Report: Bolton 1-2 Leeds United
Wanderers exited the Emirates FA Cup at the fourth round stage following a 2-1 defeat against Leeds United at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors opened the scoring in the ninth minute of the clash, with Souleymane Doukara firing home an angled drive inside the box and their advantage was doubled five minutes before half time as Toumani Diagouraga tapped home after collecting a Mirco Antenucci pass back into the area.
The Whites eventually halved the deficit with ten minutes remaining through Darren Pratley who continued his fine recent form in front of goal by firing into the roof of the net, but despite a late rally, the hosts were unable to force an equaliser.
Wanderers were unchanged from the side who started against MK Dons last weekend, while the only change to the substitutes’ bench was the inclusion of Tom Walker in place of Shola Ameobi whose contract expired with the club earlier this week.
With the sunshine appearing for kick-off at Macron Stadium after torrential rain and hailstone in the build-up to the game, the match got underway with both sides visibly up for the fight.
Neither teams were able to make any real inroads inside the opening stages however, although both Wanderers and Leeds enjoyed forays into their respective penalty areas.
Lewis Cook was the first to have a sight of goal, but his long range effort failed to trouble Ben Amos inside five minutes.
In the ninth minute of the clash however, Leeds drew first blood with Amos unable to take the sting out of Doukara’s angled drive across goal, with the ball bouncing over the keeper and into the net.
Wanderers were almost level just three minutes later however as Gary Madine took advantage of some shaky United defending to loop the ball over his marker just yards out from goal, but the striker somehow put the ball over the goalmouth after losing his balance.
The home side were looking threatening with Steve Evans’ side forced to defend deeply following their opener, as Wellington Silva proved himself a nuisance down the left flank.
Leeds could barely get out of their own half but on a rare counter attack, Mirco Antenucci did force a smart save out of the Bolton keeper at his near post on the 25 minute mark.
Buoyed by their chance, the Elland Road outfit did enjoy a period of possession, but it ultimately produced very little of note in front of goal.
As the first period headed into its closing stages, the visitors continued to push themselves and were rewarded with five minutes of the half remaining as Diagouraga collected Antenucci’s ball into the middle of the 18 yard box, with Leeds’ new signing given the simple task of tapping home past Amos for his first goal for the club.
Wanderers attempted to reduce the deficit before the break, but their efforts proved fruitless as the opening 45 ended with the visitors boasting a two goal lead.
With no changes at the break, the second period got underway to a snow storm at Macron Stadium which played its part in a few players losing their footing early on.
As in the opening stages of the first half, clear cut chances were few and far between but it was Bolton who enjoyed the first opportunity, with Madine seeing his close range shot deflected away for a corner with Marco Silvestri seemingly a beaten man.
Liam Feeney enjoyed an unchallenged run down the right flank soon after, but the winger was unable to find a Bolton shirt in the box with Leeds able to see out the danger.
Wanderers’ pressure continued, although Leeds themselves enjoyed a chance on the hour mark with Scott Wootton somehow putting the ball over the goalmouth after finding himself unmarked 12 yards out.
Giussepe Bellusci meanwhile saw a 25 yard free-kick parried over the crossbar by Amos with the goalkeeper having to be on his guard to keep his effort out.
With 20 minutes to go, Wanderers made their first changes with Jay Spearing and Kaiyne Woolery coming into the mix in place of Mark Davies and Wellington.
Madine came close to halving the deficit once again shortly after following a clever long-throw by Moxey, but Silvestri was alert enough to stop his shot in its tracks.
Frustration was evident for Wanderers, with Feeney drilling wide of the mark after collecting the ball out wide with 15 minutes remaining.
Pratley meanwhile saw his half volley from 12 yards blocked at the death with the Leeds keeper in no man’s land just moments later.
The captain made no mistake at the second attempt however, with him firing into the roof of the net from a matter of yards out with ten minutes remaining to give Bolton hope.
Rejuvenated, Wanderers threw men forward in a bid to force an equaliser with Leeds cooped inside their own penalty area as the 90 minute mark drew near.
And that leveller appeared to have arrived in the 87th minute as Silvestri parried a Pratley shot away from goal, but Madine turned the rebound against the post from close range.
With four additional minutes indicated at the end of the game, Leeds proceeded to halt Bolton’s pressure with a handful of substitutions, but Wanderers still pressured in their numbers.
Their efforts were to prove in vain however as the visitors held out to progress into the fifth round of the competition at Bolton’s expense.