Posted by Admin - Thu 20th April 2017 8.47AM
By William Kirkpatrick
Bolton are on the brink of promotion back to the Championship, but it has been a nerve-jangling few weeks for the club and their fans
After recent rampant performances, the whites travelled to Shrewsbury in the hope to make it five wins in five.
Shrewsbury were one point above the relegation places and a win would have been crucial for their survival. This showed as the home team dominated the first half, coming close with numerous half-chances.
Bolton took the lead as Mark Beevers headed in just after the restart, connecting with a long throw-in by Filipe Morais for his sixth goal of the campaign.
Bolton doubled their lead through Adam Le Fondre 15 minutes later. A piercing run from Morais split the defence before he squared the ball to Le Fondre who powered the ball into the roof of the net to put.
Injuries to three Bolton players dampened the mood. A first half injury forced Gary Madine off and hasn’t been featured since. Ben Alnwick and Andy Taylor later received injuries in the second half which has since affected Bolton’s form.
After five consecutive high scoring games, Bolton came crashing back down to earth when they hosted Chesterfield at the Macron.
With cheap tickets, Wanderers fans filled the Macron but were ultimately disappointed as Bolton were slow and sluggish to start.
In the first half, a series of Mark Howard saves kept Chesterfield from going in front whilst the strikers failed to deliver.
Clearly missing a target man, it was only in the final 20 minutes when Bolton looked dangerous and caused Chesterfield problems and a glorious chance in the dying embers saw a goal-line scramble defended well by Chesterfield.
Bolton then made the long journey down to Southend for another testing match. Southend found themselves in a play-off position and have had a very promising season to date.
Bolton started the game much more strongly as Madine returned to the line-up. Crosses into the box looked to have a purpose as he came close twice in the opening exchanges.
It was Southend who had the best chance of the half as Nile Ranger wpulfd hsvr turned the ball in but for a combined goal line clearance by Beevers and Wheater.
However, an injury just before half-time forced a change of strikers and Bolton again looked sluggish as the second half started. It took until added time for the only goal of the game to go in.
A Filipe Morais corner was floated into the box which caused chaos. The ball eventually fell to Mark Beevers who turned and fired home.
That win put Bolton 10 points in front of Fleetwood with five games remaining and Bolton fans believed that automatic promotion was a case of ‘when’ and not ‘if’.
However . . .
Another away fixture saw Bolton travel to fellow automatic promotion hopefuls Scunthorpe United.
Wanderers started slowly and fell behind early on when David Mirfin headed home.
Despite Connor Wilkinson starting with Adam Le Fondre for extra aerial danger, Bolton were unable to test Scunthorpe early.
Although improving in the second half, Bolton remained second best for the majority. A deflected Scunthorpe shot rattled the Bolton post which could have easily put the game to bed.
James Henry, who scored an injury time winner against Scunthorpe earlier in the season revitalised Bolton as they pushed to try to salvage a draw and come the end of the game, Bolton were unlucky to come away with no points.
They dominated the closing stages of the game but Scunthorpe drew back numbers to defend, like so many teams have done so this season, and saw out a minor win.
On the back of a defeat, Bolton faced Oldham for a derby form which two teams needed points for different reasons.
Another goalless and forgettable first half ensued as Bolton again looked to miss striker Madine - Bolton haven’t won a game this season in which Madine hasn’t started.
Despite losing a player to a red card, Oldham scored the only goal of the game in the second half as a cross somehow squeezed in.
Bolton pushed more bodies forward to salvage a point as half chances from corners plagued the closing minutes to no effect. Adam Le Fondre’s flicked shot struck the post but otherwise, it was a disappointing display from the Whites.
The Oldham game was followed by another derby at the Macron and another game in which both teams need points at both either end of the table.
A first half jam packed with half chances left a sour taste in the fans mouths as we settled in for another frustrating scoreline.
The three in midfield of Spearing, Pratley and Derik Osede failed to gel as they remained too defensive, leaving a lot of work on the shoulders of Le Fondre and Vela.
The two best chances of the game fell to Bolton as David Wheater hit a rocket on the half-volley with half an hour to go.
Later, Adam Le Fondre turned and produced a beautiful curling effort which bounced off the underside of the crossbar, being ruled as a no-goal.
Bury came to defend and their plan worked. They successfully dealt with balls being projected into the penalty box and weren’t too afraid of a challenge.