Report: Bolton 2-1 Blackburn
Wanderers overturned a first-half deficit to run out 2-1 winners over Blackburn Rovers at Macron Stadium.
Josh King had opened the scoring for Rovers shortly before half time, but Emile Heskey scored on his Bolton debut as he slotted home at the far post on the hour mark.
The Whites weren’t to be denied however, with Darren Pratley’s second goal in as many games securing all three points for Neil Lennon’s side.
Wanderers fielded the same starting XI who began the game against Millwall in the club’s last outing, while Emile Heskey took his place amongst the substitutes following confirmation of his international clearance.
The visitors started strongly and almost had the opening goal inside two minutes as Jordan Rhodes connected with Tom Cairney’s cross-goal ball, but the striker’s header crashed against the post to the relief of Wanderers.
Blackburn’s pressure continued with Bolton forced onto the backfoot inside the opening stages of the clash, but Neil Lennon’s side were soon on the attack themselves as Rob Hall’s curling free-kick flew inches wide of Jason Steele’s upright.
Cairney, a major part of Rovers’ early antics, then almost opened the scoring in style with 13 minutes gone as he unleashed a powerful volley on goal from the edge of the box, but Andrew Lonergan was on his guard to palm the ball away from danger.
Darren Pratley, fresh from his first league goal of the season against Millwall last week, collected a clever through ball from Eidur Gudjohnsen shortly after on the corner of the penalty area, only for the midfielder’s effort to narrowly clear the crossbar with Steele untroubled.
No sooner had Wanderers pushed forward however, Ben Marshall looked set to score as he found himself clean through on goal, but the outstretched hand of Lonergan was enough to push his shot around the post.
Gudjohnsen had three quarters of Macron Stadium on their feet with 25 minutes on the clock as he connected with the ball a matter of yards out from goal, but his effort smashed against the advertising hoarding and against the back of the net, with many fans believing it to have gone it.
Straight from the opportunity however, Blackburn were soon back on the attack as Rhodes found himself one on one with the Bolton keeper, only for Lonergan to yet again deny the visitors with another smart save.
As the half wore on, Wanderers began to find their feet more in the clash but it was to be the visitors who broke the deadlock with four minutes of the first period to go as Josh King broke free of the Bolton defence and rounded Lonergan before slotting the ball home.
The goal however wasn’t to thwart the Whites completely, with Lee Chung-Yong forcing a smart save out of Steele from distance a minute after the restart while Liam Feeney’s cross had the Blackburn backline panicking as it bounced off the crossbar.
Try as they might however, Wanderers were unable to force an equalising goal and entered the half time break behind.
The start of the second period saw the introduction of Heskey for his Bolton debut, and the former England international almost made an instant impact as he powered past Grant Hanley before whipping the ball across goal, but Feeney’s eventual effort was into the side netting.
King was again in the thick of the action moments later however, unable to capitalise on a loose ball in the Bolton six yard box with Lonergan scooping the ball to safety.
Heskey almost turned goalscorer with the half 12 minutes old as Josh Vela found the striker with a curled cross into the box, but he was unable to connect strongly with the ball and Steele calmly collected.
Not to be denied however, Heskey had his debut goal on the hour mark as Gudjohnsen found him at the far post, with the frontman given the simple task of slotting the ball home to the delight of the Bolton faithful.
Moments later, the comeback was almost complete as Lee Chung-Yong found himself unmarked a matter of yards from goal, with Adam Henley’s heroics preventing the Korean from giving Wanderers the lead.
His and Blackburn’s efforts were ultimately to be in vain however as just two minutes later, Bolton finally got their noses in front as Darren Pratley collected Dorian Dervite’s knock-down and fired the ball past Steele to send Macron Stadium into raptures.
The visitors themselves thought that they had pulled themselves back onto level terms half way through the second period as Rhodes drilled the ball beyond Lonergan, but the referee deemed that Matt Mills had been fouled in the build-up to the goal.
Blackburn had Wanderers on the backfoot with 17 minutes remaining as, following an initial effort by substitute Rudy Gestede, a goalmouth scramble ensued, but the Whites threw bodies down in a bid to keep out a tirade of attacks and eventually cleared their lines.
Next to try his luck for the visitors was Corry Evans who forced Lonergan into a fine save with a glancing header half way inside the Bolton box.
As the match entered its final ten minutes, Blackburn pushed forward in a bid to force an equalising goal with Rhodes proving himself a nuisance in and around Wanderers’ area, while Gestede also troubled the home side.
With four minutes of added time indicated, Rovers were awarded a free-kick just outside the penalty box which Rhodes took, only for the Bolton wall to do its job to perfection as the referee blew for full time.