Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Oxford United
Wanderers suffered their first league defeat at Macron Stadium in the 2016/17 Sky Bet League One campaign as they went down by two goals to nil against Oxford United on Saturday afternoon.
In a game of few clear cut chances, the deadlock was broken by the visitors ten minutes from time as substitute Wes Thomas turned the ball home following a United counter attack.
Despite the Whites’ best efforts however inside the closing stages, the U’s doubled their advantage on the stroke of the 90 through Chris Maguire on the rebound to take all three points back to the Kassam.
Gary Madine and Zach Clough were both in from the off for Wanderers, with the former having been passed fit following a recent stint on the sidelines.
Mark Beevers was also back in the starting XI for the Whites after sitting out Tuesday’s defeat to Rochdale with illness.
The game started in combative action, with Mark Howard feeling to full force of Marvin Johnson inside the opening minutes as the pair collided in amidst a free-kick into the mix while his opposite number Simon Eastwood also collided with his own man moments later.
Liam Sercombe proceeded to enjoying the first chance of the game in the tenth minute meanwhile, sprinting down to right before seeing his lobbed effort nestle on the top of the net after giving Howard food for thought.
The visitors’ pressure continued, with a clever Chris Maguire flicked effort from six yards being smothered by the Bolton keeper a matter of moments later.
Wanderers were soon in the ascendancy themselves however, with Madine and Clough in the mix for the Trotters.
There was very little between the two teams though inside the opening quarter of the clash, with James Henry seeing a drive deflected over the crossbar in the 22nd minute.
The U’s weren’t shy in showing off their footballing ability with a number of lengthy passing spells, but they were failing to make inroads inside the Bolton 18 yard box.
The game was lacking a little bit of spark, with both sides cancelling each other out for the most part.
It almost sprung into life on the 40 minute mark as Clough found himself in space on the left flank before cutting inside, but Henry was unable to turn the ball home after the academy graduate had picked him out.
Frustration was evident for Bolton, with Clough being seemingly upended in the area as the home side began to grow in confidence with the clock ticking down to half time.
United meanwhile came close too with Kane Hemmings unable to bundle a Maguire free-kick home from a matter of yards out, but the first period ended goalless.
With no changes at the break, proceedings got back underway and Wanderers were almost infront through the head of Oxford’s Charlie Raglan, but his effort somehow cleared the crossbar under pressure from Madine.
It was all Wanderers inside the opening ten minutes of the second period, although the U’s were dealing with the pressure being thrown their way.
Chances in front of goals however were still few and far between, with neither goalkeeper being troubled too much.
With the game reaching its hour mark, the tempo was seemingly raised with the finishing line coming into sight in the distance and Wanderers made a triple substitution of Sammy Ameobi, Jamie Proctor and Keshi Anderson in a bid to force a winning goal.
A bold move for the Whites, it certainly added spice to proceedings as Bolton looked to break the deadlock in the clash.
Oxford enjoyed their best chance of the game soon afterwards after Alex Macdonald drilled goalwards from six yards out, but Howard was the hero as he somehow palmed his effort away for a corner.
Buoyed by their opportunity, the visitors proceeded to push forward with them sensing that they could perhaps take all three points themselves with the match finely poised.
Wanderers had to be on their guard, with Michael Appleton’s side in the ascendancy inside the final 15 minutes.
And with ten minutes remaining, the deadlock was broken as Thomas turned the ball home at the far post from Macdonald’s cross following an Oxford counter attack.
It was all hands to the pump for Bolton inside the closing stages as they chased the game, with the visitors back in their numbers in a bid to defend their advantage.
On the counter once again however, they doubled their lead on the stroke of the 90 as Maguire turned the ball home after Howard had initially saved Hennings’ effort from a tight angle to make sure of all three points.