Report: Bolton 1-2 Preston North End
Wanderers suffered a late defeat at the hands of Preston North End at Macron Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts drew first blood in the clash halfway through the first period with Liam Trotter opening his account for the season with a well-taken strike from just outside the area.
North End were level 13 minutes into the second half however with Jordan Hugill bundling the ball home from close range, while Marnick Vermijl completed the turnaround with four minutes remaining as he poked home at the far post to steal victory for the Lilywhites.
Gary Madine returned to the starting line-up for Wanderers, while Kaiyne Woolery was back amongst the substitute having sat out Bolton’s midweek clash with Ipswich due to illness.
The visitors meanwhile featured only six names on their bench after the late withdrawal of Paul Huntington.
At a noisy Macron Stadium, the game got underway and it was the visitors who enjoyed the first sight of goal with Jordan Hugill seeing his glancing header skim the crossbar inside the opening 60 seconds of the game.
The tempo was set from the off, with Wanderers responding with pressure of their own soon after.
Madine was in the thick of the action with ten minutes on the clock, with the bandaged frontman calling for a penalty kick after seemingly being upended in the box, but the referee remained unmoved and signalled for play to continue.
Despite enjoying the opening opportunity, Preston found themselves on the backfoot for the majority of the first 15 minutes of the game, with Madine’s glancing header from a corner a signal of Bolton’s intent in the clash.
The game continued at a solid pace, with Zach Clough’s header from a Liam Feeney cross falling into the arms of Anders Lindegaard in the 20th minute with the goalmouth at his mercy.
Having peppered the Preston goal, Wanderers finally broke the deadlock with 22 minutes on the clock as Trotter collected the ball 20 yards out, with the towering midfielder curling the ball home into the bottom corner of the net.
A deserved opener for the Whites, they certainly weren’t resting on their laurels although the visitors opened up the game a little more after going behind.
Although Bolton forced to defend for the first time in the game at this point, the Lilywhites couldn’t make their efforts count where it mattered with Paul Rachubka remaining untested.
As the clock ran down to half time, the tempo of the game did drop slightly with neither side able to make any real inroads, although it was Bolton who were looking the likelier of the two.
At the break however, Bolton’s advantage remained at just the one.
With no changes for either side at the break, the game restarted with Preston almost levelling inside the first 60 seconds, but Paul Gallagher was unable to meet a dangerous cross-goal ball.
Up the other end meanwhile, a superb Feeney run down the flank and subsequent cross found Madine, with the striker unable to hit the target under pressure from his marker.
With a best-of-the-season attendance of 18,423 confirmed, the crowd inside Macron Stadium were certainly being entertained.
It was end to end in the encounter, with Preston certainly showing more intent than they had in the first period and they were rewarded in the 58th minute as Hugill bundled home from close range after Bolton failed to clear their lines.
Wanderers almost saw their lead restored on the hour mark as Mark Davies volleyed goalwards, with Lindegaard having to recover the ball after initially fumbling the midfielder’s powerful effort.
Despite having been pegged back, Bolton still looked dangerous on the break with Trotter coming within inches of doubling his tally with a close range header.
It was frustrating stuff for the Trotters, but the introduction of Wellington Silva with 22 minutes remaining in place of the skipper signalling Bolton’s intent during the final quarter.
Tackles were flying in all over the place, with tempers flaring as both teams went in search of a winning goal.
The chances were appearing but Wanderers were finding it hard to capitalise with Clough and Wellington testing Lindegaard.
Inside the closing stages, Neil Lennon threw Woolery into the mix in place of Clough as Bolton went all out for attack, but it was the visitors who scored with four minutes remaining as Vermijl poked the ball home at the far post.
With five minutes of additional time indicated, Wanderers threw men forward in a bid to force an equalising goal while Eoin Doyle had an effort disallowed for offside for the visitors, but it was all in vain as Preston held out.