Report: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Fleetwood Town
First-half goals from frontmen Chris O’Grady and Daryl Murphy made it three wins on the spin for Keith Hill’s men as they beat fellow Lancastrians Fleetwood Town 2-1 at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Although a late Josh Morris goal ensured the game edged towards a nervy end, Wanderers were good value for their three points.
Manager Hill made two changes from the side that picked up a midweek victory against Manchester City under 21s in the Leasing.com Trophy tie with Jake Wright and Thibaud Verlinden coming in for James Weir and Ali Crawford.
Wright was soon in the thick of the action and got an early caution after colliding with a Fleetword forward on the edge of the box.
It was a quiet start for both teams with each set of players looking to impose themselves on the game.
Luke Murphy was the next Wanderers to get their name taken after he committed a late challenge in the middle of the park.
Some good defending from Josh Emmanuel and Yoan Zouma prevented Kyle Dempsey from getting a shot on goal but the ball ricocheted for a corner, which was eventually cleared.
Ched Evans was lurking at the far post and managed to get a shot on goal only for Jason Lowe to get a leg in the way at the expense of a corner.
Verlinden, back in the team, burst down the left flank at pace but as he cut in he saw his effort cannon off a Town player for a corner.
A big chance for Wanderers came when Joe Dodoo got around two Fleetwood defenders before finding Verlinden who fired just over the bar from inside the area.
Wanderers were starting to find their feet and were looking dangerous when they attacked.
Dempsey was brandished a yellow after he fouled Luke Murphy.
Wanderers opened the scoring through O’Grady on 28 minutes when he capitalised on a weak backpass to bundle the ball over the line.
Just a minute later and Wanderers almost doubled their lead when Daryl Murphy latched onto a Verlinden cross, only to see his effort get blocked by a Town defender.
But the big Irishman made no mistake just four minutes later when he played a stunning one-two with Dodoo before rounding the ‘keeper and slotting into an empty net from an acute angle.
As the half was drawing to a close, Fleetwood were tried to respond through Evans but his header, from a cross into the box, lacked the power to trouble Remi Matthews.
With a minute to go, Paddy Madden spurned a glorious chance to reduce the arrears when he flicked a header over the bar from inside the six-yard area.
Five minutes after the restart, Dodoo lined up a free-kick but his effort went straight into Cairns’s gloves.
Fleetwood were not out of the contest just yet and Wright was in the right place to cut out a low cross that was sent into the box.
Lewie Coyle tried his luck from long range but his effort flew over the bar without causing any consternation for Matthews.
Hill made his first change of the afternoon when he brought on Dennis Politic for Verlinden on 56 minutes.
And the young Romanian made a lovely challenge to stem a Fleetwood attack when Coyle charged down the right.
The visitors made a triple substitution just after the hour with McAleny, Hunter and Morris all coming on for Rossiter, Burns and Madden.
Politic went very close to putting Wanderers further ahead when he went one-on-one with Cairns only to see the Fleetwood stopper save with his legs.
Goalscorer O’Grady proved to be vital in defence for Wanderers as he headed away the danger that resulted from a Town corner.
At the other end Cairns made a fantastic save to keep out a thunderous O’Grady effort from ten yards as Wanderers looked to put the game to bed.
Matthews made a vital save, diving at full stretch, to keep out a dangerous cross from Hunter. The Wanderers keeper took a knock for his troubles but was soon back up on his feet.
Fleetwood were fancying their chances and Coyle missed a great chance to get his name on the scoresheet when the rounded Matthews only to see his chipped effort go wide of goal.
With four minutes to go, the visitors had pulled a goal back when Morris hit a low effort on the diagonal to beat Matthews.
Substitute Politic was replaced by Sonny Graham just as the game headed towards the end of the regulation 90 minutes as manager Hill looked to tighten things up in the middle of the park.
Wanderers hung on through a nervy five minute period of added time to claim a vital victory in front of their own supporters.[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]