Report: Bolton 3-2 Eastleigh
Wanderers booked their place in the fourth round of the Emirates FA Cup with a 3-2 third round replay victory over Eastleigh at Macron Stadium.
In a first period packed with goals, the visitors drew first blood in the clash with Joe Partington curling home the ball past Paul Rachubka with 11 minutes on the clock, only to be pegged back by a Gary Madine volley inside the latter stages of the half.
Dean Moxey’s first goal in 15 months however appeared to have given Bolton a half-time lead with 43 minutes gone, but Kaid Mohamed drew the Spitfires level inside stoppage time for a 2-2 scoreline at the break.
The Trotters restored their advantage just 13 minutes into the second half however with Darren Pratley and Shola Ameobi combining for the skipper to slot home and set up a fourth round tie at home to Leeds United next weekend.
Goalkeeper Rachubka came in from the off for Wanderers with Ben Amos suspended, while Mark Davies was also in the Whites' starting XI.
On the bench meanwhile, there was a first competitive inclusion in the first team’s matchday squad for academy graduate Harry Campbell.
Wanderers started brightly, with both Liam Feeney and Madine narrowly missing out on capitalising on long balls downfield inside the opening stages of the clash.
The visitors were attempting to make their own mark on the game early on, but their efforts ultimately led to nothing much with the Bolton defence standing firm.
Out of nowhere however, the Spitfires took the lead against the run of play in the 11th minute as Partington cut into the area from the right and curled the ball into Rachubka’s bottom corner to the delight of the travelling Eastleigh fans.
A shock to the system for Wanderers, they immediately responded with a tirade of pressure which saw Chris Todd’s side defend deeply in a bid to maintain their advantage.
With the half reaching its midway point however, Bolton still found themselves behind with the visitors proving a source of frustration under Macron Stadium’s floodlights.
Chances in front of goal were few and far between for both sides, with Rachubka remaining untested while Jai Reason saw a shot from just inside the box blocked at range by Dorian Dervite.
Up the other end of the field meanwhile, Feeney provided a pinpoint cross for Madine who was shrugging off the challenge of his marker at the edge of the six yard box, but the striker’s eventual header bounced into the ground and narrowly wide of the mark.
With six minutes of the half remaining however, Wanderers were level through Madine who collected Josh Vela’s cross from the right, volleyed the ball on his chest and rifled home from six yards past a helpless Ross Flitney.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Bolton pushed in search of a second goal before half time with Wellington Silva seeing a free-kick from just outside the area pushed over the bar by the Eastleigh goalkeeper.
From the resulting corner however, the home side had the ball in the back of the net in style as Moxey collected the ball 25 yards out and fired home to the delight of the home fans to put the Whites in front.
In first half stoppage time however, the visitors were back level through Mohamed who chased down the ball following a quick one-two with Reason and fired beyond Rachubka to ensure that the scores were level at the break.
With no changes at the break from either side, the second half began with Wanderers in the ascendancy.
And the first chance for the home side came in the form of Feeney who, following good hold up play by Madine, found himself with only the keeper to beat from a tight angle, only to blast his effort into the side netting.
An early injury to Madine meanwhile saw the introduction of Shola Ameobi into the mix with the game 51 minutes old, with the frontman slotting into his teammate’s spot.
Shortly after, both Pratley and Trotter came close with a header halfway inside the area, only for the pair’s combined efforts seeing that the ball fly over the crossbar.
It was certainly a combative tie with tackles aplenty flying in as Wanderers pushed to restore their lead, with a goal eventually arriving on 58 minutes as Pratley played a clever one-two with Ameobi before drilling home from 12 yards.
Ameobi almost turned goalscorer on the hour mark, but Flitney was out quickly to grasp his looping header to safety.
Not content with their one goal advantage, Wanderers pushed in a bid to extend their lead with a number of chances going begging as Flitney and his defence looked shaky at the back.
The pressure continued, with Eastleigh virtually penned in their own half of the pitch as Bolton looked to add to their tally, although a rare attack saw Reason’s drive blocked in the box by Holding with 12 minutes to go.
In the 81st minute, some clever play by Feeney almost led to Wanderers’ fourth as he shrugged off the challenge of two men to power into the box where he found Davies, but the midfielder’s lay-off found the former whose shot was blocked.
The latter stages of the tie saw the introduction of Kaiyne Woolery for Bolton, with the youngster almost teeing up Feeney for a goal shortly after.
With three minutes of additional time indicated, the visitors threw everybody forward in a last ditch attempt to force extra time in the clash, but their efforts were to prove fruitless as they failed to trouble Bolton and Rachubka as Neil Lennon's side booked their place in the next round.