Bolton Wanderers v Derby County

Two late goals from Kevin Davies and Chris Eagles secured Bolton’s first points of the season as Wanderers got their rewards for a persistent performance.

After a relatively even first half, Bolton continued to knock on the door in the second period.

Benik Afobe and Matt Mills came close before Davies volleyed Bolton into a deserved lead 13 minutes before the end.

And after Mason Bennett struck a post late on, Eagles made the points safe in the final minute, hammering a right foot shot into the bottom corner after dancing past several attempted challenges.   

There were two changes in the Bolton team from the one that took to the field at Turf Moor on Saturday. In came Chris Eagles and Matt Mills with Martin Petrov and Tim Ream making way.

Derby included new signing Conor Sammon in their line-up, and the former Wigan man was a sprawling Adam Bogdan save away from marking his debut with a goal inside the first five minutes.

Breaking through the Bolton defence, Sammon was in on goal, but Bolton’s Hungarian goalkeeper spread himself excellently to make a sprawling stop.

From that moment on, Wanderers began to gain control of the game, with the recalled Eagles a key threat for Owen Coyle’s side.

The winger, playing on the left, had three efforts inside in opening quarter of an hour, the closest of which flew into the side-netting from an acute angle.

Eagles also laid the ball on a plate for Marvin Sordell midway through the half for what was arguably the best opening for either side in the opening 45 minutes.

Clipping the ball into the six-yard box from the left, Sordell made firm contact on a free header but he was fractionally off target, with the Olympian’s disappointment clear for all to see.

Wanderers also had a good shout for a penalty fall on deaf ears when Mark Davies, weaving forward from midfield, was seemingly hacked down in the area by Craig Byson, yet referee Craig Pawson remained unmoved.

Whilst Bolton bossed things, Derby had one or two decent openings too. Just before the half-time whistle, right-back John Brayford delivered a peach of a cross through the six-yard box, with a final touch the only thing lacking.

It was more of the same after the break as Bolton were the team looking most likely, although they were met with a resilient Derby defence.

The visitors did, however, believe they had taken the lead ten minutes after the restart when captain Richard Keogh smashed a loose ball into the net through a crowd of players. Fortunately for Wanderers, referee Pawson had seen some pushing and disallowed the goal.

After an hour of play, Owen Coyle threw on Benik Afobe in a like-for-like swap up front as Bolton turned the screw and pressed for the deadlock-breaking goal.

The Arsenal loanee added more impetus to Bolton’s attack and, indeed, could have put his team 1-0 up within five minutes of his introduction, only to for Frank Fielding to make a fine point-blank sprawling save after Kevin Davies’ delicate chipped ball from deep.

The pressure kept building on the Derby defence as Matt Mills powered a header over the bar from just three yards out and Eagles’ weaving run from halfway ended with a full stretch diving save from Fielding.

A Wanderers goal seemed inevitable and it duly arrived by Bolton’s leader Kevin Davies on 76 minutes.

The skipper reacted quickest in the penalty area following Eagles inswinging corner from the left, volleying into the roof of the net from five yards out after the ball had come through a ruck of players. 

The Reebok erupted, grateful that Bolton’s dominance had finally reaped its rewards and that the Whites were seemingly on their way towards the first points of the season.

There was, however, almost a late twist in the tale when Derby substitute Bennett’s effort squirmed through Adam Bogdan’s hands and hit the near post.

Instead, Bolton went straight up the other end and made the game safe as Eagles got the goal his performance deserved.

After dancing his way past two Derby defenders, the winger slammed the ball into the bottom corner to make the points safe.

Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight, Ricketts, Chung-Yong, M Davies, Andrews, Eagles, Sordell (Afobe 60), K Davies (Subs not used: Lonergan, Ream, Alonso, Petrov, Wylde, Pratley)

Derby County: Fielding, Brayford, Roberts, Bryson, Keogh, Coutts (Jacobs 84), Hendrick, Tyson (Bennett 84), Ward, O’Connor, Sammon (Hughes 70) (Subs not used: Legzdins, Buxton, Doyle, Gjokaj)
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