Harrogate Town travel to the Toughsheet Community Stadium to face Bolton Wanderers in the second round of the FA Cup this weekend.
League One table-toppers Bolton come into this game as overwhelming favourites, as they look to extend their nine-game unbeaten streak. Their opponents will be looking to cause an upset as they hope to snap a four-game winless run. The Sulphurites are enjoying their fourth consecutive season in the football league, following promotion from the National League in 2020.
The hosts comfortably dispatched National League side Solihull Moors in the first round, with goals from Ricardo Santos, Paris Maghoma, Will Forrester and Dion Charles helping Wanderers to a 4-0 win. Harrogate easily got the better of non-league opponents Marine, beating them 5-1 on the road, which included a brace from forward Sam Folarin.
Before a 0-0 draw at Oxford United in midweek, Bolton were winners of eight game in a row, the last of which being an impressive 7-0 win at home to Exeter City. Six different players found the net on the day, including top scorer Charles, who scored twice. Charles has scored 13 goals so far, and will be hoping to add to that total on Saturday. Victor Adeboyejo has also enjoyed a strong start to the campaign, netting six times. They lead the league on goal difference, level on points with second-place Portsmouth. The goal is to return to the Championship for the first time since 2019, and their excellent start will give them great confidence to achieve their target.
In contrast, Harrogate sit in 16th place in League Two with 24 points. They are nine points above the relegation zone, a battle they will not want to get dragged into. However, the competitive nature of the division means that they are also just six points from eighth. Despite this, they have had an inconsistent start to the season. They have drawn two of their last three league games, with the other being a 2-1 defeat at Crawley. George Thomson is their top scorer with five goals, and has also chipped in with two assists.
Last season, Harrogate actually progressed further in the FA Cup than Bolton, reaching the second round, but lost 3-1 at Hartlepool United. This year they will be aiming to get past the third round, something that has never been done in the club’s history. Bolton fell at the very first hurdle, with Barnsley inflicting a 2-1 defeat. They are four-time winners of the Cup, but have not advanced past the fourth round since 2012.
There have been just two meetings between the sides. Both teams were in League Two during the 20/21 season, the only time they have been in the same division. Bolton won both fixtures by the same scoreline, 2-1. Wanderers finished the season in third place, therefore gaining automatic promotion to League One.