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Who are Bolton Wanderers' most prolific post-Premier League strikers?

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
Since Bolton Wanderers dropped out of the Premier League their search for a striker who could provide regular supply of goals has been a largely fruitless one.

It may come as some surprise to their browbeaten fanbase but the club has actually found the back of the net on 439 occasions since that fateful day at Stoke City in May 2012 – where just one more goal would have ensured they kept a place at the top table.

Since then, potential heroes have come and gone, but few have actually lived up to the billing.

Other than homegrown striker Zach Clough, only two recognised strikers signed on a permanent basis in the last eight years have gone on to reach double figures for Bolton – Jermaine Beckford and Gary Madine.

So as fans await confirmation that a new prospective goal-scoring idol, Eoin Doyle, has completed his move from Swindon Town, we decided to see what benchmarks had been set.

Doyle will arrive at Bolton with a career record of 153 goals in 451 games, including spells at Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers in Ireland.

Since hopping across the water to Hibernian in 2011 he has averaged a goal every 157 minutes. At League Two level, that increased slightly to one every 166 minutes.

It is often regurgitated that Michael Ricketts was the last Wanderers player to score 20 goals in a season – but also recognised by most that football has changed since Big Sam led the club into the Premier League at the turn of the millennium.

Since 2012, the 20-goal marker has been hit 25 times at League Two level, Doyle being the only man to do so in a truncated 2019/20 campaign.

Wanderers are clearly backing him to repeat that kind of form at the UniBol, so we broke down the records of the permanent striker signings which preceded him and how regularly they hit the back of the net.

MPG - Minutes per goal scored

Only permanent signings have been included - and players must have made more than 10 first team appearances.


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CONNOR WILKINSON – N/A

Picked up by Dougie Freedman from Millwall in 2013, the Ireland youth international arrived with quite the reputation having been linked with Benfica earlier in the summer. He failed to score a senior goal, however, spending the majority of his time out on loan. His record at Under-23 level was sound – nine goals in 23 games (164mpg).

JAMIE PROCTOR – 1,088mpg

One of Phil Parkinson’s first signings in the summer of 2016, Proctor had an impressive pre-season but failed to replicate that in League One, eventually leaving for Carlisle United on loan. His one goal came on debut against Blackpool in the EFL Cup.

CHRISTIAN DOIDGE – 854mpg

Maybe a cheat inclusion, as he never actually signed on a permanent transfer. But Doidge – and everyone else – expected it to be the case when he rocked up from Forest Green on deadline day 2018. His goal at Rotherham never quite sparked his Bolton career into life as we had hoped, and then the tawdry business over his collapsed transfer the following January dragged the club’s name through the mud.

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CLAYTON DONALDSON – 849mpg

Bought as a back-up in the Championship squad of 2018, Donaldson’s long wait for a Bolton goal became a point of contention among the fans. He scored in the cup, against Walsall, and then finally ended his league duck against Preston North End six months after his debut.

EMILE HESKEY – 826mpg

The former England international found himself playing more often than he expected when he was brought in by his old Leicester City mate Neil Lennon in late 2014. A goal on debut against Blackburn, created by fellow vet Eidur Gudjohnsen, nearly broke the internet.

MAX CLAYTON – 596mpg

More of a withdrawn striker than an out-and-out front man, and often employed on the left of a three. Clayton was signed by Freedman from Crewe – via a convoluted spell in Denmark – but suffered some horrendous luck with injuries. His late goal against Coventry City in the 2016/17 promotion season was the standout moment of a staccato Bolton career.

JOSH MAGENNIS – 488mpg

A rarity on this list, in that he was actually signed for a transfer fee. Around £225,000 brought the Northern Irishman from Charlton in the summer of 2018 and he finished the season as top scorer on eight goals. It was hardly a happy chapter in his career, however, and amid major financial problems during his 12 months at Bolton he will perhaps be best remembered for refusing to play against Wycombe on the opening day of last season, shortly before moving to Hull City.

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CHRIS O’GRADY – 464mpg

Put in a few good performances at the front end of last season when Keith Hill’s impossible escape mission still looked achievable. The former Oldham man never looked entirely comfortable being played out wide and, in the end – a little like Donaldson – the veteran striker struggled to win over the supporters.

