What now for Bolton Wanderers Elias Kachunga after Forest Green drama?

Wanderers fully anticipate being without Elias Kachunga for the next three games as the Football Association process their claim for mistaken identity in Tuesday night’s 1-0 win against Forest Green.

The former Sheffield Wednesday striker is expected to take on the red card wrongly issued to team-mate Dion Charles, and the consequent punishment.

Linesman Darren Williams had made the glaring error, advising referee Tom Nield that it had been Charles, and not Kachunga, who struck out at defender Brandon Cooper. And while that mess should be easily rectified by the FA’s disciplinary panel before Saturday’s game at Charlton Athletic, the lasting damage may not be as easy to clear up.

Kachunga was already on somewhat of a sticky wicket with Bolton’s fans, having struggled to win the same sort of recognition on the terraces that he does within the team itself.

His goal return, if judged as a striker, is sparse, with six in 75 appearances in all competitions. And though Ian Evatt and his team-mates have voiced their appreciation for his work out of possession, those tactical nuances become harder to talk up when you consider a shot on target comes along every 213.4 minutes.

Perhaps Kachunga’s biggest problem is that he is grouped in the striker category at all, particularly as most of his work is done outside the penalty box, or with his back to goal.

But, in the words of Evatt, the 30-year-old let himself down against Forest Green by reacting to what had been some pretty hands-on marking from the visiting defence.

Once the officials had made their decision, that made for a pretty awkward environment as Wanderers suddenly found themselves having to protect three points at the expense of extending their lead.

In brief pockets the crowd had let Kachunga know how upset they were but the majority of their scorn was directed towards the officials. The player operated as if the incident had been playing on his mind – but with no obvious striker replacements on the bench Evatt was forced to leave him out there to in what amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.

On 73 minutes the sky really did come tumbling down. Kachunga was replaced by MJ Williams and after the initial announcement had been cheered, he jogged off the pitch to a cascade of jeers.

There hadn’t been a noise like it at the stadium since Gary Megson chose to swap Ivan Klasnic for Gavin McCann – a decision he later joked “went down like the Bismarck” – but on that occasion, the scorn was aimed at the man making the decision, and not the player himself. And a couple of days later, the much-maligned Megson was gone.

Tuesday night’s reaction has been met with a backlash from a section of supporters, who felt it unnecessary. Others are happy to stick to their guns.

Evatt was mindful of allowing the ill-feeling to linger. Whilst the Wanderers boss could not condone his players’ actions after the final whistle, he also added that Kachunga needed his “support” and not continued castigation.

“Taking tonight out of the equation, I think he has had a rough time of things,” he told The Bolton News.

“I think he deserves more respect than sometimes he is shown.

“The goals thing, obviously we all see that, but there is so much more that he brings to the team.

“Today, he has let himself down. For tonight he has got nobody else to blame but himself. But in general – and they are two different things here – we should support him. He needs support.”

The timing of Kachunga’s potential suspension is not ideal with the weekend’s game at Charlton in mind – but as Dan Nlundulu and Shola Shoretire are cup-tied in the Papa Johns Trophy he may yet have a big role to play for Wanderers at Accrington Stanley, and potentially beyond.

Evatt is looking to bring in two new strikers, and thus league chances could be further apart. Tuesday night’s start was only Kachunga’s second in 10 games, and with his contract ticking down to the summer, his Forest Green indiscretion could be costly in more ways than one.