Report: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Fleetwood Town
Wanderers picked up their fourth consecutive victory in Sky Bet League One with a 2-1 win over Fleetwood Town at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The deadlock was broken by the visitors just after the half hour mark, with David Ball drilling home on the turn after collecting a loose ball in the Bolton box.
The Whites were level however just five minutes into the second period, with Gary Madine turning the ball home following chaos in the Town box, before Josh Vela drilled home with six minutes of the 90 left – a goal which proved to be the winner come full time.
Zach Clough came into the starting XI for Wanderers, replacing Jamie Proctor in the frontman’s absence through injury.
Former Bolton defender Cian Bolger meanwhile was on the bench for Town following his summer move to Highbury Stadium.
It was Phil Parkinson’s men who started the stronger of the two sides, with a Clough cross being cleared away at the death while David Wheater skewed an effort from close range inside the opening minutes at BL6.
The visitors responded however, with Ashley Hunter unable to control the ball at his feet whilst a matter of yards from goal with the net at his mercy.
With ten minutes on the clock, the home side were left crying for a penalty kick after Mark Davies was brought down inside the area, but the referee instead booked the midfielder for simulation, much to Bolton’s displeasure.
Clear goalmouth action inside the opening quarter of the clash was hard to come by, although David Ball did narrowly fail to make any real connection with a clever ball over the top, eventually producing a tame effort that Mark Howard collected easily.
Wanderers meanwhile were still looking a threat on the counter, with Liam Trotter seeing an effort trickle just wide while Josh Vela saw his shot from a tight angle blocked.
A goalmouth scramble ensued soon after though with 25 minutes on the clock after Howard parried Hunter’s initial shot with Ball unable to turn home the ball from five yards out after chaos in the area.
Wanderers were then dealt a blow on the half hour mark as Clough picked up a knock, with the academy graduate being replace with Kaiyne Woolery.
And just three minutes later, the visitors broke the deadlock after snatching possession on the edge of the area, with Ball drilling home past Howard in the Bolton goalmouth to the delighted of the couple hundred Fleetwood fans.
The hosts were almost level with seven minutes of the half remaining as Mark Beevers rose highest to connect with a Spearing free-kick, only for his header to fall kindly for Chris Neal.
Howard spared Bolton’s blushes shortly before half time meanwhile, with a pass-back on the edge of the box falling for Ball who had been on the floor following a tussle, but the keeper was on his guard to push his shot away from goal and ensure that the deficit was just one at the break.
The second period saw Wanderers start brightly, with Madine forcing a superb save out of Neal who somehow palmed away his header from a Buxton cross.
Almost the perfect response, the equaliser eventually arrived just moments later through the big frontman who slammed home following a scramble inside the six yard area following an initial header from Wheater.
Fully deserved on the part of the Trotters, they were visibly boosted and proceeded to pile the pressure on the visitors who were having to defend in their numbers to keep Parkinson’s men at bay.
Town responded however by introducing fresh legs, with Aaron Amadi-Holloway and Bobby Grant being thrown into the mix with half an hour remaining.
Uwe Rosler’s men meanwhile almost snatched the lead once again shortly after, with Howard parrying Chris Long’s drilled shot from 20 yards away from danger.
Wanderers looked certain to have gone in front with 20 minutes of the game remaining too, with Neal somehow denying Woolery when unsighted and then keeping out Davies’ follow-up with a goal seemingly imminent.
Bolton’s pressure was incessant however, with a Spearing free-kick from the corner of the box narrowly clearing Fleetwood’s goalmouth in the 73rd minute of the game.
It was clear that neither side were happy to settle for a share of the spoils as the game entered its final ten minutes, with Wilkinson being thrown into the mix in place of goalscorer Madine as the home side chased a winning goal.
Fleetwood meanwhile saw a Bobby Grant piledriver pushed over the crossbar by the fingertips of Howard – an effort that would have been in the running for the monthly awards had it found the net.
With just six minutes remaining however, Wanderers had their second and it was Vela who found the net, drilling into the roof of the net from a tight angle after Wilkinson had knocked the ball into his path.
As the clock ran down, it was a case of all hands to the pump for Bolton as Town looked to force a late leveller.
Try as they might however, the visitors couldn’t breach Bolton’s rearguard as the Whites ran out winners at the final whistle.