JOE DODOO – 404mpg

Another man who wanted to be front and centre after his release by Rangers. There were times when Dodoo’s direct pace and energy looked an asset, many others where he did not get involved in the game at all. Released at the end of last season and, in all likelihood, unlikely to return next season at Wanderers.

AARON WILBRAHAM – 355mpg

Only scored twice after signing on a free from Bristol City, but certainly picked his moments. A late leveller against Sheffield Wednesday was a real Roy of the Rovers moment but the header to seal Wanderers’ safety against Nottingham Forest on the final day secured his legend. Strange to think that the mention of the veteran target man on the team-sheet was once enough to bring groans out of the Bolton supporters.

GARY MADINE – 318mpg

Another striker who overcame doubters to finish his Bolton career strongly. Hardly announced with fanfare when Neil Lennon brought him in from Sheffield Wednesday, Madine spent his first 12 months scowling in frustration towards the sidelines. Parkinson’s style suited him more – and that glorious run in League One spurred him on to a very reasonable goal return. A £6million move to Cardiff City, where he played Premier League football, is testament to his hard work.

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DARYL MURPHY – 273mpg

Cut a frustrated figure last season after his move from Nottingham Forest but still weighed in with eight goals and a reasonable goals-to-minutes ratio. The veteran Irishman would surely have been good value for more goals had Wanderers made more of a fist of their survival fight, too.

JERMAINE BECKFORD – 269mpg

A divisive presence on the list, as despite costing a princely £1million from Leicester City and commanding a big salary, he failed to make a big impression at Wanderers. Eleven goals in 51 games is hardly a terrible return but for some supporters his struggle for the expected form summed up what had become an unhappy environment under Freedman.

KAIYNE WOOLERY – 262mpg

Signed for less than £50,000 from non-league Tamworth, the young striker struggled to shed the ‘raw’ tag in his time at Bolton but certainly had something. Scored three goals in total, including a late winner against Rotherham United, and went on to start a decent lower league career with Wigan and Swindon.

CRAIG DAVIES – 246mpg

Signed for £300,000 from Barnsley as competition for his namesake, Kevin, the Wales international surprised a few people with how well he did at Wanderers. His ratio is improved as fewer than half his 58 appearances for the club were from the bench.

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ADAM LE FONDRE – 255mpg

Provided a personal guarantee of goals when he walked into the building on loan, twice, and then on a permanent basis in 2018. And despite Le Fondre struggling to win a regular place under Phil Parkinson, the numbers show he was as consistent a goalscorer as anyone Bolton have signed since dropping out of the top-flight. His ratio of 255mpg is improved to 225 if you include his two loan spells.

ZACH CLOUGH – 222mpg

Fans had begged Freedman to fast-track the academy goal sensation into the first team, but it wasn’t until Lennon’s arrival that the youngster was really given his chance. Clough scored 22 goals before that ill-fated move to Nottingham Forest. He returned on loan for a relatively unsuccessful spell – scoring once to maintain a similar goals-to-minutes ratio (223).

EIDUR GUDJOHNSEN – 208mpg

Sadly, the stats are unavailable for the Icelander’s first stint at Bolton, but he definitely made the most of his second return under Neil Lennon in 2014, and we won’t be forgetting the Boxing Day victory against Blackburn Rovers in a hurry.

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SCOTT DOBBIE – 102mpg

Perhaps a surprising name at the top of the list? The Scot, now 37, is still banging them in for Queen of the South and despite hardly starting a game for Bolton, he still supplied some moments of class from the bench to leave him with a very decent scoring record.

Signed as a squad player form Crystal Palace on a free transfer by Neil Lennon, he left after a year and will be remembered for a dramatic late equaliser against Nottingham Forest; just not ‘that one.’

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PREMIER LEAGUE BUNCH

Wanderers carried an expensive squad into the Championship in 2012 and of the strikers they retained, Marvin Sordell returned a pretty impressive goal per 168 minutes before moving out on loan to Burnley.

David Ngog scored 12 league goals over two seasons in the second tier, his ratio of 262 also reasonable in comparison with some of those who followed.

Kevin Davies struggled for chances after the arrival of Dougie Freedman but his six goals after relegation left him with a MPG of 417.

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