Gary Madine brace secures victory at Vale Park
Bolton Wanderers extended their unbeaten pre-season run to three games as Gary Madine scored a brace to secure victory against Port Vale.
The forward calmly slotted home in the first half from Derik’s through ball before heading home Neil Danns’ cross shortly after the restart.
Sam Foley halved the deficit and there was still time for late drama at Vale Park as the hosts were awarded a stoppage-time penalty, only for Byron Moore to hammer his spot-kick against the bar as Neil Lennon’s side held on to clinch the win.
Mark Davies captained Wanderers as he made his first appearance since the club’s pre-season training camp in Austria.
Liam Trotter was also handed his first start after making his return from injury against Scunthorpe United, while Derik also came back into the starting XI as Neil Lennon made three changes to the side from Friday night.
Wanderers started brightly as they controlled possession from the first whistle during the game’s early moments.
Stringing together a multi-pass move, trialist Lawrie Wilson created the game’s first opening with a whipped cross into the area. However, no Bolton players were on hand to take advantage of Sam Johnson’s uncertainty as the Port Vale goalkeeper fumbled, allowing his defence to clear.
Despite Neil Lennon’s side’s early easy on the ball, it was the hosts who had the first shot on goal through Uche Ikpeazu, however, the Watford loanee could only fire straight at Ben Amos.
The Trotters were nearly gifted the lead just after the ten-minute mark as Richard Duffy’s backpass almost caught Johnson off-guard, only for the Valiants keeper to recover and prevent the ball from crossing the line with his outstretched leg.
At the other end Vale nearly took the lead with their very next attack as Sam Kelly beat Amos with a powerful strike from distance, only to see his effort cannon back off the inside of the post.
The end-to-end nature of the half continued as Ikpeazu headed narrowly wide following a corner, before Gary Madine shrugged off a challenge only to see his subsequent strike on goal well-saved soon after.
Wanderers continued to control possession in midfield as the half wore on but remained frustrated in their efforts to break down the hosts.
Limited to searching for Madine with deep crosses from outwide, the forward found himself isolated upfront as the Vale defence emerged victorious from the early aerial battles.
Later looking to utilise Liam Feeney’s pace in attack, Liam Trotter unleashed his namesake with a clever through-ball, but the forward lacked composure despite finding himself one-on-one, as he failed to hit the target with a chipped effort from outside the area after spotting Johnson off his line.
After seeing Ikpeazu and Byron Moore fail to take advantage of three half-chances for Vale, Bolton took the lead courtesy of a glorious finish from Madine in the 40th minute.
Breaking free after running onto a pinpoint Derik through-ball, the forward took a touch before calmly curling beyond Johnson into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Madine almost had a second on the stroke of half-time as he looked to connect with Wilson’s looping cross, only for his header to deflect off-target – the resulting corner coming to nothing as the Trotters went in at the break a goal to the good.
Continuing where they left off after the interval, Wanderers almost doubled their lead within 60 seconds of the restart as Trotter rose highest to connect with Dean Moxey’s cross at the far post, only to guide his header into the side-netting.
Bolton continued to press in the half’s opening moments and went close again as Mark Davies picked out Feeney on the edge of the area with a short corner. But after cutting in from the left, the forward was unable to keep his strike down as his effort flew harmlessly over the bar.
With their first two chances after the restart, Port Vale won two free-kicks right on the edge of the Trotters penalty-area. However, first Carl Dickinson and then Ikpeazu fired both efforts into the Wanderers wall.
The Valiants were again made to rue missed opportunities as Wanderers doubled their lead with their very next attack as Madine netted his second of the night.
Finding himself unmarked in the centre, the forward powerfully headed Neil Danns’ cross into the bottom corner past the flat-footed Johnson.
Steven Dobbie replaced the returning Davies just after the hour-mark with Danns inheriting the captain’s armband.
Port Vale responded by bringing on Ajay Leitch-Smith and managed to halve the deficit soon after, Sam Foley side-footing home Moore’s mishit shot from close-range.
Rob Holding, Quade Taylor and Filip Twardzik all joined the action with 15 minutes left on the clock as Bolton ended the match with a much-changed defence - Derik, Dorian Dervite and Moxey the men to go off.
And Taylor was thrown into the thick of the action almost immediately as Port Vale pressed forward for an equaliser, clearing a dangerous cross from Moore inside the six-yard box.
The Trotters were given a late scare as Amos was left scrambling back to his line after Dickinson’s chipped effort rebounded back off the bar, though the ex-Manchester United regained composure to gather the ball at the second attempt when under pressure from Leitch-Smith.
Medo and Kaiyne Woolery joined the action in the dying embers of the match, and the latter almost extended Wanderers’ lead after breaking free down the right and trying his luck from an acute angle, only to see Johnson tip his strike wide of the post.
There was still time for late drama at Vale Park as the hosts were awarded a penalty in stoppage-time after Twardzik brought down Enoch Andoh.
Moore stepped up to take the kick, but could only fire his effort against the underside of the bar as Bolton held on to clinch victory and extend their unbeaten pre-season run to three games.
Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Wilson, Dervite (Taylor 75), Derik (Holding 75), Moxey (Twardzik 75), Vela (Medo 80), Trotter (Spearing 70), Danns, Davies (Dobbie 62), Feeney (Woolery 85), Madine.
Unused subs: Fitzsimons.