Report: Doncaster 1-2 Bolton
Goals from Neil Danns and Joe Mason secured Wanderers a 2-1 victory over Doncaster Rovers at the Keepmoat Stadium.
The duo had fired the Whites into an early two goal lead, with David Cotterill halving the deficit shortly after with a well taken free-kick.
Despite a rally from the hosts in the second half however, Wanderers stood firm and held out for all three points in South Yorkshire.
Dougie Freedman made one change to the side which beat Huddersfield Town last time out, with match winner Joe Mason taking his place in Wanderers’ starting eleven in place of Liam Trotter.
Wanderers started brightly with Mason chasing the ball downfield inside the opening 30 seconds of the clash, but Paul Keegan recovered well to dispossess the frontman and clear his lines with Lukas Jutkiewicz lurking.
Neil Danns was next to trouble the Rovers’ defence, with his looping cross into a packed penalty area only just being collected by goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.
Following such a convincing start to proceedings, it came as little surprise to those inside the Keepmoat Stadium as Danns fired Wanderers into the lead with a rasping drive from the edge of the area with just seven minutes on the clock after connecting with Alan Hutton’s smart cross.
David Cotterill enjoyed Doncaster’s first real opportunity of the game in the 11th minute as he thundered a powerful header towards the Bolton goal, but Adam Bogdan was alert and claimed the ball as his own.
Mason almost had a goal of his own moments later after Chung-Yong Lee found himself in space on the right hand side and whipped the ball into the box, but the striker somehow failed to connect.
Not to be denied however, Mason finally got his goal with 15 minutes on the clock as he slipped past the Doncaster defence before slamming home via the inside of the post.
Having struggled to break Wanderers down during the opening stages, the hosts suddenly found themselves back in contention as Cotterill halved the deficit with a well taken free-kick from just outside the penalty area with 18 minutes gone.
Jutkiewicz almost restored the Whites’ two goal advantage in the 21st minute with a looping effort, but a back-peddling Johnstone tipped the ball over the crossbar.
A breathless start to proceedings, there was to be no let-up in play as Jutkiewicz attempted an audacious half volley from all of 40 yards after spotting Johnstone off his line, but the goalkeeper was alert and placed himself well to deny him.
With the hosts clearly growing in confidence, Richie Wellens forced Bogdan into a smart save from close range with 11 minutes of the half remaining with a well-taken half volley.
As the clock ran down, both sides enjoyed chances with Paul Keegan’s volley off the crossbar almost bringing the Vikings level with three minutes to go until half time while Chris Brown’s header was collected by Bogdan at the death to ensure that Wanderers preserved their lead at the break.
Having finished the first period strongly, Doncaster almost snatched an equaliser with two minutes gone through Dean Furman who broke free of the Bolton defence, but a well-timed challenge from David Wheater denied him the opportunity to connect with the ball.
With confidence seemingly high and Bolton forced on the back foot inside the opening five minutes of the half, the Whites slowly began to creep back up field with Mason proving himself a nuisance in and around the hosts’ penalty area.
Jutkiewicz nearly added a third against the run of play in the 57th minute after Medo had won the ball back halfway inside Doncaster’s half, but the frontman couldn’t get the direction or power needed on his effort to test Johnstone.
Despite Doncaster enjoying the majority of possession and pressing Wanderers back into their own box yet again, the visitors still appeared dangerous on the counter attack with Chung-Yong Lee looking menacing for the Whites.
Having been forced to take on a more defensive role during spells of Rovers’ possession, Danns almost doubled his tally for the evening with 18 minutes remaining as he broke free and unleashed from distance, but Johnstone was equal to his shot.
Wanderers were looking solid at the back regardless of the home side’s dominance, with Dickov’s side being restricted to mostly speculative long range efforts including one from Cotterill which Bogdan saved comfortably.
David Wheater almost put the result beyond dout with seven minutes to go with a towering header from Chung-Yong Lee’s corner, but a deflection ensured that his effort skimmed agonisingly past the far post.
As the game entered its final few minutes, the home side were throwing men forward in their droves with Chris Brown’s diving header flying just wide of the post in the 88th minute of the clash with the Bolton goalkeeper beaten.
With five minutes of added time indicated, Jermaine Beckford almost cemented all three points as he broke free and fired past Johnstone’s upright with the travelling Wanderers contingent already celebrating.