TEN MAN Bolton Wanderers had to settle for a point from a game against Morecambe that they probably deserved more from after being in control for large periods.
Eoin Doyle’s 11th strike of the season towards the end of the first half appeared to set Wanderers on course to a relatively comfortable Sky Bet League Two victory.
However, the momentum of the game shifted 12 minutes after debutant Marcus Maddison came on as a substitute to replace Arthur Gnahoua.
The on-loan Charlton winger had almost scored with a powerful right footer but was then shown a seemingly harsh straight red for a challenge on Aaron Wildig deemed dangerous by referee Oliver Langford.
Video replays showed that the sub made contact with the ball first before he and Aaron Wildig collided, with no raised studs at any point during the challenge.
Shrimps’ sub Brad Lyons then headed past Gilks from a corner to earn his side a point.
Ian Evatt made one change from the side that beat Leyton Orient just over a week ago at the University of Bolton Stadium.
New signing MJ Williams came into midfield at the expense of Kieran Lee who is currently self-isolating.
Fellow deadline day recruits Marcus Maddison and Oladapo Afolayan were named among the substitutes as Wanderers took to the field against Morecambe for the very first time in a competitive fixture.
The game got off to a steady start with neither side creating any chances of note during the opening ten minutes and both sides looking to get to grips with the game.
Nathaniel Knight-Percival roamed forward from the centre of defence and blasted over the bar after he had managed to get the better of MJ Williams in a 50-50 challenge deep in Wanderers territory.
Matt Gilks kept out a low effort from Cole Stockton and claimed the loose ball at the second time of asking as the big Morecambe striker lashed the ball goalwards from 15 yards out
Ricardo Almeida Santos rose to reach Ben Jackson’s floated free-kick into the box but the header went out for a goal kick as the defender tried to guide it to Eoin Doyle at the far post. The Irishman just a yard away from latching onto the ball with the goal at his mercy.
After a quick breakaway down the left-hand side shortly afterwards, Carlos Mendes Gomes curled a right footer wide of Gilks’ left hand post.
Doyle’s shot was blocked by a Morecambe defender as the ball looped into Kyle Letheren’s hands after a searching ball from Almeida Santos had found Harry Brockbank who set up Lloyd Isgrove to supply the pass for the Irishman.
Moments later, Doyle had another shot which was comfortably gathered by Letheren after Isgrove had once again supplied the cross.
Down at the other end, Stockton headed high and wide of the target after he connected with a cross from John O’Sullivan on the right. The former Tranmere and Motherwell forward should perhaps have done better with his attempt on that occasion.
Doyle broke the deadlock just before the break with an astute finish into the bottom right hand corner to bring up 11 for the season. Alex Baptiste's long pass out of defence found Nathan Delfouneso who carved open the Shrimps’ defence to set up the Wanderers striker for an assured and clinical finish.
No changes were made by either side during the break and shortly after the restart Delfouneso saw a left-footed shot from the edge of the box blocked importantly by the visitors’ captain Sam Lavelle.
The frontman had another chance shortly afterwards but he didn’t get enough power on his header off Isgrove’s cross after Jackson’s initial free-kick was cleared into the wideman’s path.
Brockbank was the next to try to probe the Morecambe goal with powerful drive after he drifted into the box, but his effort was blocked by a recovering defender after he had been supplied by Doyle.
Evatt made a double substitution just after the hour mark when he brought on Afolayan and Maddison for Isgrove and Gnahoua. Three of the four Deadline Day signings were now on the field making their debut for the football club.
Shortly after the change, an injured Brockbank made way for Gethin Jones who slotted in at right-back.
The visitors hit the woodwork when Lavelle connected with Wildig’s free-kick but the former Wanderer could only steer his header onto the bar which ultimately rebounded to safety.
It was a let off for Wanderers.
Afolayan looked bright after entering the field and he squared a pass to Maddison with the winger’s powerful right footer parried away by Letheren.
Another change for Wanderers came after 69 minutes when Declan John came on for Jackson for a like for like change at left-back.
Maddison’s debut ultimately only lasted 12 minutes after he was shown a straight red for a challenge on Wildig. Wanderers would have to see out the remaining 17 minutes plus additional time with ten men.
Just like Afolayan, John looked sharp and offered Wanderers an outlet going forward down the left-hand side. He lost Kelvin Mellor on the near side with a neat flick and charged his way into the Morecambe box before seeing a left footed effort go just over the bar.
Wanderers made their final change with just over ten minutes remaining when Zack Elbouzedi came on for Delfouneso.
Stockton should have done better when Wildig’s cross found him in a yard of space inside the box but he scuffed his effort wide of goal.
Morecambe's previous chance was spurned but they did find an equaliser after 83 minutes immediately after Derek Adams had fielding a quadruple substitution.
Brad Lyons, who had been one of the subs, had a free header from O’Sullivan’s corner to power home past Gilks.
Wanderers could have snatched a late winner when Elbouzedi may have opted to shoot from a long way out with Letheren far off his line following a wayward punt upfield, but he instead opted to pass to Doyle who was unable to curl his effort on target.
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Brockbank (Jones 62), Almeida Santos, Baptiste, Jackson (John 70), Williams, Thomason, Gnahoua (Maddison 61), Isgrove (Afolayan 61), Delfouneso (Elbouzedi 78), Doyle.
Subs Not Used: Comley, Tutte.
Goal: Doyle (43)
Morecambe: Letheren, Mellor (Cooney 82), Lavelle, Knight-Percival, Gibson (Hendrie 82), Denny (McAlinden 76), Diagouraga, O'Sullivan, Mendes Gomes, Wildig (Lyons 83), Stockton (Slew 83).
Subs Not Used: Halstead, Davis.
Goal: Lyons (83)