Report: Bolton 2-1 Scunthorpe United
Wanderers ended 2016 in Sky Bet League One's top two following the most dramatic of victories over Scunthorpe United at Macron Stadium on New Year's Eve.
Phil Parkinson’s men broke the deadlock inside 17 minutes and did so in style, with Josh Vela thundering home on the half volley from all of 20 yards.
The visitors levelled shortly after the hour mark through Neal Bishop from close range, but James Henry had the last word deep into injury time to earn all three points for the Trotters.
Wanderers were unchanged in regards to their starting XI and substitutes from Monday’s league clash with Shrewsbury Town.
The first period got underway and it was the visitors who enjoyed the first notable chance as Paddy Madden saw a thunderous shot from just inside the box palmed away by Alnwick.
Wanderers were soon at it themselves however, with Zach Clough snapping an effort wide of the upright inside six minutes.
The chance visibly buoyed the Whites and certainly brought the game to life, with a number of tasty tackles flying in thereafter.
And the deadlock was broken inside 17 minutes as Gary Madine knocked the ball into the path of the advancing Vela who thundered home on the half volley from all of 20 yards with Luke Daniels left helpless in the United goal.
It was almost two soon after as the two combined once again with Madine this time producing the goalbound effort, only to see his shot hooked off away at the death.
The visitors meanwhile appeared to have levelled against the run of play in the 25th minute following a Josh Morris free-kick into the area, but the assistant referee’s flag was already up before the ball had hit the back of the net.
That chance led to a period of pressure from the Iron, with Wanderers being forced onto the back foot momentarily.
Bolton were soon back on the attack though, with Clough lifting the ball narrowly over the crossbar on the half hour mark after snaking his way into the box.
As the remainder of the first period ebbed away, Sammy Ameobi tried his luck from a tight angle on the edge of the box but Daniels was on his guard.
Come half time however, the Trotters’ advantage was just the one goal.
With no changes at the break, the game restarted and Bolton were the team to enjoy a first sight of goal.
Ultimately, nothing came from that move and thereafter, Scunthorpe enjoyed a period of possession which didn’t bring too much in the way of goalmouth action.
On the stroke of the hour though, it was very much the visitors who were knocking on the door with a header from a corner being nodded off the line by Madine.
The Bolton faithful were in fine voice amongst a crowd of over 17,000 at Macron Stadium, while Alnwick tipped a looping Morris header over the crossbar soon after.
With the game 62 minutes old however, the Iron were level as Bishop collected a loose ball in the Bolton box and thundered home into the roof of the net from close range.
The pressure cooker that was the game was building, with Mark Beevers receiving a caution following a clash of heads with Sam Mantom shortly after.
After that break in play, Bolton were able to regain their composure and set about finding a winner in the clash inside the final quarter.
Frustration was evident for both sides, with Clough tumbling under pressure from two United bodies deep inside the box but the referee was unmoved in regards to Bolton’s claims for a penalty kick.
With the game inside its final ten minutes, it was a case of all hands to the pump and Wanderers were left calling for another spot-kick as Bishop blocked a Tom Thorpe thunderbolt inside the box, with Bolton believing a hand had been used.
Thorpe meanwhile saw a header from a corner glance agonisingly wide of Daniels' far post with three minutes to go.
With six minutes added meanwhile, it was a case of now or never for the Whites.
And in the fourth minute, Bolton were rewarded as substitute Henry's deflected shot eluded Daniels to earn the most dramatic of victories.
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