Report: Bolton 1-0 Barnsley
Jermaine Beckford’s ninth goal of the season was to prove decisive as Bolton extended their unbeaten run to six games with victory over relegation-threatened Barnsley.
The returning striker, starting his first game since mid-January, stole in behind the defence before coolly finishing for the only goal of a frantic affair.
Beckford came close to doubling his and Wanderers’ tally, only for his curling shot from an acute angle clip the foot of the post.
Barnsley did huff and puff, particularly in the second half, and saw a late O’Grady penalty kick come back off the woodwork after some mind games from Adam Bogdan, as Bolton held on for three points.
The starting line-up showed six changes following the midweek victory at Doncaster.
Matt Mills, Alex Baptiste, Liam Trotter, Robert Hall, Andre Moritz and Beckford were all in from the off.
From the get go Barnsley started on the front foot, but it was Wanderers who engineered the game’s first opportunity.
Beckford raced onto a ball over the Barnsley rear-guard and clipped a deft pass into Moritz’s path. After a somewhat heavy touch the Brazilian then dragged a weak effort into a ruck of defenders, when the better option would have perhaps to allow an unmarked Hall a shot.
As the half wore on, clear chances were few and far between.
Hall curled a 25-yard effort straight down the throat of Luke Steele whilst up the other end Dale Jennings saw a shot from a similar distance bend wide of the far post.
The best move of the half came on 23 minutes and it started and ended with the visitors’ lively wide man Jennings.
He skipped beyond a few challenges in midfield before releasing Ryan McLaughlin down the right. Jennings burst into the area connected with a low return cross, but from six yards out skied a powerful effort over the bar.
Bolton responded. Beckford adjusted well to volley a close range effort goalwards following Chung-Yong Lee’s cross, though Steele was on hand to save.
An off-balance Lee then blazed a first time effort over the bar when arriving late at the back post, as the half seemed set to end scoreless.
That was until the final minute of the half.
A raking long pass from Mills once again found Beckford in behind the Barnsley defenders. He steadied himself before rounding the goalkeeper and tapping into an empty net.
Barnsley began the second half as they had the first.
Chris O’Grady twice saw snapshots from just inside the area gobbled up by Bogdan.
The game became increasingly stretched, as Barnsley sought out an equaliser.
That almost played into Wanderers’ hands, and as the visitors piled numbers forward Beckford once again raced away from a hesitant set of defenders. After seeing his initial effort blocked by the onrushing Steele, his second shot from the rebound skimmed the outside of the far post before trickling wide.
Barnsley did carve out opportunities of their own. On 64 minutes McLaughlin arrived at the back post to head Tomasz Cywka’s cross narrowly wide of Bogdan’s post.
Moments later O’Grady tumbled inside the area following an innocuous collision with Trotter. Referee James Adcock waved away the furious appeals from Danny Wilson and the Barnsley staff.
But on 84 minutes the referee was pointing to the spot when Baptiste felled McLaughlin in right channel of the area.
However O’Grady spurned the opportunity to level the scores from the resulting penalty kick, as his effort came back off the angle of bar and post as Wanderers eventually saw the game out.