Posted by Admin - Tue 28th February 2017 9.30AM
To finish the month of February, Bolton faced Charlton who have been struggling this season considering that they were playing Championship level football last season.
They came out with a clear tactic to defend, like so many teams have done so this season, and coped under the pressure fairly well.
However, it quickly looked to turn sour as a fast counter-attack from Bolton saw the Charlton defender Lewis Page sent off in the 11th minute, after bringing down Josh Vela just outside the penalty area.
The ball was set at an optimal range for Zach Clough who curled a beauty into the top left corner to open the scoring for the whites in the 13th minute.
That lead only last ten minutes as Charlton ventured forward and won a free kick. The set-piece was floated into the box and headed home by Patrick Bauer. Alnwick had come to collect the ball yet found himself in no man’s land. Poor Alnwick judgment will be prominent this month.
Things went from bad to worse for Bolton as they conceded on the stroke of half time. Throwing bodies forward for a potential lead, Bolton struck the crossbar and that ricochet fell to Charlton strikers.
Taking advantage of a limited defence, Nathan Byrne slotted the ball under Ben Alnwick for an undeserved half-time lead.
Bolton seemingly became too accustomed and egotistical, resulting in conceding two goals against the run of play.
Due to Charlton’s man disadvantage, their midfield dropped deep into what seemed like a seven defender formation. Understandably, Bolton were unable to break the structured defence down, leading to a lot of frustration by fans and players alike.
Bolton were unable to find a leveller, let alone a winner as the Whites ended January on a low note.
So began Transfer Deadline Day which is always an exciting and gripping 24 hours – unless you are a Bolton Wanderers fan.
However, there was a lot of deals coming in and out for Bolton, most notably Zach Clough leaving Bolton for Nottingham Forrest towards the tail end of the day. Although undisclosed, the fee is around £3 million as Bolton held out for the best deal possible.
Revelations arose from the transfer with heated tensions rising in the club as chairman Ken Anderson blamed Dean Holdsworth for the deal. Anderson claimed the sale was due to Holdsworth not investing enough in the club but Holdsworth denies the accusation.
Bolton also sent flop Chris Taylor on loan to Oldham while bringing in Chris Long, Felipe Morais, Viv Solomon-Otabor, Reece Wabara and the return of Adam Le-Fondre.
Following a reshuffle, Bolton went to Milton Keynes Dons to try to regain some form after losing three consecutive games.
An injury to Andrew Taylor saw Dean Moxey start at left-back which made Bolton fans simultaneously groan when the team was announced. Not only has Taylor been Bolton’s most consistent player this season, Moxey is sub-par even on a good day.
In a fairly uneventful first half, Bolton opened the scoring on the stroke of half time, Jay Spearing’s low cross wasn’t met by the foot of any player and resultantly found itself in the bottom corner of the net.
However, Bolton fell asleep at the start of the second half and conceded, like so many other times this season.
After poor defending by Bolton, pinball football issued and fell into the path of Kieran Agard who slotted home low under Ben Alnwick.
MK Dons, with the momentum, pushed on with the support of the home fans and looked most likely to score but were unable to find a winner.
Only a point from this game would have been seen as a defeat in the promotion fight narrative, but Scunthorpe also dropped points, meaning Bolton didn’t stay too far behind the front two.
Bolton then went back to the Macron Stadium for a fixture against Mid-Table Walsall. This game saw the return of Adam Le-Fondre which was met with fan jubilation.
Not even three minutes in and Le-Fondre posed a threat to the Walsall goal with an ambitious turn and shot from distance.
However, Walsall also started strongly and scored the first goal of the afternoon in the fourth minute.
Turkish playmaker for Walsall Erhun Oztumer spotted Alnwick off his line and lobbed the keeper from fourty yards out. The shot stunned the Macron and left fans with a sense of Deja-vu and an acceptance that Bolton would record another loss.
That wasn’t the case for the Bolton players who equalised eleven minutes later in the form of Gary Madine. A Jay Spearing corner was met by Madine who’s downwards header hit the post and went in.
