Report: Sheff Wed 1-2 Bolton
Early first half goals from Liam Feeney and Darren Pratley proved decisive in a closely-contested affair against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
Bolton controlled much of the first half and raced into a two-goal lead inside the opening 25 minutes in snowy conditions.
But Wednesday pulled one back before half time and despite controlling much of the second period were unable to break down a resolute Bolton backline.
Neil Lennon made two changes to the side that had previously played out a 1-1 draw with Leeds United at Macron Stadium.
Craig Davies and David Wheater came into the starting XI in place of Liam Trotter and Eidur Gudjohnsen, who were both on the bench.
Emile Heskey retained his spot upfront.
Wanderers couldn’t have asked for a better start in South Yorkshire.
Josh Vela, deployed in a central midfield role, harried a Sheffield Wednesday defender into an error on the edge of his own area. A loose ball then fell the way of Feeney who duly dispatched low into Kieren Westwood’s far corner.
Bolton didn’t let up and inside the opening 15 minutes it was as if they had an extra man on the pitch. Darren Pratley, Neil Danns and Vela snapped into a series early 50-50s, as the hosts struggled to get going.
A bobbly playing surface made for difficult playing conditions, and midway through the first half that significantly worsened midway through the half when a snowstorm whipped around the stadium bowl.
Chances remained few and far between. Vela crashed a shot from the right channel into Glenn Loovens after some neat hold up play from Heskey, whilst Wednesday threatened with a flurry of corner kicks.
Heskey then shanked a shot wide, but moments was on point to provide the assist for Bolton’s second.
The 37-year-old rose well to flick on a clipped ball forward. Pratley reacted quicker than everyone around him, poking the bouncing ball over an onrushing defender and rifling home.
But Wednesday responded on the half hour, and were awarded a penalty kick when Feeney was adjudged to have upended Maguire. He dusted himself down to dispatch from 12 yards into Andrew Lonergan’s far corner.
The remainder of the half passed without any real incident.
Davies did have a brief sight of goal following a swift counter attack, though his eventual shot was tame and easily held by Westwood.
The home fashioned the opening opportunity of the second period.
Beanpole striker Atdhe Nuhiu glanced on Maguire’s cross from the right, with Lonergan flying left to save.
Up the other end Westwood then produced a save straight out of the top drawer to deny Davies, who had been sent in the clear after a clever slide rule ball from Vela.
As the game passed the hour mark the hosts began to turn the screw and saw more of the ball, through struggled to really trouble a resolute Bolton rearguard.
Wednesday introduced a couple of substitutes in an attempt to mix up their attacking options, and despite dropping deeper into their own half, Bolton stood strong.
Bolton did force successive corner kicks, with Westwood on hand to first claw away Davies’ header and then tip Pratley’s volley from distance around the post.
In the final ten minutes Wednesday peppered the Bolton area.
Sub Lewis Baker seemed destined to crash home a loose ball inside the box, only for Matt Mills to block at very last moment.
There was still time for Owls sub Hutchinson to collect his second booking for a lunge on Vela.
The ten men then had a late goal disallowed for offside and hit the crossbar, as Bolton held on to collect all three points.
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