Report: Brentford 2-2 Bolton
Wanderers picked up a point in a 2-2 draw against Brentford at Griffin Park on Saturday afternoon.
The home side had opened the scoring through Alex Pritchard from close range in the 35th minute, but the Whites were soon back level through Adam Le Fondre’s eighth strike for the club.
With just three minutes to go until the break the Bees were back in front courtesy of Jonathan Douglas’ header, but Bolton earned themselves a deserved share of the spoils in the second half through Mark Davies who capitalised on hesitation by goalkeeper David Button to slot home and secure a point.
Wanderers made five changes to the side who drew with Charlton on Tuesday evening, with Paddy McCarthy, Giles Coke, Oscar Threlkeld, Emile Heskey and Dean Moxey all coming into the fold.
There were also places on the bench for Mark Davies who made his return from injury in midweek alongside Filip Twardzik.
As play got underway at a sun soaked Griffin Park, much of the early play was contested in the middle third of the pitch as both sides settled into the clash with neither goalkeeper called upon inside the opening stages.
The hosts began to forge goalbound soon after however, with Alan Judge’s free-kick from 25 yards forcing a smart save out of Adam Bogdan inside eight minutes.
Emile Heskey, captaining Wanderers for the day, was proving himself a handful for Brentford early on with the burly striker somehow putting his shot wide having been put through by Adam Le Fondre with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The chance seemed to breathe life into the Whites, with Tom Walker shrugging off the challenge of three Brentford men in midfield before narrowly failing to meet an advancing Le Fondre who was powering in on goal.
With the game well and truly alive and kicking, Jota tried his luck from distance for the hosts, only to see his shot fly harmlessly wide of the mark.
The offside flag was proving itself a thorn in the side of Wanderers, with the Trotters seeing themselves denied on numerous occasions by the assistant referee inside the opening quarter of the clash.
Up the other end of the field, Alex Pritchard saw another free-kick from just outside the area clear Bogdan’s crossbar comfortably.
With nothing much between the two sides, Feeney was afforded a glorious opportunity after collecting a clever through ball deep in Brentford territory, but David Button did enough on the half hour mark to stunt his angled effort and take the danger away from any possible rebound from close range.
In the 35th minute however, the deadlock was finally broken as, following a counter attack from Brentford, Pritchard was given acres of space in the box to slam the ball home past Bogdan.
Wanderers’ pleas for a foul in the build-up fell on deaf ears with the goal allowed to stand, but they were inches away from an equaliser two minutes later as Coke found space in the box, only to be denied by a smart one-handed save by Button from ten yards out.
Not to be denied however, the Whites were level moments later as Heskey fed Le Fondre who slotted the ball beyond the helpless Brentford keeper to see his shot nestle in the bottom corner of the goal for his eighth strike since joining the club.
No more than Bolton deserved given their efforts, it was almost undone immediately as Andre Gray hit the post with a venomous strike from just inside the box following a Brentford attack directly from the restart.
Moments later though, the hosts were back in front as Jonathan Douglas’ looping header eluded Bogdan in the Bolton goal to send Griffin Park into raptures with just three minutes to go to the break.
A cruel blow for the Whites, Moxey was then required to leave the field due to injury with Mark Davies taking his place in the midst of Brentford’s celebrations with the defender’s departure the last notable action of the half.
With no changes at the break for either side, the game continued in a similar vein to that of the first period with a wholehearted approach from both teams evident from the outset.
Jota was to enjoy the first clear cut chance of the second period with the half four minutes old, but he was unable to break Bogdan’s resistance with the Hungarian getting down low to deny him.
Wanderers were soon back in the mix themselves however as Threlkeld stoke the ball just outside the penalty area before whipping a cross into the box which Le Fondre eventually skied over the goalmouth under pressure.
The two linked up well again soon after, but the striker struggled to make any real contact with the academy graduate’s effort while only a matter of yards away from the net.
Bolton’s pressure continued with Brentford finding themselves on the backfoot, although the home side were still looking dangerous on the counter attack.
Having withstood a tirade of Bolton attacks, it was then time for the hosts to enjoy a period of sustained possession, albeit one which yielded no real chances for the Bees.
Wanderers were soon back pushing forward themselves though with Feeney a major outlet for the Whites’ attacks, while the 65th minute saw Coke replaced by Eidur Gudjohnsen as Bolton went in search of an equalising goal.
With the game entering its final 20 minutes and with Wanderers continuing to fight, the visitors were finally rewarded an equaliser as Mark Davies capitalised on a poor backpass which Button was unable to reach, with the midfielder given the task of slotting home into the empty net to the delight of the travelling supporters behind the goal.
Buoyed by their leveller, Bolton were clearly not settling for a point as they threw men forward with Feeney narrowly failing to meet an advancing Le Fondre in the box with 12 minutes to go.
With ten minutes left, Saidy Janko was introduced into the mix in place of Threlkeld while Brentford attempted to snatch victory with a thunderous effort from Jake Bidwell alongside Stuart Dallas being penalised for simulation in the box.
As the game entered its final stages, both sides were enjoying opportunities to take all three points as five minutes of added time were indicated with Harlee Dean unable to turn the ball home from close range for Brentford following a goalmouth scramble.
Despite the game finishing with end-to-end attacks however, the spoils were shared at the final whistle.