A last gasp winner from Teemu Pukki earned Norwich City a late victory after ten-men Bolton Wanderers appeared to have fought their way back to earn a precious point after goals from Sammy Ameobi and Mark Beevers looked to have earned the visitors a share of the spoils.
Phil Parkinson’s men had shown a tremendous fighting and never-say-die spirit throughout the contest and despite going two goals down gave their top-of-the-table opponents a mighty scare when goals from Ameobi and Beevers had cancelled out strikes from Vrancic and Stiepermann.
It was a bitter blow for Wanderers who deserved a point only to be harshly thwarted deep into time added on.
Manager Parkinson named an unchanged starting XI from the side that drew against Wigan Athletic last Saturday at the University of Bolton Stadium as they faced the Sky Bet Championship toppers Norwich City at Carrow Road.
Norwich weaved their way into the Wanderers box with their first attacking foray, but Jack Hobbs was alert to the danger and cleared the ball emphatically for a throw-in to stymie the threat.
The hosts looked sharp during the early stages with a deflected effort from Emi Buendia going for a goal-kick.
But it was Wanderers who almost took the lead after seven minutes when Jason Lowe unleashed a first-time volley from 20 yards after Norwich failed to clear Sammy Ameobi’s cross into the box. The loose ball fell to the midfielder whose powerful drive was parried wide by Tim Krul.
Moments later and Wanderers should have taken the lead. Again, Ameobi was instrumental in the build-up and his superbly weighted through ball fell into the path of Will Buckley. His first touch was perfect which allowed him to get a clean strike on the ball, but he only managed to steer the ball wide.
Ben Alnwick made a smart save from Marco Stiepermann after the midfielder weaved his way into a shooting position before firing a firm effort on target. The Wanderers skipper though pushed the ball wide only to see Max Aarons’ follow-up effort deflect for a corner.
Canaries skipper Alex Tettey should have done better from his free header off Aarons’ corner kick but he could only place his effort across the face of goal and away for a goal kick.
Todd Cantwell had a chance to break the deadlock almost immediately after he latched on to a lay off from Buendia but his strike went wide.
At the other end, Wanderers were looking to open the scoring and Pawel Olkowski wasn’t too wide with a left footed curler from Ameobi’s pass.
Mario Vrancic had Alnwick scrambling to his right, but the midfielder’s right-footed curling strike went wide.
Immediately, Wanderers pressed forward with Williams squaring the ball to Noone, whose effort lacked the power and direction to trouble Krul.
The deadlock was finally broken with five minutes of the half remaining when Vrancic’s low drive beat Alnwick who appeared to be unsighted.
Wanderers made a loud penalty appeal shortly after the restart when Doidge’s header appeared to come off the arm of Zimmerman.
Referee Scott Duncan was unmoved and played carried on.
Doidge came to the rescue at the other end when he blocked Tettey’s firm drive before it had chance to trouble Alnwick.
Some great interchanging passes between Olkowski and Ameobi over on the right culminated in the latter firing over Krul’s crossbar.
The hosts doubled their advantage through Steipermann whose emphatic strike left Alnwick with no chance after the ball broke to him on the edge of the box.
Wanderers gave themselves a lifeline on 63 minutes when Ameobi stabbed the ball home from close range after he latched onto Andrew Taylor’s hooked cross.
Jack Hobbs made a vital tackle at the expense of a corner to prevent Cantwell from charging into a dangerous area.
Mark Beevers produced a stunning tackle deep in his own penalty after to deny Teemu Pukki who had sprang the offside trap to put himself in a one-on-one situation with Alnwick. The big Wanderers defender raced back to produce a firm and expertly timed tackle to dispossess the Canaries midfielder.
Wanderers were pressing for an equaliser and Williams flashed wide with a left footed effort with just over ten minutes to go.
The equaliser came with two minutes remaining when Mark Beevers fired emphatically at the far post with the hosts failing to clear their lines.
Wanderers had to play the final two minutes of time added on with ten men after Amoebi was shown a second yellow card for an infringement.
But Pukki had the last laugh with a last gasp strike in the last minute of time added on.