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The losers of last weekend's playoff finals

Difficult situations for Bolton & Crewe

2024/05/24 00:28

At the weekend, both of the playoff final favourites in Leagues One and Two lost their respective finals with relative ease as Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra enormously underperformed and underwhelmed in front of their hometowns at Wembley Stadium.

The Trotters had been involved in League One’s automatic promotion race until the final day of the season, whilst Crewe Alexandra had also been in the race for the top three in League Two but both sides endured major blips in the second-half of the season that will have left them heading into the summer under a cloud. 

It is always fascinating to see how clubs can pull themselves together and bounce back a year later from major heartache and disappointment so we’ll have a look at the state of play in Lancashire and Chesire…


Bolton Wanderers are heading into their fourth successive season in League One – the longest time they have spent outside of the top two divisions of English football. Arrogance and tactical naivety cost them big time at Wembley Stadium with the mentality of many blinkered supporters, and perhaps their squad, seemingly being that the hard job was done when they scraped past Barnsley, who defeated them in the playoff semi-finals last year, in this season’s semis.

@Getty /

The Trotters will have to contend with likely offers for captain Ricardo Santos, albeit his underwhelming at performance will have put many suitors off, and top scorer Dion Charles. The spark of Aaron Collins saved a genuinely miserable second-half of the season with Wanderers managing just 11 victories in 29 matches across all competitions since New Year’s Day.

A switch in formation and an ability for Ian Evatt to think better on his feet will be required if Bolton are to force the risk of heartache again this time next year in an extremely difficult third-tier in which the likes of Birmingham City, Huddersfield Town, Rotherham United, Peterborough United, Barnsley, Lincoln City, Blackpool, Wigan Athletic, Charlton Athletic, Reading, Wrexham, Stockport County and, going off the signing of Keanu Baccus, Mansfield Town will target the top six at the very least next season. These are worrying times for a club that have hurt badly financially in the recent past and will not be willing to risk.


Crewe Alexandra have often yo-yo’d between Leagues One and Two and that appeared to be the case this time around but their form from the spring onwards has really undermined the work of Lee Bell and his unusually experienced squad for the Railwaymen, whereby they may now have to embark upon something of a rebuild and reset; albeit they will be dealing in what does appear to be a weaker League Two this time around.

@Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images

They appeared destined for their regular season form to continue into the semi-finals and get knocked out in the first hurdle of the playoffs when they lost the first-leg 2-0 at home to Doncaster Rovers but they travelled to Yorkshire in hope and wiped out the deficit early on before booking their spot at the so-called ‘home of football’ on penalties.

Now, though, there is a real challenge to keep key men such as Lewis Billington, Ed Turns and Conor Thomas together. Changes to the squad and a continuation of their overall form could see a really difficult start to the season but the fourth-tier is set to be as open as ever and another tilt at the top seven seems likely, though the top three, right now, seems distant. 


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2024-05-24 02h06m by awalkerson7
Wow, what a disappointment from both Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra in their playoff finals. They were both in the running for automatic promotion, but it seems like they completely fell apart when it mattered most. Such a shame for their fans at Wembley Stadium.
2024-05-24 01h36m by ocollinsworth
Wow, what a disappointment! Both Bolton and Crewe were favorites for the playoffs, but they completely fell apart. As a football fan, it's tough to see teams underperform like this. Better luck next time, guys.
2024-05-24 01h22m by jreedmanbrst
As a football fan, I am extremely disappointed with the performances of Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra in their playoff finals. I was rooting for both teams to make it to the next level, but they massively underperformed and let down their hometown fans at Wembley. It's a shame to see such promising seasons end on such a low note.
2024-05-24 00h43m by dnelsons
Disappointing performances from Bolton and Crewe in the playoff finals. Expected more from them as top teams in their leagues.


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