Report: Southend United 0-1 Bolton
Wanderers made it five victories on the spin on their travels with a last-gasp win over Southend United on Tuesday evening.
Following a tightly contested game, the match was settled deep into second-half injury time as Mark Beevers drilled home through a crowded penalty area to send the travelling Bolton fans into raptures.
The result sees the Whites go ten points clear of third-place Fleetwood in the Sky Bet League One standings.
There was one change for Wanderers in their starting XI, with Gary Madine replacing Chris Long.
The game started at a frenetic pace, with Bolton looking lively early on as Filipe Morais played a clever ball into the box with nobody able to force it home under pressure.
Madine was proving himself a nuisance inside the opening stages, with much of the Whites’ play coming through him.
Adam Le Fondre meanwhile came close inside five minutes, with him collecting a Josh Vela pass downfield, only to lose control at the pivotal moment when in on goal.
The pace of the game showed no signs of slowing down until an injury sustained by Ryan Inniss in a crowded penalty area saw him leave the field of play with a suspected dislocated shoulder.
Following the restart to proceedings following a length stoppage, Bolton almost snatched the lead only to see David Wheater’s header from a corner hit his own man in Le Fondre on the line.
Soon followed by a brief pause after Dorian Dervite took a knock too, the game struggled a little to ebb and flow as it had previously.
Wanderers had an effort cleared off the line with 27 minutes gone meanwhile, with Madine being denied at the death.
Up the other end of the field though, the home side saw a combination of Wheater and Beevers deny Nile Ranger on the goalline.
Madine came close again just after the half hour mark, with his thunderous header from a Morais cross cannoning off the post.
Wanderers were sending out warning signals to the home side, with Le Fondre volleying just over the crossbar after good work from Madine.
There was nine minutes of additional time indicated at the end of the first half, with Madine leaving the field after taking a knock himself only to return soon after.
Vela almost forced an own goal out of Michael Timlin too with six minutes gone with Le Fondre’s shot almost being turned home by the Shrimpers man, with the post sparing his blushes.
Come half time however, the scores were goalless.
Unable to shake off the injury he sustained in the first period, Madine was withdrawn at the break and replaced with Max Clayton at the start of the second half.
And Bolton started brightly, although Simon Cox did drill an effort down the throat of Howard for the home side soon after from the edge of the 18-yard box.
The game was finely balanced on a knife edge, with both sides looking dangerous on the counter attack.
Timlin came close for the hosts just after the hour mark too, with his looping shot from outside the box narrowly eluding the goalmouth.
Stephen McLaughlin also saw a shot fly just over for the Shrimpers, with his thunderous drive from distance just inches over the crossbar.
Southend were a side growing in confidence, but Bolton almost snatched the lead as Clayton was denied by Christian Walton after being played in by Le Fondre.
With the game entering its final 20 minutes, there was still all to play for with Ranger left crying for a penalty after falling down in the box.
Phil Brown was also sent to the stands by referee Charles Breakspear after encroaching the pitch one too many times.
With time ticking down, it was clear to see that neither side were ready to settle for a draw with Clayton seeing a flicked header pushed around the post on the stroke of the 90.
And with just two minutes of additional time remaining, Beevers pounced to drill home in a crowded penalty area to snatch victory and send the travelling fans into ecstasy.