Report: Bolton 3-1 Brentford
Bolton Wanderers marked Neil Lennon’s first home game in charge of the club with victory as they ran out 3-1 winners over Brentford at Macron Stadium.
Neil Danns had opened the scoring for Bolton from 25 yards, while Mark Davies doubled the Whites’ advantage with a well taken strike shortly after coming on as a substitute.
The visitors did halve the deficit through Jon Toral late on, but Wanderers were to have the final say as Craig Davies broke free and with goalkeeper David Button backtracking, the striker rolled the ball home from distance to secure all three points for Bolton.
Wanderers saw Tim Ream return to the starting line-up, while Joe Mason also made the team from the off having sat out the Whites’ midweek trip to the capital to face Charlton Athletic.
There were also places on the bench for Robert Hall, Josh Vela and Max Clayton.
Bolton were out of the traps almost immediately, with Jermaine Beckford’s rebounded effort falling to the feet of Lee Chung-Yong inside the first minute, but the Korean was unable to turn the ball home under pressure from the Brentford defence.
The visitors almost stunned Macron Stadium moments later however, with Andrew Lonergan needing to be on his guard to turn Jota’s drilled angled effort around the post.
Following an explosive start to proceedings, the game appeared to fall into a lull of sorts with neither side really troubling either goalkeeper early on.
Having threatened early on, Jota was to prove to be a nuisance for Wanderers yet again with 12 minutes gone as he smashed his half volley from a tight angle goalwards, only for the body of Kevin McNaughton to block the ball and send it out for a corner kick.
After withstanding a period of pressure from the Bees, Wanderers themselves almost took the lead in emphatic fashion as, following Joe Mason’s own chance in the box, the ball fell for Darren Pratley whose acrobatic overhead kick flew narrowly wide of the mark with David Button stranded.
Not to be deterred, Brentford enjoyed a glorious opportunity of their own with 20 minutes on the clock as Alex Pritchard found himself in space just inside the area, only for him to slam the ball down the throat of Lonergan.
Neil Danns, an early threat for Wandereres, tried his luck from the edge of the box after turning his man, but Button was alert to get down low and keep the midfielder’s drive out of the net.
As the half wore on, Bolton became visibly more confident and almost capitalised on some slack Brentford defending as Chung-Yong dispossessed his man and powered towards goal before playing the ball into the box, but Wanderers were unable to convert the excellent chance.
With seven minutes of the half remaining, the trio of Chung-Yong, Danns and Spearing each tried their luck from distance in quick succession, but their efforts were blocked by a stubborn Brentford backline.
Chung-Yong, a constant thorn in the side of Brentford, won the ball again deep in Brentford territory with moments to go to the break and played the ball into the path of the advancing and unmarked Beckford, but the frontman was unable to hit the ball first time and saw his eventual effort blocked.
The visitors did enjoy a chance of their own before the half time whistle was blown as Alan Judge unleashed from distance, but Lonergan was on hand to palm the ball away from goal to ensure the half ended goalless.
Having ended the first period on the front foot, Brentford started the second half strongly too with Jota, Alan Judge and Pritchard pushing Wanderers deep early on.
The early chances appeared to buoy the visiting side, but Wanderers still looked dangerous on the break with Mason proving himself to be a handful as he won a corner kick which Matt Mills headed agonisingly wide of the upright.
The opportunity visibly boosted Bolton, with Beckford’s powerful run down the left flank and consequent cross forcing Button into a smart save to keep out Danns’ resulting drive.
With the Macron faithful in good voice and Wanderers pushing forward in their numbers, Jake Bidwell almost turned home a Pratley cross under pressure from Mason, but his blushes were spared as the ball trickled out for a corner.
Having piled the pressure on, it came as no surprise in the 61st minute as Danns’ 25-yard effort nestled into the bottom corner of Button’s net, with the Brentford keeper given no chance.
No more than Wanderers deserved, the goal sent Macron Stadium into raptures and it was almost a second moments later as Beckford fed Danns who found himself unmarked sprinting towards goal, but the goalscorer held onto the ball just a little too long and was unable to get his shot on.
Once play had been resumed following lengthy treatment to a Brentford man, Wanderers were soon on the front foot once more with Spearing skipping inside the area with ease, but the captain’s final effort rippled the side netting with the Brentford defence at sixes and sevens.
It seemed only a matter of time before Wanderers extended their lead, and they did so in style with 15 minutes to go as Mark Davies, a second half substitute, weaved his way inside the box before calmly curling the ball past the Brentford keeper.
Not ready to lie down, Brentford hit back and almost had a lifeline with 11 minutes to go as Jonathan Douglas headed goalbound, but Lonergan was on hand to calmly tip the ball over the crossbar and maintain Wanderers’ two goal advantage.
Their efforts were to finally reap dividends however with seven minutes left as, with virtually his first touch of the game, substitute Jon Toral slammed the ball past the Bolton keeper to halve the deficit and bring Brentford back into the clash.
Wanderers then proceeded to find themselves under some pressure late on, with Brentford throwing everybody forward in a bid to salvage a point from the game, but the Whites were soon back on the attack with Chung-Yong are the forefront of the action.
With seven minutes of added time indicated, the Brentford pressure continued with a barrage of balls into the Bolton penalty area, with goalkeeper Button even getting in on the action, but their openness at the back was ultimately their downfall as Craig Davies broke away and rolled the ball into an empty net from all of 40 yards to secure all three points for Wanderers.