Report: Bolton 3-2 Rotherham
Joe Mason’s hat-trick ensured that Wanderers ran out 3-2 winners in a pulsating game against Rotherham United at Macron Stadium.
The Millers had taken the lead through Anthony Wordsworth’s first half free-kick, but Wanderers were back on level terms following the restart through Mason’s driven effort.
The striker then proceeded to head the Whites into the lead, only for Jordan Bowery to pull Rotherham back into the clash a matter of minutes later.
Not to be denied however, Mason completed his treble with five minutes remaining to become the first Bolton player since Fredi Bobic to notch a competitive hat-trick for the club.
Craig Davies returned to the starting line-up for Wanderers after featuring as a substitute in the weekend’s draw with Sheffield Wednesday, while Neil Danns and Darren Pratley also made the team from the offset.
Wanderers began the game strongly, with Dean Moxey and Danns combining to tee up Pratley inside three minutes, but the midfielder was unable to get his header on target under pressure from a duo of Rotherham defenders.
The chance appeared to give the Whites a boost in confidence, with Jay Spearing’s wicked swinging cross into the box narrowly eluded a crowd of Bolton bodies in the eighth minute with Adam Collin stranded.
With Rotherham struggling to take the ball out of their own half and the Trotters ruling proceedings, Joe Mason looked destined to fire the home side into the lead with 12 minutes gone, only to see his effort deflect into the side netting from close range.
Having failed to trouble Wanderers inside the opening stages, the visitors almost snatched an unlikely lead in the 16th minute as Paul Taylor’s free-kick was awkwardly hacked away by Matt Mills at the back post.
Wanderers were soon back on the attack however, with Craig Davies firing his effort from just outside the area from a tight angle narrowly away of the upright while Danns dragged a shot from a similar position just wide.
Despite their dominance in proceedings, Wanderers were still left searching for the opening goal of the night and were dealt a bitter blow with 33 minutes gone as Anthony Wordsworth fired home past Andrew Lonergan with a free-kick on the edge of the area.
A goal which came against the run of play, the Whites pushed immediately in a bid to bring themselves back onto level terms with Danns’ driven effort from 25 yards whistling inches wide of Collin’s post with seven minutes of the half remaining.
With minutes of the half to go and Wanderers battling to notch an equalising goal, Spearing saw his shot from 20 yards deflect into the arms of Collin, but the visitors held out to preserve their advantage at the break.
Having ended strongly, Bolton almost had an equaliser within two minutes of the restart as Mason collected Craig Davies’ knock-down, but Collin was on his guard to parry the striker’s effort away from goal with the Macron faithful ready to celebrate.
Just a matter of minutes later, Tim Ream almost opened his Bolton account in style as he raced down the right flank before cutting inside and unleashing goalwards, only to see the Rotherham goalkeeper deny him.
Rotherham themselves were soon testing Lonergan once again however, with Taylor’s effort crashing against the post with 55 minutes on the clock following his powerful angled drive.
Wanderers were soon back on the attack though with Craig Davies muscling his way past his man on the byline, but Spearing was unable to turn the ball home from close range as a crowd of Rotherham bodies were blocking his path.
The introduction of Lee Chung-Yong and Liam Feeney just short of the hour mark in place of Danns and Pratley however reaped immediate dividends as Mason rifled the ball home from just outside the penalty area past a helpless Collin to bring Wanderers back on level terms.
A deserved goal given the Whites’ efforts throughout the clash, the comeback was almost complete five minutes later as Feeney found Chung-Yong in the six yard box, but the winger just couldn’t control the ball with only the keeper to beat.
With Wanderers visibly boosted by their equalising strike, Feeney almost had a goal of his own with 20 minutes left of the clash as he cut inside his man and fired towards the net, only to see Collin get down low to keep his effort out.
With 13 minutes to go, Frazer Richardson almost turned home Chung-Yong’s tantalising cross into the box, with Collin being forced to palm his own player’s unintentional effort out for a corner.
Having pushed Rotherham for the duration of the half however, Wanderers finally got their noses in front in the 80th minute as Mason glanced a header home from Spearing’s pin-point corner kick.
Out of nowhere though, the visitors were back on level terms as substitute Jordan Bowery fired past Lonergan just two minutes after falling behind.
Not to be deterred however, the Whites retook the lead moments after the restart with Mason remarkably notching his hat-trick, firing home from close range after Collin had parried a shot in a crowded penalty area.
With the clock ticking down, the visitors pushed forward in a bid to once again force an equalising goal, but they were almost undone on the counter as Chung-Yong fed Mason, but the striker couldn’t notch his fourth as he dragged his effort wide of the far post.
Rotherham somehow had the back of the net yet again a minute into five minutes of added time through Bowery again, but the assistant’s flag denied them their third goal of the game.
In a pandemonium filled period of added time, Mason went close to adding to his tally yet again, only to be denied by Collin, while the Millers themselves forced the ball over the line after a foul had been given on Lonergan.
Despite the madness however, Wanderers held out to pick up three points at Macron Stadium.