Report: Bolton 1-0 Blackburn Rovers
Wanderers picked up their first victory since September with a hard-fought 1-0 derby win over Blackburn Rovers at Macron Stadium on Monday lunchtime.
In a goalless first half, Bolton came close through Gary Madine with the frontman seeing his rebound from Zach Clough’s shot against the post cleared off the line.
Madine didn’t make the same mistake twice however as with 13 minutes remaining, he controlled a throw-in inside the six yard box, turned his man and volleyed past a static Jason Steele to send Macron Stadium into raptures and earn the Whites three vital points.
Wanderers’ starting XI boasted four changes to the side who figured from the off against Rotherham on Boxing Day with Mark Davies, Josh Vela, Prince-Desire Gouano and Madine all coming into the mix from the first whistle.
The visitors meanwhile boasted the inclusion of former Bolton loanee Danny Guthrie in their own line-up with the midfielder having spent a season with the club during the 2007/08 campaign.
Inside the opening stages, neither side could really force their way inside each team’s respective penalty areas with Ben Marshall’s thunderous strike with three minutes gone failing to trouble Ben Amos as the game began to gather pace.
The best chance of the match so far however came in the eighth minute as firstly Zach Clough hit the post following a superb run by Davies down the left flank, with Madine seeing the resulting rebound effort hooked off the goal line with the Bolton faithful already on their feet.
The chance gave Wanderers a much needed boost, with Blackburn forced on the backfoot as the home side’s confidence visibly grew with each passing move.
Unable to broach their rearguard during that spell however, the game calmed down somewhat as both teams took stock of proceedings.
The visitors themselves them found some opportunities to open the game up as the first period reached its halfway point although Wanderers were holding their own in defence with Guthrie’s drive in a crowded penalty area the closest they came.
It was certainly feisty stuff out there on the pitch with Rovers left scrambling to clear their lines after Madine had met a Liam Feeney cross with a looping header back into the six yard box just short of the half hour mark.
The home fans were certainly in good voice throughout the clash with Wanderers feeding off their support when on the attack.
Clear cut chances however were few and far between as the clock ran down to half time with each goalkeeper remaining virtually untroubled between their respective sticks.
Jordan Rhodes almost snatched an unlikely lead for the visitors with four minutes to go until half time as Blackburn broke forward in numbers with Rovers’ leading scorer seeing his eventual shot ricochet into the face of Prince and into the waiting arms of Amos.
That was to be the last action of the half however as Fode Koita was forced from the field for Rovers just a minute prior to the referee’s whistle for the break.
With no changes for either side, the second half got underway with Wanderers visibly gunning from the outset as they threw men forward in a bid to break the deadlock.
Feeney was to enjoy the first chance of the second period, but the winger’s shot flew harmlessly over Jason Steele’s crossbar in the 48th minute of the game.
Frustration was evident for Wanderers with Davies’ booking for an apparent dive just minutes later leaving the midfielder and Macron faithful dumbfounded.
Up the other end meanwhile, Shane Duffy saw his glancing header fly just wide of the far post for the visitors.
It was end to end stuff, with Clough latching onto a clever downfield ball from Moxey just short of the hour mark, but unsupported, the striker was forced to go it alone and failed to trouble Steele.,
Marcus Olsson also tried his luck for Blackburn, with the Swede’s thunderous half volley from just inside the box being comfortably saved by Amos.
It was still a tightly contested affair, with the game balanced finely on a knife edge as it ventured into its final 20 minutes.
With 13 minutes left however, the deadlock was finally broken as Madine turned his man in the area and volleyed home past a static Steele to send Macron Stadium into raptures.
A deserved goal for Wanderers, Blackburn responded and threw men forward as the game headed into its final stages with the Whites forced to defend deeply.
It was all hands to the pump for Bolton with everybody putting their bodies on the line in a bid to preserve the slender advantage.
With five minutes of additional time indicated, Rovers saw an effort crash against the post through Tom Lawrence with Amos able to gather at the second attempt to the relief of Wanderers.
Try as they might however, Rovers were unable to force a way through as the Whites held out for all three points.
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