Report: Bolton 3-1 MK Dons
Wanderers picked up all three points with a 3-1 victory over MK Dons at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Bolton started the brighter of the two sides and were rewarded inside six minutes when Rob Holding poked home from close range for his first senior goal for the club.
That advantage was then doubled just shortly before half time, with Darren Pratley continuing his purple patch in front of goal when he drilled home from a tight angle.
Dons did halve the deficit a minute from time through Josh Murphy from long range, but Shola Ameobi ensured that he book ended his time with the club in the perfect fashion with Wanderers’ third on the stroke of the 90 to make sure of the win for Neil Lennon’s side.
There was just one change for Wanderers from the side who started against Eastleigh in the Emirates FA Cup in midweek with Ben Amos returning to the starting XI after serving his suspension.
Gary Madine meanwhile was given the thumbs up to feature after being substituted through injury against the Spitfires and took his place up front for the Whites.
It was a tight affair inside the opening stages of the clash with both sides taking tentative steps to wean themselves in to proceedings.
But it was Wanderers who drew first blood in the sixth minute, with Holding capitalising on a Madine header cannoning off the crossbar to drill home from a yard out and send Macron Stadium into raptures.
The academy graduate’s first senior goal for the club, the visitors were left calling for an apparent foul on goalkeeper David Martin but referee Kevin Wright remained unmoved and the goal stood.
Although visibly buoyed by their opener, Wanderers still had to be on their guard with Dons rallying themselves and seeing a Joe Walsh header from a corner kick skim off the woodwork with 16 minutes on the clock.
The tempo of the game appeared to drop a little as the first period reached its halfway point, although it was Bolton asking all of the questions.
Karl Robinson’s side were struggled to break past a resolute Wanderers defence, while on the occasions that they did breach the home team’s rear guard, they were unable to trouble Ben Amos with the goalkeeper remaining untested.
As the game reached the half hour mark, the home side almost had a second, only to see Madine’s header from a corner cleared off the line by Jake Forster-Caskey with Martin a mere spectator between the sticks.
Moments later, Wellington Silva got in on the action with the winger forcing Martin into a smart save down at his near post.
It was Wanderers who looked to more likely to add to the scoreline, with Wellington trying his luck from just outside the box with his shot taking a deflection and narrowly eluding the goalmouth.
And add to their advantage they did with four minutes of the half to go, with Pratley firing home, with the help of a deflection, to put Wanderers two goals to the good.
The skipper almost had a second on the stroke of half time, with his header from a Feeney corner nestling onto the roof of the net with Martin stretching to keep it out, while the latter chased a clever ball downfield before firing wide of the mark.
Confidence was bubbling for Bolton and it seemed as though they didn’t want the half to end, but end it did with them comfortably in control of proceedings.
With no changes at the break for either side, the second period got underway with Bolton almost having a third inside the opening stages, with firstly Trotter and then Holding firing just wide from ten and 18 yards respectively.
Just the response which the home fans craved after an impressive first period, the siege continued with Dean Moxey and Madine forcing Martin into successive saves with his defence at sixes and sevens.
It was all Bolton, with Dons struggling to contain the home side who weren’t content to sit on their lead as it was.
With the game reaching its hour mark, tempers were flaring with Samir Carruthers receiving a booking for a rash challenge on Wellington which led to the Brazilian receiving treatment.
Wanderers weren’t for letting up however, with each passing attack making them look likelier to add to their lead.
On the rare occasions that Dons managed to forge their way into Bolton territory however, Amos was called upon to punch an angled Dean Bowditch lob away from danger.
Up the other end of the field meanwhile, Moxey almost forced Darren Potter to put through his own goal as the Dons man sliced his attempted clearance, with Madine unable to force the ball home inside the six yard box.
Wellington meanwhile was single-handedly tormenting the visitors with his trickery, with them unable to keep tabs on the on-loan Arsenal man.
Twelve minutes from time saw the introduction of Shola Ameobi in place of Madine for the frontman to make his final bow for the club ahead of his contract expiration, with Trotter driving an effort just over the bar moments later.
Ameobi almost had the perfect ending with seven minutes remaining as Mark Davies found the striker with only the keeper to beat, but Martin did well to block his angled strike.
Wellington meanwhile received a standing ovation from the home faithful when he was replaced by Jay Spearing four minutes from time, a deserved one given his efforts throughout the clash.
A goalmouth scramble ensued in the 88th minute with a third goal seemingly imminent for the home side as both Davies and Spearing were denied.
Out of nowhere however, the visitors halved the deficit through Murphy who fired home from just outside the area.
With four minutes of additional time indicated, Dons rallied but were hit on the counter as Ameobi brought the curtain down on his time with the club in style as he chased a long ball down the left flank, cut inside his man and curled the ball into the bottom corner of the net to the sheer delight of the home faithful to make sure of victory for Wanderers