REPORT: Wanderers v Barnsley

Wanderers extended their unbeaten home run but couldn’t find the goal to avoid a first draw of the season at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The Whites have still lost only once at home this season and have now taken 10 points from the last 12 on offer on their own patch.

But the goals have temporarily dried up and despite dominating for most of the game against a Barnsley side which had won their last three away from home Ian Evatt’s men couldn’t force a winner go above the Tykes in the table and back into the top six.

Another clean sheet further enhanced the best defensive record in the division as Wanderers got moving again after successive away defeats.

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The Whites have conceded just three times at home all season and only eight in total but after three successive blanks they know they need to get firing again at the other end to turn performances into more points.

With Wanderers making three changes to their starting line-up there was a return to starting duty for Dapo Afolayan.

And he was quickly involved in a lively start from the Whites as they looked to make themselves back at home.

A trademark twisting run inside the first two minutes created an opening for Dion Charles, who tested Barnsley keeper Brad Collins with a first-time effort.

Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Jack Iredale also earned recalls and it was their combination that almost led to another chance for Charles as Wanderers strived to secure an early goal.

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From Bodvarsson’s flick, Iredale delivered a measured low cross and only the fingertips of Collins took the ball away from Charles as he waited to tap in.

Wanderers were in almost complete control and with half an hour gone again had an opportunity to make it count.

Ziyad Larkeche was booked for pulling Conor Bradley back right on the edge of the box but Afolayan couldn’t keep his effort down as the free-kick flew just over the bar.

And just before the end of an impressive first half, Bodvarsson then went close when he stabbed the ball wide from Bradley’s square pass at the end of another penetrative move.

Scoring enough goals has been an issue for the Whites, though, and 10 minutes into the second half they passed up another opportunity when George Thomason mis-cued an effort from 15 yards out after Barnsley only half-cleared a corner.

And Wanderers’ touch in front of goal continued to desert them when another decent move involving MJ Williams, Bradley and Gethin Jones ended with a fizzing Jones’ cross which Charles bundled just the wrong side of the far post as the ball bounced off his body.

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Evatt’s men needed a lift and with 15 minutes to go the manager freshened up his front line in a bid to find a winner as Amadou Bakayoko and Kieran Sadlier came on and Afolayan pushed further forward.

The big chance wouldn’t come, though, and despite offering little in attack Barnsley almost nicked the points with a couple of minutes to go when James Norwood headed over from a rare sight of goal.

That would have felt unjust as the Tykes looked happy to be going with a point.

And with the stalemate extending through stoppage time disrupted by another stoppage in play they achieved that as Wanderers had to settle for the same outcome.

Wanderers: Trafford; Jones, Santos, Johnston; Bradley, Williams (Morley 84), Thomason (Dempsey 69), Iredale (Kachunga 84); Afolayan; Bodvarsson (Bakayoko 76), Charles (Sadlier 76). Substitutes: Sheehan, Lee.

Booked: Thomason, Dempsey, Bradley

Barnsley: Collins; Cundy, Andersen, Kitching; Edwards, Benson (Kane 80), Connell (Phillips 80), Larkeche (Cadden HT); Aitchison (Martin 66); Norwood, Cole. Substitutes: Walton, Cadden, Moon, Jalo.

Booked: Norwood, Larkeche.

Referee: David Rock

Attendance: 18,415 (1,767 Barnsley)

Read Time: 4 mins