TEN-MEN Bolton Wanderers hung on to claim a point against Shrewsbury Town after Thibaud Verlinden’s stunning first-half goal was cancelled out by Daniel Udoh after the restart.
Jason Lowe’s straight red 13 minutes into the second-half saw Wanderers up against it for the remainder of the game but they held firm against their numerically advantaged opponents.
Manager Keith Hill named an unchanged line-up for the third game in succession as Wanderers entertained Shrewsbury Town at the University of Bolton Stadium for their final match of the decade.
The visitors had the upper hand in the early exchanges and were looking to steal an early advantage.
Josh Earl was on hand to clear Ryan Giles’ low centre which was destined for Shaun Whalley who was lining up to shoot.
Remi Matthews raced off his line to clear a loose ball with his head but it only went as far as Whalley who fired wide from 30 yards.
Wanderers received an early blow when they were forced to withdraw captain Liam Bridcutt. Adam Chicksen came on in his place with Earl moving to partner Jake Wright in the centre of defence.
Chicksen was soon involved and his crunching challenge enabled Verlinden to race away down the left to deliver a stunning cross what found Daryl Murphy. The Irishman, though, was off target with his header.
Wanderers were stepping up, and Verlinden’s short corner to Ronan Darcy allowed the young midfielder to fire in a wicked drive which was pushed over the bar by Max O’Leary.
Josh Emmanuel then found himself in space on the edge of the box but his firmly struck effort on target was deflected for a corner kick.
From the resulting corner, taken by Darcy, Daryl Murphy rose the highest but his guided header was narrowly off the far post.
Joe Dodoo then picked up a loose ball and surged towards the edge of the box before seeing his deflected shot land into the arms of O’Leary.
Wanderers dominance finally paid off just after the half hour mark when Verlinden was played in by a lovely ball from Darcy. And with O’Leary off his line, the Beligan expertly lobbed the keeper from distance to give Wanderers the lead.
Wanderers were eager to double their advantage and O’Leary came to the rescue for the visitors when he got to a Luke Murphy centre that was aimed for Dodoo at the far post.
Matthews was pressed into action just a minute after the restart when he punched clear a cross into the box.
Aaron Pierre then headed over the bar after connecting with le left-hand sided cross from Scott Golbourne.
The equaliser came from Udoh when he side footed home after Whalley’s initial shot had been blocked.
Dodoo headed wide after reaching Darcy’s lofted cross into the box.
At the other end, Jason Lowe produced a smart block to keep away Love’s cross at the near post.
Wanderers were reduced to ten men just before the hour when Lowe was shown a straight red for a challenge on Ollie Norburn.
Shrewsbury, with their numerical advantage, were sensing blood and almost immediately after Lowe’s dismissal Giles cut in from the right to unleash a strike that went narrowly wide of target.
Pierre spurned a glorious chance to put the visitors in front when his unchallenged header at the back post, off Whalley’s corner, went over the bar.
Whalley had another corner shortly afterwards which was floated towards Norburn at the far post, but his well-struck volley was blocked well by Adam Chicksen.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell then met a corner from Whalley but his header was comfortably wide of goal.
Ro-Shaun Williams then fired the ball over from inside the box after Aaron Pierre’s header was cleared in front of the line by Dodoo.
With just three minutes to go, Matthews made a huge double save to keep Town at bay when they looked set to get a winner.
Sam Ricketts’ men thought they had that elusive winner deep into injury time when they got the ball in the back of the net but a linesman’s flag ruled out the effort for offside.