Bolton Wanderers came from behind to pick up their tenth win in 12 games as they beat Walsall at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Sam Perry put the visitors in front with a precise strike from distance but Ian Evatt’s men dialled up the heat in the second half to run out deserved winners thanks to a header from Kieran Lee and an Eoin Doyle spot-kick, which took his tally to 15 goals for the season.
The Wanderers boss made just one enforced change with Lloyd Isgrove coming in for injured captain Antoni Sarcevic who tore his hamstring last Saturday at Port Vale.
Wanderers were on the front foot early on with Saddlers’ keeper Liam Roberts eventually holding on to a 20-yard drive from Dapo Afolayan.
The on-loan West Ham man somehow kept the ball in over on the far side and charged goalwards with his resulting shot being blocked by a Walsall defender.
Declan John’s centre was cleared at the expense of a corner after some intricate passing place set up the opportunity.
Walsall put in a decent display in the first half though, and Emmanuel Osabede’s shot on the turn was easily saved by Matt Gilks as the visitors broke forward.
The visitors took the lead after 28 minutes when Sam Perry’s shot from distance found its way past a diving Gilks.
Moments later, Wanderers charged forward and Nathan Delfouneso’s strike took a deflection for a corner.
Kieran Lee’s volley from distance flew just over the bar after the ball fell into his path following the corner kick. Wanderers were searching for a way back into the game.
Wanderers won a free-kick just outside the box when Afolayan was upended by James Clarke, who received a yellow card for the challenge. The midfielder picked himself up and took the set-piece which cannoned into the wall.
Five minutes following the restart, Afolayan’s shot from 20-yards dipped just over the bar after Lee won possession.
Wanderers had a great opportunity equalise moments later when Afolayan headed over from close range after meeting Gethin Jones’ inch-perfect cross from the right-hand side.
At the other end, Caolan Lavery flashed a shot wide just before the hour mark.
Liam Roberts’ tipped Declan John’s cross into the box over his bar after the ball appeared to be heading goalwards.
Another opportunity fell Wanderers' way when Ricardo Almeida Santos powered in to meet John’s corner, but the big defender was unable to keep his header on target.
Wanderers got a deserved equaliser after 68 minutes when Lee headed the ball over the line after Roberts’ kept out Jones’ deflected cross.
Walsall were then reduced to ten men for the final 17 minutes when Hayden White was shown a straight red for grabbing Afolayan around the throat.
Wanderers took the lead with ten minutes of the game remaining when Doyle slammed home his 15th goal of the campaign from the penalty spot after Lee was upended.
With five minutes of the game remaining, Arthur Gnahoua and Zack Elbouzedi came on for Afolayan and Isgrove, while Shaun Miller replaced Doyle moments after.
The hosts saw out the game comfortably to claim a victory that put them within one point of the automatic promotion places.
Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Jones, Almeida Santos, Baptiste, John, Williams, Lee, Isgrove (Elbouzedi 85), Delfouneso (Thomason 90+3), Afolayan (Gnahoua 84), Doyle (Miller 90+1).
Unused Subs: Brockbank, Tutte, Maddison.
Goals: Lee (67), Doyle pen (80)
Walsall: Roberts, Norman, White, Clarke, Sadler (Osei Yaw 88), Melbourne, Kinsella, Perry, Gordon (Cockerill-Mollett 77), Osadebe (McDonald 88), Lavery (Bates 88).
Unused Subs: Rose, Sinclair, Wright.
Goal: Perry (28)
Red Card: White (73)