Declan John’s early strike gave ten-man Bolton Wanderers a victory over Stevenage at the University of Bolton Stadium and a league double against the Hertfordshire outfit.
The Welshman’s stunning strike set Wanderers on their way but, for the second time in as many matches, they had a man dismissed when MJ Williams was shown a straight red for a foul on Tom Pett.
However, Ian Evatt’s men dug deep to cling on to the victory which propelled them to 13th in table.
The Wanderers manager made four changes to the team to face Stevenage at the University of Bolton Stadium in Sky Bet League Two this afternoon.
Gethin Jones came in for the injured Harry Brockbank at right-back, while Declan John started at left-back ahead of Ben Jackson who was named among the substitutes.
Marcus Maddison and Oladapo Afolayan made their first starts in a Wanderers shirt.
The visitors started the brighter of the two with two early half chances that fell to Chris Lines and Luke Norris.
Maddison fired over with his right foot from distance as Wanderers responded.
However, the hosts took the lead after seven minutes with a great right footed strike from John after an enterprising run by Oladapo Afolayan down the left.
Eoin Doyle reached Maddison’s corner at the near post but his deft header narrowly went wide as Wanderers looked to double their lead.
Stevenage tried to get back on terms and Jack Aitchison forced Matt Gilks to save with his feet after being played in by Lines.
A stunning move involving Maddison and Doyle almost resulted in Alex Baptiste extending Wanderers’ lead. The Irishman teed up the advancing defender who fired high and wide.
Doyle’s first time shot from distance after receiving the ball from Nathan Delfouneso lacked the power to trouble David Stockdale in the Boro nets as Ian Evatt's men got to grips with the game and looked for a second goal.
Wanderers lost possession cheaply in their own half and allowed Danny Newton a shot on goal which was easily gathered by Gilks.
Shortly after the restart, Ricardo Almeida Santos headed over after Afolayan sent in a beautiful cross from the nearside. The big Wanderers defender was under pressure as he rose to meet the ball.
Evatt made his first change on the hour with Arthur Gnahoua coming on for Delfouneso.
Luther James-Wildin squared the ball to Lines whose first time shot sailed high and wide.
Maddison was replaced by Lloyd Isgove shortly afterwards with Wanderers looking to build on their marginal lead against an improving Stevenage.
Luke Norris flashed an effort wide with a volley after latching onto Luke Prosser’s long throw.
Isgrove’s low curling strike was easily smothered by Stockdale after Afolayan and Gnahouha combined well in the Stevenage area.
Wanderers were reduced to ten men after 78 minutes when Williams was shown a straight red for a foul on Pett. Referee Trevor Kettle reached straight for his top pocket although the decision seemed harsh to say the least.
Andrew Tutte came on for Afolayan as Evatt attempted to tighten things up from a defensive point of view for the final ten minutes.
Ben Coker’s deep cross found an unmarked Norris, but the forward's header went straight into Gilks’ hands.
Wanderers, superbly marshalled by their resilient defence, stood firm and held on to pick up their seventh point out of nine on home soil ahead of two successive away games at Mansfield Town and Southend United next week.
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Jones, Williams, Almeida Santos, Delfouneso (Gnahoua 60), Doyle, Maddison (Isgrove 64), Thomason, Baptiste, John, Afolayan (Tutte 81).
Subs Not Used: Comley, Miller, Elbouzedi, Jackson.
Goals: John (7).
Sent Off: Williams 78
Stevenage: Stockdale, James-Wildin (Hutton 76), Vancooten, Prosser, Coker, List, Aitchison (Roles 86), Lines, Pett, Newton (Stevens 57), Norris.
Subs Not Used: Johnson, Cuthbert, Vincelot, Smith.