Taylor targeting a happy return to Bolton with the Cobblers

Midfielder Matt Taylor is looking forward to his return to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday, but admits it will only be a good day if the Cobblers bring something back from the Macron Stadium.

Friday, 17th March 2017, 2:00 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:23 am
SMILES BETTER - Matt Taylor celebrates his winner against Port Vale (Pictures: Kirsty Edmonds)

Taylor spent three-and-a-half years as a Bolton player, racking up 136 appearances and scoring 23 goals for the then Premier League club, and he has happy memories of his time as a Trotter.

Bought by Bolton from Portsmouth for £3.5m, Taylor was a key man in the Wanderers team under a succession of managers, until Owen Coyle sold him to West Ham United for £2.2m in the summer of 2011, with the club still a staple of English football’s top flight menu.

That was to soon change as Bolton were relegated from the Premier League the following season, and their decline has been a steady one ever since, involving serious money troubles, resulting in their relegation from the Championship to Sky Bet League One last May.

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Under Phil Parkinson, Bolton are undergoing a revival and prepare to face the Cobblers with promotion back up to the second tier of English football very much a possibility, as they sit third in the table, a point behind second-placed Fleetwood with a game in hand.

But to find them in the third division of the national game is still something that saddens Taylor, who said: “To be perfectly frank, I am quite surprised I am going back there in league one.

“It is disappointing as a former player for Bolton, to see them languishing in the lower reaches of English football, but they have a good, strong squad.

“They have managed to hold on to the majority of their players from last season, I would assume they have one of the largest budgets in the league, and they will be expected to bounce back at the first opportunity.

“But it will only be a good day for me if we go there and get something. If we go there and get nothing, then it won’t be enjoyable.”

And he added: “It is a big game, but it’s no bigger than any other game we have faced this season.

“They are obviously favourites, and we at the start of the season, to get promoted, and we would like to go there and spoil their party.

“We lost 1-0 at home to them, so maybe we owe them one from that, and it will be a good occasion, but it will only be a good occasion if we get something from the game.”

Taylor, signed on the eve of the current campaign on a free transfer after helping Burnley into the Premier League last season, has been an influential player for the Cobblers, but never more so than in the past week.

The 35-year-old has struck late, winning goals in the 1-0 win at AFC Wimbledon and in the 2-1 win over Port Vale at Sixfields on Tuesday night, and those strikes have been crucial factors in the Cobblers climbing to 14th in the league one table.

Town are now 11 points clear of the bottom four, and their form has been so good - winning six of their past 10 league games - that they are now closer to the play-off places than the relegation zone.

And Taylor has reiterated his belief that the team can still attain a top half finish this season, which would be an excellent achievement following last season’s promotion, and the team’s struggles between November and February.

“As I said on Saturday, we wanted to look forwards, and we wanted to look towards the top half of the table, and that is where we are aiming,” said Taylor, who has now scored seven goals this season and claimed 10 assists with his crossing and pinpoint set-piece delivery.

“We maybe underperformed in the middle part of the season, but since the manager has come in we have turned around performances and got the points that we vitally needed.

“We still want to get into the top half of the table, and finish the season strongly.”