Report: Bolton 2-2 Derby
Chris Eagles’ strike secured Wanderers a point in a 2-2 draw against Derby County at the Reebok Stadium.
The Whites had taken an early lead through Alex Baptiste, but a brace from Johnny Russell had the visitors in the driving seat inside the opening 20 minutes.
Not to be deterred however, Bolton hit back shortly before the break through Eagles to ensure that the game ended all square.
Prior to kick off, manager Dougie Freedman made a number of changes to the team which started the weekend’s clash against Leeds United with the likes of David Wheater, Rob Hall and Jermaine Beckford all featuring in the Whites’ starting eleven, whilst Jay Spearing donned the captain’s armband in place of Zat Knight.
Wanderers started brightly with Eagles powering forward inside three minutes, but the winger’s shot was deflected behind for a corner with it seeming as though he was set to hand the Whites an early lead.
Eagles’ antics lead to a number of Bolton corner kicks with the visitors being put under a tirade of pressure, and their hard work eventually paid dividends in the fifth minute of the game as Chung-Yong Lee played the ball into the path of Baptiste who fired home from just inside the area.
It was no more than Wanderers deserved given their lightening start to proceedings, but Derby were to stun the home support just two minutes later as Russell fired home from close range to draw Nigel Clough’s men level with their first meaningful attack of the game.
Despite the set-back, Freedman’s men bounced back with a number of impressive runs from Hall down the left flank, but his work was ultimately in vain as nothing came of the attacks.
Having put their opponents under pressure however, Wanderers were undone by a dangerous ball across the face of goal, with Russell bundling the ball over the line under pressure from Wheater to hand Derby the lead in the 17th minute.
Straight from the off, the hosts were almost level as Eagles’ shot was parried into the path of Lee who fired straight at Lee Grant in the Rams’ goal, with the former again forcing the keeper into a smart save with the second rebound.
Clearly aggrieved at having found themselves following such a bright start, Wanderers threw men forward in their numbers in a bid to pull level with the likes of Lee, Eagles and Hall proving to be a nuisance in and around the Derby penalty area.
Having been awarded a free-kick just outside Wanderers’ box Jamie Ward almost extended Derby’s lead with 24 minutes played, but Adam Bogdan was rightly placed to produce the save needed.
As the half wore on, Wanderers enjoyed more chances to equalise with Spearing and Hall both having their powerful shots blocked in quick succession, while Russell went close to his hat trick with a drilled effort into the arms of the Bolton keeper.
Eagles almost drew Bolton level moments later with a powerful free-kick, but his goal bound shot deflected off the Derby wall and trickled past the post for a corner.
Not to be denied however, the winger finally had the ball in the back of the net with 41 minutes played with a beautifully taken strike from all of 25 yards after being fed the ball by Tim Ream.
The goal appeared to be just the tonic that the Whites needed, with Hall curling his free-kick inches over the crossbar with seconds of the half remaining to send Wanderers into the break high on confidence.
As the second period got underway, it was clear to see that Bolton weren’t in the mood to settle for a point in the clash, with a number of industrious runs down each flank from the likes of Hall and Tierney being solid proof of the Whites’ determination to find a winning goal.
With Bolton ruling proceedings inside the opening ten minutes of the half and Bogdan merely a spectator, Eagles attempted to double his tally from distance but saw his effort trickle well wide.
It was evident that tempers were flaring given the tempo of the game, with a number of full blooded tackles from both teams.
Having been virtually camped in their own half for the best part of 20 minutes, Derby finally tested the Whites with a goalmouth scramble, Matt Mills finally clearing Wanderers’ lines after madness ensued in the penalty area.
Straight from that opportunity, Beckford looked set to hand Bolton the lead after a powerful solo run into the area, but the striker scuffed his shot just as he was set to pull the trigger.
Baptiste went within inches of giving the Whites the lead in the 67th minute after connecting with Tierney’s in-swinging free-kick, but the full-back was ousted out at the far post.
Freedman introduced David Ngog into the mix in place of the industrious Hall with 18 minutes left as Wanderers went in search of a winning goal, with the Frenchman immediately making his presence felt in the Derby area.
It was all Bolton as the clocked ticked down and Ngog had the Reebok faithful on their feet with 77 minutes gone with his header from Spearing’s ball downfield, but the ball drifted agonisingly wide.
Having withstood a tirade of Wanderers pressure during the second half, the Rams threw Conor Sammon into the mix in their own bid to take all three points and enjoyed a few rare spurts which ultimately came to nothing.
Despite a number of late runs from the Whites themselves however, the game ended all square.