The Whites then moved up a gear and took the lead, through another Jay Spearing corner. The initial corner was cleared into the path of Spearing who chose to send in a low ball, causing problems for the Walsall defence. The ball took a deflection off a Walsall defender and went down as an own goal.
Due to an injury to Right Back Lawrie Wilson, Bolton were forced into a three at the back formation meaning that Liam Trotter gained a surprise start. Normally a scapegoat for Bolton fans, he had a decent game and found the net for Bolton’s third in thirty minutes.
Very similar to an ambitious effort against Sheffield Wednesday two years ago, he took the ball on the half-volley and struck from about 30 yards out into the top left corner. A talent that Trotter has in his locker amidst a lot of flaws.
Bolton went out into the second half lackadaisical with the game already basically wrapped up. However, Walsall still had some fight in them and were close to gaining back a goal. Florent Cuvelier turned and shot but his effort was cleared off the line by Mark Beevers.
The ball clearly didn’t go over the line, a good shout by the fourth official Sebastian Stockbridge – acting linesman after a medical problem occurred to the starting lineswoman, delaying the second half kick-off.
The game quickly turned into a contest for goal of the month as Chris Long made his home debut in style by coming off the bench and scoring Bolton’s fourth. Rapid pace saw him race past the defender as he proceeded to strike the ball into the top corner.
The speed the ball travelled was astonishing, resulting in a confused initial reaction of the crowd.
With Scunthorpe dropping points, this win meant Bolton closed the gap on the top two even further.
Bolton stayed at home for their midweek derby against Rochdale. The Dale have had an odd season, seeing them struggle at the begging and even fighting for promotion in the later months.
It was a tense affair as Bolton fielded the same team as their demolition of Walsall. Tackles came flying in with physicality prevailing.
A major casualty of the game was Andy Taylor who had looked off pace for the majority of the first half. He was forced off just before half time due to a reoccurrence of the injury he sustained which left him out for the MK Dons game.
A game in which no party seemed to create a clear goal scoring chance. Bolton’s main outlet was through new signing Felipe Morais who put in man of the match performances against both Rochdale and Walsall. His crossing ability is second to none and has the ability to run at defenders, striking fear.
It took until the 82nd minute for the ball to go into the net following a goal line scramble. Another Jay Spearing corner caused the defence problems and as the ball ricochet off the crossbar, Mark Beevers was in the box to tap the ball through the bodies of Rochdale defenders to give Bolton the only goal of the game.
Bolton held onto all three points and were the only top 3 team to win as Sheffield United and Scunthorpe drew their games. This closed Bolton’s gap on Scunthorpe to two points.
For their final game of this publication, Bolton went to Valley Parade – a return for manager Phil Parkinson who swapped Bradford for Bolton this season, as well as new signing Felipe Morais.
Also in a play-off place, Bradford looked to make this match-up as difficult as possible for the whites as both teams looked to secure a place for promotion.
It was a horrible start for Bolton as they conceded two goals in the opening 16 minutes to Bradford striker Charlie Wyke.
At the ten-minute mark, a fast Bradford break saw Wyke pick up the ball just inside the box. A hard, low shot should have been an easy grab for Ben Alnwick, yet the ball bounced off his hands and over him into an empty net.
Six minutes later, a long ball from the defence was attempted to be cleared by Alnwick, however he was too slow and the Bradford attack lobbed the keeper. Wyke was on hand to turn the lob goal bound into an empty net.
Bolton came back from half time looking rejuvenated, especially after Dean Moxey and Liam Trotter were substituted off. A James Henry free kick fell into the path of David Wheater who struck a volley off the post in the 62nd minute.
Bolton then levelled the score line in the 74th minute as a quick James Henry free kick caught the Bradford defence off guard as Gary Madine headed the ball past the Bradford keeper.
A promising month for Bolton who have seen a bad run of games repaired which has put our season back on track.