With last season ending with promotion from Sky Bet League Two at the first attempt, and the first half of the current campaign seeing Wanderers register some big victories – especially on the road, we have whittled 23 league victories during the calendar year of 2021 down to a shortlist of five.
5 | Charlton Athletic 1-4 Bolton Wanderers | Tuesday 28 September 2021
After seeing off Ipswich Town in emphatic style a couple of weeks earlier, Wanderers bounced back from a narrow defeat at Sunderland, with the demolition of Charlton Athletic at the Valley.
Josh Davison opened the scoring for Nigel Adkins’ side inside the opening quarter of an hour before Dapo Afolayan’s exquisite equaliser just before the break.
Kieran Lee’s double in the latter stages of the game put Ian Evatt’s men in command before Antoni Sarcevic wrapped up the victory with a fourth Wanderers goal of the evening. An excellent midweek performance and result in the capital.
4 | Mansfield Town 2-3 Bolton Wanderers | Wednesday 17 February 2021
Wanderers’ form had been patchy throughout most part of the 2020/21 season pretty much up until this point. Having recruited excellently during January, Ian Evatt’s men registered wins against Leyton Orient and Stevenage at the University of Bolton Stadium but a comeback victory at Field Mill felt like a trigger point for a run of form – and it turned out to be the case.
Goalless at the break, Ollie Clarke and Jamie Reid gave Town a comfortable lead going into the last quarter-hour of the game. Declan John’s bizarre strike gave Wanderers hope, before the left-back’s cross was turned into his own net by Mal Benning for the equaliser.
Arthur Gnahoua proved to be the hero late on with an excellent strike into the bottom corner. The goal secured three points that proved to be a platform for Wanderers to go on and earn a promotion that looked out of reach at the midpoint of the campaign.
3 | Morecambe 0-1 Bolton Wanderers | Saturday 24 April 2021
In the 19 matches leading up to a clash with Derek Adams’ side, Wanderers had amassed an impressive 45 points – the only side in the division on a run of form similar to that was Morecambe, who chased Ian Evatt’s men in the search for the third and final automatic promotion spot.
Wanderers headed to the Lancashire coast just a point ahead of the Shrimps, knowing that a win would mean just one more from the final two matches of the season would guarantee elevation to the third tier.
In a tense affair, Kelvin Mellor was sent off midway through the first half and the only goal of the game came via Huddersfield Town loanee Ben Jackson who lashed a shot past Kyle Letheren on the stroke of halftime. One goal proved to be enough and met by groups of Bolton supporters who had travelled to greet the team pre and post-match, the team headed home with a firm upper hand in the promotion race.
2 | Ipswich Town 2-5 Bolton Wanderers | Saturday 11 September 2021
Probably Wanderers’ most impressive victory of the current campaign, Ian Evatt’s men really turned on the style on a warm day at Portman Road to overpower one of the pre-season promotion favourites on their own patch.
Defeat left Paul Cook’s struggling side with just three points from their first six matches, with Wanderers up to third in the table following a fantastic start to the season. Macauley Bonne gave Town the lead inside five minutes, before Dapo Afolayan’s equaliser shortly afterwards.
Eoin Doyle restored Bolton’s lead from the spot after Afolayan was fouled by Kane Vincent-Young before Ricardo Almeida Santos' own goal brought the two sides level again on the half-hour mark. Man of the Match and Birthday boy Afolayan scored his second on the stroke of halftime to put Wanderers ahead again, whilst Josh Sheehan and George Johnston added to the home side’s misery with goals in the second half. Five goals and a five-star display by Ian Evatt’s men.
1 | Crawley Town 1-4 Bolton Wanderers | Saturday 8 May 2021
Number one on the list could realistically have only been attached to one match in particular, and that is of course the emphatic victory at Crawley Town to secure promotion on the final day of the 2020/21 season.
The win at Morecambe had set things up nicely for a home fixture against Exeter City the following weekend – a win at the University of Bolton Stadium would’ve secured promotion, but it didn’t go to plan and the Grecians registered a 2-1 victory, despite Wanderers taking the lead through Gethin Jones.
It all went down to the wire, and Antoni Sarcevic’s fantastic solo goal inside the first nine minutes of the game settled any nerves there might’ve been. Dapo Afolayan scored his first goal in a Wanderers shirt just before the half-hour to put Wanderers well and truly in control before George Francomb was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Eoin Doyle’s ruthless finish made it three early in the second half before Lloyd Isgrove added a fourth after beating Glenn Morris in a one versus one situation. David Rodari scored a consolation goal for the Red Devils but it was to be Bolton’s day and the celebrations ensued. A promotion which had seemed a pipe dream at one stage had been achieved at the first time of asking. Incredible.
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