Report: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Cambridge UnitedFirst half goals from Eoin Doyle and Antoni Sarcevic were enough to give Ian Evatt’s men their eighth victory in a ten-game unbeaten spell as they overwhelmed second-placed Cambridge United at the University of Bolton Stadium.
The Irishman grabbed his 14th goal of an impressive campaign while the Wanderers skipper’s strike put the finishing touches to arguably his best performance for the club after the hosts dominated their opponents throughout the vast majority of the game.
Although an uncharacteristic mistake from goalkeeper Matt Gilks allowed Cambridge to pull a goal back through Kyle Knoyle's strike, Wanderers were in no real danger of going away with anything other than the three points that they claimed.
Wanderers ended the day in seventh spot of the Sky Bet League Two table and just four points away from the automatic promotion places.
The Wanderers manager made one change from the side that drew with Bradford City at the weekend with the goalscorer from that match, Nathan Delfouneso, coming in for Lloyd Isgrove who was named among the substitutes.
Prior to the game, a minute’s silence was held to remember the 33 Wanderers fans who lost their lives during the Burnden Park Disaster 75 years ago while both captains laid a wreath on the far touchline.
After a bright start by the visitors, Wanderers soon found their rhythm and a good passing move earned them a corner which eventually came to nothing.
The first opportunity belonged to Cambridge, with Gilks making a strong save at the expense of a corner from Shilow Tracey after the frontman was played in when Delfouneso had lost possession in Wanderers territory.
It was Callum Burton’s turn to make an important save after 15 minutes when he kept out Doyle’s first-time volley off John’s wonderful centre after the full-back was found by a smart flick from Dapo Afolayan.
Kieran Lee fired over from inside the box after John’s pass to Sarcevic made its way to the midfielder and then John’s 25-yard free-kick after Doyle was scythed down was well struck and had Burton momentarily worried before the ball went just over the bar.
The Welshman put in an impressive performance, and he ran into the box and smashed a shot towards goal after being played in by a superb pass by Lee but Burton blocked the effort which went out for a corner.
The Cambridge ‘keeper dived to his right to keep out an Afolayan strike when Doyle’s touch found the midfielder after Sarcevic had set up the move.
Wanderers were on top and Doyle’s 14th goal of the season broke the deadlock after 38 minutes when he provided the perfect touch to a perfect passage of play. Sarcevic’s inch-perfect pass found Gethin Jones charging into space and the full-back’s cutback was expertly finished by Wanderers’ leading marksman.
One became two and the Wanderers ‘skipper Sarcevic blasted in a volley from the edge of the box after Afolayan’s effort had eventually rebounded into this path following a brief scramble as a consequence of Burton's save.
On the stroke of half-time, Doyle was very unfortunate not to grab a second when he lifted the ball over the advancing Burton before watching it drift agonisingly wide.
Declan Drysdale's last-ditch defending prevented a certain third for Wanderers as MJ Williams’ cross after some great interchanges in the box resulted in a corner.
Fully in control of the game, Wanderers started the second half as they finished the first, and Sarcevic's tried his luck with a drive from distance which took a deflection before being held by Burton at the second time of asking.
Delfouenso was brought down in full flow, just wide of centre and 20 yards out, by Drysdale. Sarcevic’s resulting set-piece was well struck but the visitors' wall proved to be resolute.
The Wanderers captain, who had put in an outstanding display, was withdrawn just after the hour mark with Marcus Maddison coming on for him.
Lee almost grabbed a third when his curling effort from the edge of the box was tipped away for a corner by Burton.
Wanderers were camped in the Cambridge half and were deserving of more goals, and Burton came racing off his line to block Afolayan’s effort after the on-loan man raced on to Doyle’s intelligent pass.
Evatt made his second change of the evening with 15 minutes left on the clock when George Thomason came on for the hard-working Delfouneso.
A rare foray into the Wanderers half by the visitors resulted in Luke Hannant skying a ball into the Carrs Pasties North Stand after finding a pocket of space to move into.
The visitors were handed a lifeline with just over ten minutes remaining when Gilks inadvertently allowed Knoyle’s drive from distance to slip under his body.
Evatt made his final changes of the evening immediately afterwards when Shaun Miller and Arthur Gnahoua came on for Doyle and Afolayan with eight minutes remaining.
Wanderers saw the game out professionally and resolutely to claim another impressive victory. In the dying moments, MJ Williams and Alex Baptiste combined bravely to deny Paul Mullin from close range. Bolton Wanderers:
Gilks, Jones, Almeida Santos, Baptiste, John, Williams, Lee, Delfouneso (Thomason 75), Sarcevic (Maddison 62), Afolayan (Gnahoua 81), Doyle (Miller 81). Subs Not Used:
Tutte, Brockbank, Isgrove.Goals:
Doyle (38), Sarcevic (43). Cambridge United:
Burton, Knoyle, Drysdale, Taylor, Dunk (Iredale 46), Tracey, May (O'Neil 62), Boateng (Digby 62), Hannant, Ironside, Mullin.Subs Not Used:
McKenzie-Lyle, Alese, Okedina, Worman. Goals:
Knoyle (80).[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]