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Report: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Oxford United

21 August 2021

Goals from Dapo Afolayan and Eoin Doyle saw Bolton Wanderers come from behind to claim a second successive victory and extend their unbeaten start to the Sky Bet League One campaign.

Wanderers fell behind to an early Matty Taylor strike but were back on level terms just before the interval thanks to a pearler of goal by Afolayan, his second of the campaign.

And, making his 50th appearance in a Wanderers shirt, Doyle headed home a winner to ensure a deserved victory for Ian Evatt’s men.

The Wanderers boss made two changes from the side that beat Lincoln City in midweek with Declan John and Lloyd Isgrove coming in for Liam Gordon and the injured Amadou Bakayoko.

The visitors had an early sniff of a chance when Gavin Whyte sent a low cross into the box but Ricardo Almeida Santos was alert to the threat and slid in to clear away the danger at the expense of a corner.

Wanderers responded with a lovely break that was instigated by Josh Sheehan and almost finished off by the Welshman. The midfielder found Antoni Sarcevic who did well to get into the box and cross for Sheehan, whose effort went narrowly wide of goal.

The hosts were enjoying space down the right and Gethin Jones maneuvered well to put in a decent cross that was ultimately gathered by Jack Stevens.

Oxford took the lead in the 11th minute through Matty Taylor who broke the offside trap, despite appearing to handle the ball, before rounding Joel Dixon and guiding the ball into an empty goal.

Wanderers won an indirect free-kick inside the Oxford area after the visitors were penalised for a back pass after running into a spot of trouble. Sheehan’s lay off to Doyle was charged down by the United defence.

Taylor headed straight into the arms of Dixon after getting on the end of a long cross from the right-hand flank.

MJ Williams recovered the ball after initially losing possession to set up Afolayan, but the wideman’s shot from distance drifted wide of Stevens’ goal.

Johnston’s impudent backheel was cleared off the line after Sheehan’s corner made its way to him before Sarcevic curled over from distance as Wanderers stepped up the pressure.

Taylor was booked for a cynical foul on Sarcevic as Wanderers were about to break. 

Right on the stroke of halftime, Afolayan equalised with a shot of pure beauty and elegance. Williams won the ball in midfield and played in his teammate who cut in to lose his marker before curling in a low, long-range effort beyond the despairing dive of Stevens.

The game resumed without any changes made by either side during the interval.

Dixon kept out a well-struck shot from Whyte as Oxford found some joy down the right side.

A header from Taylor just inside the box went straight into the arms of Dixon.

An important block and tackle by Almedia Santos prevented Taylor from squaring the ball into the danger area, but this came at the expense of a corner that was cleared.

Wanderers got themselves in front courtesy of a glancing Doyle header from a Sheehan corner which was the Irishman’s second strike of the campaign coming in his 50th appearance for the club.

A slip by John allowed substitute Marcus McGuane to get a run and cross into the box but the imposing frame of Almeida Santos got to the ball first at the expense of a corner.

From the resulting kick, Steve Seddon volleyed into the side netting as he ran onto the ball at the far post.

Wanderers made their first change with just under 20 minutes to go with Alex Baptiste coming on to replace John.

Johnston found Sarcevic in an advanced position and the Wanderers’ skipper’s shot forced Stevens into punching clear, but the effort rebounded off a teammate for a corner. This was a great spell of pressure from the hosts who were searching for a third.

Doyle sprang the offside trap and was a matter of inches away from adding another goal to his tally after Stevens came off his line.

Evatt made a second change on 80 minutes with Elias Kachunga coming on for the hard-working Lloyd Isgrove.

Sheehan was the beneficiary of some sloppy defending as a clearance looped to him on the edge of the box but he was unable to get his strike on target and it drifted for a goal kick.

Wanderers made their final change of the game on 88 minutes with the outstanding Sarcevic coming off to rapturous applause for Kieran Lee.

And Lee almost made it three goals to the hosts with his first touch as he ran onto a cut-back only to see his effort go over the bar

Gavin Whyte missed a sitter to snatch a point right on full-time when he skied over the bar from close range.

But Wanderers left the field to an ecstatic crowd to pick up a well-deserved three points.

 

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, Jones, Almeida Santos, Johnston, John (Baptiste 71), Williams, Sheehan, Sarcevic (Lee 88), Isgrove (Kachunga 80), Afolayan, Doyle.

Subs Not Used: Gilks, Brockbank, Thomason, Delfouneso. 

Goals: Afolayan (45), Doyle (63)

 

Oxford United: Stevens, Forde, McNally, Thorniley, Seddon, Sykes, Rodriguez, Gorrin, Brannagan, Whyte, Winnall, Taylor.

Subs Not Used: Eastwood, Moore, Mousinho, Cooper.

Goal: Taylor (11)

 


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