Report: Wanderers 1-0 Rovers
After a tightly fought game under the Reebok floodlights, with Wanderers having the ball cleared off the line and Rovers hitting the bar twice, Eagles hit the decisive strike to maintain Bolton’s winning streak to four league games and seven unbeaten.
The hosts made three changes from last weekend’s win at Barnsley. Goalkeeper Andy Lonergan came in for the injured Adam Bogdan to make his league debut for the Whites.
Sierra Leone international Medo Kamara replaced winger Chris Eagles to make his first start for the club since his arrival on deadline day from Partizan.
Boss Dougie Freedman’s last adjustment saw club captain Kevin Davies line up in attack in place of Craig Davies, with the experienced centre forward scoring the opening goal when the two sides last met in November 2012.
Rovers boss Michael Appleton made four changes to the side which lost 3-2 at home to Peterborough United, with David Jones, on loan from Wigan making his first start for the club.
Wanderers continued their trend of starting the game in pulsating style with an attack inside the opening minute after an inswinging cross from the left wing was met on the volley by Darren Pratley, with his effort narrowly missing the target.
The opening 15 minutes were end to end at the Reebok Stadium, with both teams quickly moving the ball up field when in possession.
In the 19th minute, Pratley had another look in, with two Rovers players closing him down on the right wing, the former Swansea midfielder escaped both challenges to put in a cross-cum shot which had to be directed by goalkeeper Jake Kean behind for a corner.
In a tight game under the Reebok floodlights, Wanderers had their third attempt on goal with ten minutes of the first half remaining through Jay Spearing.
From a similar range to his goal at Oakwell last weekend, Spearing hit a low effort searching for the right corner but Kean was equal to the strike.
However it was Rovers who had the best opportunity of the half in the 41st minute when towering centre half Grant Hanley grazed Lonergan’s bar.
Winning a free-kick on the left hand side, Norwegian Morten Gamst Pederson used his reliable left boot to drive a cross to the front post for Hanley to flick over.
Before the half time whistle skipper Davies and David Ngog had half chances but both teams headed for the dressing rooms with the score still 0-0
Despite a bright start to the second half by Freedman’s men, Rovers came close to an opener yet again through Hanley as he was denied by a top class save from number 24 Lonergan.
Lonergan, who has already shown his credentials this season to the Wanderers faithful with fine performances against both Sunderland and Everton, expertly tipped over Hanley’s dipping header onto the bar and out for a corner.
Bolton’s first sight of goal in the second half came in the 55th minute, Pratley again the main source of danger for the hosts, but he miss hit his 20-yard strike resulting in the ball going wide of the mark.
Ten minutes later, Spaniard Marcos Alonso looked to repeat his free-kick expertise from the weekend, which resulted in the winning goal.
Curling the ball around the Rovers wall with his left foot from 25-yards, the full back tested Kean’s shot stopping abilities with the youngster beating the ball away.
Wanderers made their first change with 19 minutes to go, winger Eagles coming on in the place of Pratley as Bolton looked to break the deadlock in the local derby at the Reebok Stadium.
A glorious opportunity was missed by Bolton with quarter of an hour remaining, a long throw from Alonso into the penalty box was timed to perfection for the run of Ngog but he couldn’t keep the ball down and his shot crashed over.
Bolton’s second change occurred in the 76th minute as both Davies’ swapped positions, Kevin coming off and Craig introduced.
Rovers’ top goal scorer Jordan Rhodes, who was kept quiet for the majority of the game by centre halves Craig Dawson and Zat Knight, was handed a clear opening after a miss placed back pass, hitting a ferocious goal bound, Lonergan pulled off another superb save to maintain the score stayed level.
With Lonergan the hero for Wanderers at one end, Adam Henley soon became the same for Rovers at the other with a goal line clearance from Chung Yong Lee.
Medo, making his full league debut, found the time and space to unleash a powerful strike on goal, with Kean only managing to parry the ball meters away from his goal, Lee was on hand for the rebound but his side foot finish was hacked off the line by Henley.
Former PNE shot stopper Lonergan’s game was not over and in the dying stages he had to prevent Rovers talisman Rhodes once more by tipping a close range header over the bar.
But the dramatic end to the game was far from over and in stoppage time, with practically the last kick former Burnley winger Eagles scored a stunning solo goal to seal all three points for Wanderers.
Collecting possession inside the Rovers half, Eagles skipped away from the Blackburn centre halves to shot across goal clipping the far post into the back of the net to send the stadium into raptures.
The full time whistle soon followed as Bolton sealed their fourth win in a row in the npower Championship.