Report: Oxford United 2-4 Bolton
Wanderers made it four wins on the spin with a 4-2 victory over Oxford United at the Kassam Stadium on Tuesday evening.
The Whites enjoyed the perfect start to proceedings, with Filipe Morais hitting his second in as many games inside four minutes when firing the ball home into the roof of the net from a tight angle.
And it was two halfway through the first half, with Mark Beevers turning home the ball after Morais’ free-kick had been initially saved by Simon Eastwood, although the home side did pull one back before the break through Kane Hemmings.
Despite a period of pressure from the hosts inside the opening stages of the second period, the Trotters’ two-goal advantage was restored on the hour mark as Chey Dunkley put through his own net.
The U’s weren’t finished just yet however and made it 3-2 with 15 minutes remaining courtesy of a Chris Maguire free-kick, but Josh Vela's strike in injury time made sure of the points.
Wanderers made one change to the side who started against Northampton Town at the weekend, with Jay Spearing coming into the fray in place of Derik Osede.
Bolton started brightly in the clash and were rewarded inside four minutes as, following good work by Josh Vela, Gary Madine seeing a header saved with Morais on hand to drill home the rebound from a tight angle at the back post.
The perfect start for the Whites, the home side were visibly a little stunned while Bolton were clearly not ready to rest on their laurels early on.
With the game warming up meanwhile, the home side were seeing a little more of goal with John Lundstram seeing a 20-yard effort comfortably saved by Ben Alnwick in the 18th minute of the clash.
With 21 minutes on the clock, Wanderers doubled their advantage however as, following Morais’ free-kick which was saved by Eastwood, Beevers was on hand to fire home the rebound from close range.
Phil Parkinson’s men were yet again looking for more despite their two-goal advantage, with Morais’ cross into the box narrowly eluding a Bolton body shortly after.
With 33 minutes on the clock meanwhile, Wanderers were forced to make an unexpected change with Adam Le Fondre being replaced by Chris Long after taking a knock earlier in the half.
With three minutes of the half left though, the home side halved the deficit with Hemmings forcing the ball over the line.
Alnwick had initially got a finger to a Joe Skarz effort before Wheater hooked it off the line, but the Oxford man was on hand to bundle the ball home.
The U’s pushed in a bid to level before the break, but Bolton stood firm and ensured that they still led come the half time whistle.
With no changes for either side at the break, proceedings got back underway under the floodlights at the Kassam Stadium.
And it was the home side who started the stronger, with Bolton having to be on their guard early on with a number of chances going begging for the U’s.
Wanderers were forced back in their numbers, while Alnwick was called upon to deny Marvin Johnson from distance in the 51st minute.
Bolton responded well though, with Eastwood palming away a Long cross-cum-shot from an acute angle.
And the Oxford keeper almost gifted the Whites a third when spilling a Morais corner kick soon after with Madine unable to force the ball over the line.
Long also tried his luck from just outside the box with a venomous drive which stung the palms of Eastwood at the near post.
On the hour mark however, Bolton’s two goal advantage was restored as Chey Dunkley put the ball past his own goalkeeper under pressure from Madine to the delight of the travelling faithful.
United weren’t a beaten team by any stretch of the imagination though, with them straight on the attack in a bid to pull themselves back into the clash.
With 20 minutes remaining meanwhile, Alnwick pulled off an absolute wonder save to deny Johnson from all of 30 yards.
Buoyed by their near-miss, the home side rallied and pulled another goal back from a 20-yard free-kick with Maguire thundering the ball home.
The stage was set for a grandstand finish, while Wanderers almost had a fourth shortly after as Long drilled goalwards from a tight angle.
With time ticking down, it was all hands to the pump for Bolton to defend their slender lead with the home side throwing men forward in their droves.
But on the counter attack, Vela put the game to bed as he slotted beneath Eastwood to send the travelling 575 fans into raptures and make sure of the three points.