bury, but there was a fresh air of optimism going into 2020-21 with the appointment of Ian Evatt and nearly 20 new arrivals including League Two’s top scorer Eoin Doyle and a seasoned player in Antoni Sarcevic
However it’s not been an easy start with so many new signings and Bolton have won just twice in their 11 league games so far, one at home against Bradford City and one away at Harrogate. They come into the game without a win in three, including defeat to Crewe Alexandra in the Emirates FA Cup last weekend.
HOW TO WATCH
Friday’s encounter is live on Sky Sports from 19:30 GMT, with kick-off at 19:45.
There will be no live stream, but club commentary is still available to buy and listen to for £2.50.
We will still have our match day show too with Zarah Connolly at the earlier time of 19:00 so head over to our social channels to get involved with your thoughts on the game and score predictions!