Report: Bolton 2-1 Blackpool
Jermaine Beckford's strike shortly after half time ensured Wanderers' progression into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 victory over Blackpool at the Reebok Stadium.
The Whites had taken an early lead in the clash through David Ngog's well taken 20 yard strike, only to be pegged back on the stroke of half time as Tom Barkhuizen executed a similarly impressive effort.
Not to be denied however, Bolton overcame their setback just five minutes into the second half as Ngog and Beckford combined with the latter firing Bolton into the draw for the next round.
Dougie Freedman made five changes to the side which drew with Middlesbrough last time out, with Andre Moritz, David Ngog, Jermaine Beckford, the returning Neil Danns and Medo earning a starting berth ahead of Mark Davies, Joe Mason, Chung-Yong Lee, Darren Pratley and Joe Mason.
Wanderers’ bench also saw the inclusion of a number of youngsters from the club’s Under 21 set up, with defenders Cian Bolger and Hayden White joining academy graduate Josh Vela amongst the Bolton substitutes.
Coming into the game having not won in their last seven outings, Blackpool almost stunned the Reebok inside the first minute as Angel Martinez unleashed a powerful shot from just outside the area, but his effort flew inches past the post.
Meanwhile, Wanderers themselves were quickly out of the traps as they counter attacked almost immediately, with Beckford’s volley narrowly failing to hit the target.
A sprightly start from both sides, the Whites looked set to take the lead after a great work from Danns which led to a goalmouth scramble, but neither Chris Eagles nor Moritz could capitalise on some dubious Blackpool defending.
Not to be deterred however, Wanderers finally took advantage of their dominance and did so in style as Ngog fired home from the edge of the penalty area with ten minutes on the clock.
A superb strike by the Frenchman, it was evident that Bolton weren’t satisfied with just the one goal with Beckford’s audacious overhead kick flying just wide of the upright moments later.
The Seasiders just couldn’t seem to cope with Wanderers’ rampant front line, with Ngog and Beckford running the Blackpool defence riot in the home side’s search for a second.
Having been virtually spectators for much of the opening 20 minutes, Ricardo Fuller almost pulled the visitors level as he powered into the Bolton penalty area and saw his effort deflect off Matt Mills, but Andy Lonergan was on hand to scoop the ball to safety.
With the tempo of the game having dropped somewhat, Wanderers almost doubled their advantage as Moritz tried his luck with a 35-yard free-kick on the half hour mark, but the ball trickled agonisingly past the goalmouth with many inside the Reebok already celebrating.
It was clear to see that confidence was oozing amongst the Whites, with each attack looking as though it could result in a goal.
As they had done through Fuller earlier on though, Blackpool went close to equalising as Neal Bishop’s cross was palmed away only a short distance by the Bolton keeper in the 37th minute but nobody was on hand to capitalise, much to Wanderers’ relief.
With it looking as though the Whites would enter the half time break in front however, the Seasiders stunned the Reebok with an impressive effort from Tom Barkhuizen – one which was initially disallowed by the assistant referee, but later given by referee Simon Hooper despite the protestations of the Bolton players.
Having suffered an unfortunate blow on the stroke of half time, Blackpool’s equaliser didn’t seem to have dampened the Whites’ spirits with Moritz flashing an effort past the far post early on in the second period.
It seemed only a matter of time before another goal was added to the score line and Wanderers did duly oblige in the 50th minute after a fantastic run from Ngog, with the striker’s determination and selflessness in front of goal allowing Beckford to slot home from close range.
It was no more than Bolton deserved given their dominance in the clash and Beckford almost had a second as he broke free just moments after the restart, but Gilks was quickly out of his goal to deny him.
With Wanderers settling back into the clash after taking another early lead, Eagles almost put the game to bed in the 63rd minute, but the winger’s shot flashed past the upright with Gilks beaten.
After struggling to force their way into the Bolton penalty area inside the first half of the second period, the Seasiders enjoyed a glorious opportunity to sneak level again as former Wanderer Chris Basham prepared to head home, but Beckford was on hand to clear the ball away.
Blackpool’s sudden revival appeared to stun the home side somewhat, with a tirade of attacks from the visitors forcing the Bolton backline to defend deeply as the clock ran down.
Fuller looked to had drawn Paul Ince’s side level with 13 minutes to go as he unleashed a thunderbolt from close range, but Lonergan parried with ball away with Basham unable to turn in the rebound.
Having almost found themselves conceding an equaliser, Wanderers almost put the result to bed just a minute later as substitute Chung-Yong Lee’s acrobatic volley thundered against the far post.
With time running out, Blackpool went close yet again only to be denied by a superb reflex save by Lonergan while Jack Robinson tested the Bolton keeper with a piledriver from distance.
Danns looked set to make it three for Wanderers in stoppage time only to be denied by Gilks, but it wasn't to prove important as Bolton held out to progress to the fourth round.