Goals in either half from Luke Murphy and Daryl Murphy saw Bolton Wanderers claim a memorable victory against Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Ground.
Bouncing back in fine fashion following Saturday’s defeat at the hands of Rochdale, Wanderers put in a solid performance to pick up their first win of the campaign.
Luke Murphy put the visitors in front after a quarter of an hour before his namesake Daryl Murphy confirmed the victory deep into the second half to ensure the maximum points headed back to the North West.
With a fresh wave of injuries to contend with, manager Keith Hill made four changes from the side that lost to Rochdale at the weekend. Josh Earl, Chris O’Grady, Joe Dodoo and Luke Murphy came into the starting XI at the expense of Adam Senior, Thibaud Verlinden, Dennis Politic and Sonny Graham.
The hosts were fastest out of the traps and Remi Matthews had to be alert to keep out a powerful header off Victor Adeboyejo’s by making a fantastic save low to his left hand side.
Just a minute later and Rovers sensed another opportunity to open the scoring when Tom Nichols spotted Matthews off his line but his shot from 25 yards out went narrowly wide.
Wanderers soon settled and were carving out chances for themselves. The lively Dodoo was soon in the action and his cross found Jason Lowe 30 yards from goal but the midfielder’s first time drive was kept out well by Anssi Jaakkola.
The impressive Ali Crawford was put through by a smart O’Grady pass. Although his shot beat the dive of Jaakkola, the ball came agonizingly off the post.
Wanderers were starting to gain control of the match and Daryl Murphy showed some adept footwork to lose his man before watching his long range shot deflect for a corner.
The big Irishman then latched onto a loose ball to run into the box. He then teed up Crawford whose low drive was successfully kept out by Jaakkola.
A rare effort from the hosts fell to home captain Ollie Clarke but his 20-yard drive was well wide of target.
Wanderers were rewarded for their bright start after 16 minutes when Luke Murphy netted his first of the campaign. The midfielder, who returned to the starting line up after coming off the bench against Rochdale, played a lovely one-two as he cantered into the box before seeing his shot deflect past Jaakkola.
The goal gave the visitors some extra impetus and Dodoo watched his dangerous looking low cross get cleared by Alfie Kilgour.
Another wasteful effort from the hosts saw Ed Upson volley a fierce drive well wide of target from distance.
Dodoo wasn’t giving the home defenders any respite down the right hand side and his cross was diverted behind by Rodman when it looked to be landing at the feet of Daryl Murphy at the far post.
On the half hour mark, Clarke saw a dipping volley go narrowly over the bar as Rovers were looking to restore parity.
Matthews made a comfortable save when he held on to Clarke’s firm drive from outside the box.
Some good defending by Yoan Zouma kept out Michael Kelly’s low centre five minutes before the break.
Wanderers held on to their lead, for which they were good value, as they headed into the break.
No changes were made prior to the restart with Wanderers eager to increase their slender advantage.
After Nichols was shown a yellow for pulling back Lowe, Crawford’s resulting free-kick just evaded the outstretched left of Dodoo at the far post.
On the hour mark, Kilgour struck an effort just over the bar after Kelly’s free-kick deflected off the stoic Wanderers wall.
Crawford was desperately unlucky not to find the back of the net after pouncing on Jaakkola’s spilled ball after the Rovers keeper couldn’t keep hold of Daryl Murphy’s powerful low shot.
Matthews made an important stop as he held onto Tony Craig’s header from Kelly’s pinpoint cross into the box.
Hill’s men doubled their advantage thanks to Daryl Murphy’s first goal in Wanderers colours. The striker was put through by Crawford and he kept his cool to expertly slot past the advancing Jaakkola.
Rovers almost got themselves back into the contest but were thwarted by the woodwork when Upson’s free-kick bounced off the bar.
Despite this, Wanderers were searching for a third and Crawford, hungry for a goal, volleyed wide after Dodoo nodded down a cross from Adam Chicksen.
Adeboyejo went wide with a shot after losing his marker and turning towards goal.
Josh Emmanuel almost got a third for Wanderers right at the death when his shot from the edge of the box went just over the bar.
But Wanderers claimed their first victory of the campaign and were excellent value for the three points.
They now travel to Lincoln City on Saturday where they will be aiming to follow up with another mighty performance.