Report: Nottingham Forest 3-0 Bolton
Ten-man Wanderers suffered a 3-0 reverse at the hands of Nottingham Forest at The City Ground on Saturday afternoon.
The home side were the first to draw blood in the clash with 12 minutes on the clock as Ben Amos was deemed to have brought down Jamie Ward, with him receiving a straight red card and conceding a penalty which Nelson Castro Oliveira placed past substitute keeper Paul Rachubka.
Their lead was doubled just four minutes later, Ward this time turning provider as his cross found Oliver Burke who nodded home from close range while the former added a third in the 83rd minute of the game to condemn Bolton to defeat.
Wanderers’ starting XI was unchanged from the team’s midweek trip to Sheffield Wednesday, with the only difference from the matchday squad against the Owls being Mark Davies on the bench ahead of the injured Zach Clough.
At a sunny yet chilly City Ground, the match got underway with something of a tentative approach from both sides as they looked to make their mark on the game.
Forest were the team who enjoyed the early runnings though with the hosts enjoying the majority of play inside Bolton’s third of the pitch inside the opening stages.
With 11 minutes gone however, Ward capitalised on a loose ball to find himself in on goal with only Ben Amos to beat, with the goalkeeper being deemed to have brought the Forest man down to receive his marching orders and concede a spot-kick.
With Paul Rachubka taking his place between the sticks for the resulting penalty, Nelson Castro Oliveira duly despatched his effort from 12 yards past the experienced shot-stopper to give Forest the lead.
Buoyed by their opener and man advantage, the home side doubled their advantage four minutes later as Ward’s cross-goal pass found Burke who nodded a header past Rachubka from close range.
Wanderers enjoyed their first clear cut opportunity of the game with 21 minutes gone meanwhile, with Wellington Silva cutting inside on the edge of the box, but the Brazilian’s curled effort cleared the crossbar by a matter of inches.
The tempo of the game proceeded to drop thereafter though, with neither side really able to cause trouble for either goalkeeper.
Ward was continued to cause problems for Wanderers as the half drew to its conclusion, with David Wheater and co having to be on their guard to keep him quiet.
With four minutes of the first period remaining, Ben Osborn looked set to add a third after making a clever run to the edge of the box, only to see his eventual effort through a crowded box trickle just wide of the far post.
Inside the closing stages of the half, Wanderers looked a little livelier in front although on the counter attack, Rachubka had to be at his best to palm away a goal-bound Ward volley from a tight angle.
Just moments later, Ward was in the mix again, this time striking the crossbar from all of 30 yards out as Wanderers escaped with the deficit at two at the break.
With no changes for either side, the second half got underway as night began to fall at The City Ground.
And it was Wanderers who started the brighter, with Wellington causing havoc with a couple of well-placed crosses inside the first few minutes.
The hosts were soon back in the thick of the action however, with Ward darting into the box and drilling just wide of the far upright from a tight angle with eight minutes of the half gone.
Having adjusted to their ten-man set-up, the Whites were looking more dangerous on the attack with the majority of their pressure coming via Feeney on the right flank.
An injury to David Wheater however just after the hour mark dealt another blow to Wanderers, with the defender replaced with Neil Danns who took his place at right-back whilst Rob Holding moved into the centre alongside Dorian Dervite.
Ward was once again proving himself a menace to Bolton soon after, seeing another shot go just wide.
Up the other end meanwhile, a goalmouth scramble ensued with Madine and Pratley unable to force the ball home inside the six yard box.
Forest’s man advantage was telling however, as with the majority of Bolton attacks being met with a heavily packed backline.
With 11 minutes remaining, the ever threatening Ward looked to have made it three for the home side as he unleashed a powerful drive from outside the box, but Rachubka pushed his effort around the post.
But just four minutes later, Ward had the goal he had sought all afternoon as he powered down the left into the box and drilled the ball into the roof of the net via the underside of the bar to make sure of a comfortable result for the Reds at the final whistle.