Report: Bolton 1-2 Norwich
Wanderers were denied a share of the spoils at the death as Norwich City ran out 2-1 winners at Macron Stadium.
The visitors had opened the scoring inside nine minutes courtesy of Graham Dorrans’ heavily deflected free-kick, but the Whites were soon back level through Adam Le Fondre who slotted home from Tom Walker’s cross.
Bolton did come close to a winner in the second period with Le Fondre seeing his header cleared off the line, but they were to be denied a point deep into stoppage time as, against the run of play, Gary Hooper lobbed Adam Bogdan to snatch the victory.
Eidur Gudjohnsen took charge of the armband for Wanderers, while Dean Moxey, Liam Feeney and Adam Le Fondre came into the starting XI in place of Matt Mills, Saidy Janko and Craig Davies.
There was also a place on the bench for Mark Davies as he continued his comeback from a knee injury.
The game began with vigour at a sun-soaked Macron Stadium, with the visitors seeing more of the ball inside the opening stages of the clash although Wanderers were standing firm at the back.
The Whites were soon on the attack themselves however, with Emile Heskey causing problems for the Norwich defence with his aerial presence.
Out of nowhere however, the visitors broke the deadlock in the ninth minute as his free-kick from 20 yards deflected off the wall, wrong-footing Adam Bogdan in the process with the Hungarian helpless to prevent the goal.
The keeper was next called upon only minutes later, this time doing well to palm away a thunderous Jonny Howson effort from all of 25 yards out.
Buoyed by their opener, Norwich continued to pressurise Wanderers with the Bolton backline being forced to defend deeply.
Having found themselves on the back-foot, the hosts were level in the 18th minute of the clash as Tom Walker shrugged off the challenge of his man before whipping a perfectly executed ball across the face of goal, with Le Fondre given the simple task of poking home beyond John Ruddy.
The comeback was almost complete just a few minutes later as, with Walker yet again in the thick of the action, Liam Feeney saw his shot from the academy graduate fly narrowly wide of the Norwich upright.
Visibly boosted, Wanderers were enjoying the lion’s share of possession although the Canaries were still looking dangerous on the break with Jerome lurking while Nathan Redmond’s long range free-kick cleared the crossbar by a matter of inches.
Up the other end of the field however, Walker continued his one man siege on Norwich’s defence, with his cross deflecting dangerously into the mix with Feeney in prime position, only for Sebastien Bassong to clear his lines at the death.
With just seven minutes of the half remaining, Jerome almost capitalised on some lax Bolton defending as he collected a loose ball in the box, but the Norwich forward couldn’t foil Bogdan with the keeper getting down low to deny him.
With the half drawing nearer to its conclusion, both sides enjoyed opportunity to add to the scoring but were ultimately thwarted come the whistle.
With no changes at the break from either side, Norwich were to enjoy the first notable opportunity of the second period as Tim Ream and Barry Bannan were forced to block Steven Whittaker’s close range effort.
Wanderers were soon back on the attack however, with Walker again proving himself to be a thorn in Norwich’s side in and around the box.
Once back in the ascendancy, the Whites were putting the Canaries under some real pressure although Redmond did trouble Bogdan on a rare Norwich attack, only to see Moxey deflect his shot away for a corner kick with the half 12 minutes old.
Le Fondre was then denied his second of the game shortly before the hour mark as his header was cleared off the line at the death, while Josh Vela did superbly well to keep substitute Lewis Grabban away from goal moments later following a Norwich break.
Dorrans almost doubled his own tally with a narrow angled effort in the 64th minute, only to see a combination of goalkeeper and defence keep his effort out of the net.
Ruddy was almost made to pay for poor positioning shortly after as Le Fondre collected the ball on the right flank and attempted to elude the shot-stopper with a lobbed effort, but the one-time England international managed to recover and smothered the ball at the death.
With the game entering its final 20 minutes, it was clear to see that neither side were ready to settle for a solitary point although clear cut opportunities were few and far between with each defence standing firm.
The Whites then made their first change of the afternoon with Neil Danns replacing Gudjohnsen, while Norwich squandered a number of changes from distance with Jerome and Dorrans firing harmlessly wide of the mark.
Le Fondre almost handed Bannan the chance to win the game on a plate with two minutes remaining as he powered down the wing before playing the ball into the mix, but the midfielder was narrowly beaten to it with Ruddy stranded.
With five minutes time added on at the end of the game, Wanderers threw men forward in a bid to snatch all three points but were undone on the break as substitute Hooper lobbed Bogdan to send the travelling supporters into raptures and snatch all three points.