Bolton Wanderers tasted a narrow defeat at the City Ground as they ended their 2018/19 Sky Bet Championship campaign with a 1-0 reverse to Nottingham Forest.
Joe Lolley’s first half opener proved to be the only goal of the contest but Phil Parkinsoni’s men can consider themselves unfortunate not to get a point for their efforts having created many chances throughout the 90 minutes.
Phil Parkinson made six changes to the team from Wanderers’ last outing against Blackburn Rovers. Remi Matthews returned between the posts while Jack Hobbs, Josh Magennis, Jonathan Grounds, Joe Pritchard and Will Buckley all came into the manager’s starting plans.
Among the substitutes were Jake Turner, Jack Earing, Chori Jonson and Ronan Darcy who if featured would be making their league debuts.
It was a bright start from the visitors who looked full of energy and they kept hold of possession really well during the early stages.
A smart move over on the right hand side saw O’Neil put in a good cross which just narrowly avoided the head of Magennis who was looking to power home.
At the other end, Hobbs, returning to his former club, hooked the ball off the line after Sam Byram’s knocked a cross from the right hand side into the dangiiper area.
Another good opportunity came for Wanderers when Buckley broke clear over and put in a cross for Noone, whose miss-hit fell into the path of Pritchard. The Wanderers’ youngster managed to get a shot in but saw his effort blocked.
Magennis tried his luck from 25 yards with a low but powerfully hit drive, but Luke Steele was able to make a save and deny the Northern Irishman.
Joe Lolley’s left footed curler from wide was comfortable saved by Matthews as Forest were looking to get a grip on the game.
But the wideman made no mistake on 28 minutes when he put the hosts in front with a low strike from just outside the penalty box.
Chances were few and far between for the remainder of the half.
Wanderers won a corner early after the start with O’Neil swinging the ball into the box, but referee Oliver Langford blew up for a foul.
Another set-piece from the midfielder came to nothing after his deep free kick landed into the grateful arms of Steele ten minute later.
A smart move from Brockbank on the right flank presented fellow full-back Taylor with an opportunity to drive the ball goalwards. However, his fierce shot was deflected for a corner.
Connelly put a decent ball into the box which flummoxed the Forest defence, but Steele reacted well to get to the ball before Magennis could get a head on it.
Another chance from distance presented itself to Magennis, who struck the ball high over the bar from 28 yards.
Wanderers were having plenty of the ball and looking the more likely of both teams to score with Forest seemingly content with their narrow lead.
A rare foray into the Wanderers box saw Grabban with a good chance to double the home side’s lead, but Taylor got his body in front of the well struck effort and the ball was cleared away.
18 year-old Ronan Darcy was given his professional debut on 70 minutes when he came on for Craig Noone.
Substitute Guedioura played a one-two with Carvalho and hit the ball goalwards but his effort lacked the power to trouble Matthews.
Another league debut was given to jack Earing who came on for fellow debutant Joe Pritchard on 77 minutes.
Wanderers were pressing for an equaliser and Hobbs had a shot on target blocked as the visitors threw men into the box.
The best chance of the afternoon fell to Magennis with just two minutes remaining when he got his head on the end of a superb O’Neil cross, but his effort lacked the power to trouble Steele who held on to the ball.
Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Taylor, Buckley, Noone (Darcy 70), Hobbs (C), Connolly, O’Neil, Magennis, Grounds, Pritchard (Earing 77), Brockbank.
Subs not used: Turner, Little, Oztumer, Donaldson, Johnson