Chey Dunkley’s stoppage time goal consigned Wanderers to defeat at the hands of Shrewsbury Town at Montgomery Waters Meadow on Saturday afternoon, after leading through Dion Charles’ brace.
Wanderers got off to the worst possible start with the Shrews scoring inside 90 seconds. Rob Street sauntered into the box to latch onto a pass, and he made no mistake in beating James Trafford from around ten yards out. Not a moment to warm up 1,600 or so travelling fans down behind the goal in close to freezing Shropshire conditions.
Ian Evatt’s men though were moving the ball with purpose and precision in the Shrewsbury half of the field, and they got an equaliser ten minutes later. Putting together a slick move, Kieran Lee’s intelligent lofted pass found Gethin Jones in the box and the stand-in skipper showed fantastic composure to pull the ball back for Dion Charles to plant a powerful first-time shot into the bottom corner past a helpless Marko Marosi.
After a high intensity start to the match, chances didn’t come thick and fast at either end of the field for much of the remainder of the first half, but Dapo Afolayan engineered a notable opportunity for himself midway through the half. Cutting infield from the right, he carried the ball to a central position on the edge of the box before seeing a shot whistle past Marosi’s right-hand post.
The Whites started the second half on the front foot and once again it was Afolayan looking to force the issue. Turning expertly on the edge of the box with an immaculate first touch, the forward tried a low shot that had to be turned behind low to his right by Town’s stopper. The resulting corner was cleared as far as Conor Bradley who lashed a first-time shot well over the bar from distance.
Josh Sheehan put in an excellent performance in the middle of the park and after gliding into the box, he played a neat one-two with Lee before seeing a goal-bound effort unfortunately blocked by Charles.
Momentum was with Wanderers and they were presented the opportunity to take the lead when Chey Dunkley was penalised for pulling down Charles inside the box after the energetic frontman had latched onto Jack Iredale’s pinpoint pass down the line. After scoring the equaliser, Charles was on the spot to beat Marosi from 12 yards in front of yet another healthy following in the away end.
In the thick of the action once again, Charles created some space for a shot inside the box after twisting away from a couple of Shrewsbury defenders, but he was nudged to the ground by Tom Flanagan. The forward and his Bolton teammates appealed for a penalty, but the referee waved the appeals away, and moments later Christian Saydee equalised for the hosts after pouncing on a loose ball to rifle the ball into the roof of the net.
Shrewsbury had the bit between their teeth in the latter stages of the game, and after James Trafford denied Rekeil Pyke and Tom Bayliss, the winning goal came two minutes into added time. Failing to clear their lines, Wanderers were made to pay with Dunkley jumping highest to head the ball past the Manchester City loanee from close range.
Shrewsbury Town: Marosi, Pennington, Dunkley, Flanagan, Moore, Leahy, Shipley, Winchester (Pyke 59), Bayliss, Street (Bloxham 85), Saydee (Bowman 85).
Unused Subs: Burgoyne, Bailey, Barlow, Hutchings.
Goals: Street (2), Saydee (79), Dunkley (90+2)
Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Jones, Toal, Johnston, Bradley, Iredale, Williams, Sheehan, Lee, Afolayan (Bakayoko 82), Charles (Bodvarsson 82)
Unused Subs: Dixon, Aimson, Khumbeni, Sithole, Kachunga.
Goals: Charles (13, 71 pen).
Attendance: 7,098 (1,622 Wanderers fans)