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BIG MATCH VERDICT: Bolton cruise to victory against MK Dons

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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Ten goals in three days, third in the table, more than 16 hours without conceding a goal at home… There have been worse times to be a Wanderer.

Defence really was the best form of attack for Bolton against MK Dons as Ricardo Santos, Luke Mbete, Gethin Jones, Eoin Toal and Randell Williams all helped themselves to goals in a free-flowing and confident display that underlined the club’s promotion credentials.

A fifth consecutive victory never looked in doubt, despite MK creating a few half-decent chances on the night. This juggernaut shows no sign of slowing down.

Wanderers made just one change to the team that hammered Peterborough at the weekend, resting Kieran Lee with the weekend’s game at Wycombe in mind and bringing in Victor Adeboyejo up front.

As a result, Shola Shoretire dropped deeper, and for long spells in the first half also looked to have brought an invisibility cloak on to the pitch with him.

MK simply couldn’t live with the Manchester United youngster, whose chops and drag backs were the tricks of a player enjoying his football at the moment.

Wanderers took the lead with only seven minutes on the clock. Incredibly, just three days after opening his account for the club with a brace against his old employers at London Road, club skipper Santos did what he has been threatening to do for the last two-and-a-half years, connecting with a header from Declan John’s whipped corner – not a sentence you could possibly have planned to write a few months ago.

Shoretire’s close control was causing a whole manner of issues for the visiting defenders, and had he been a touch greedier he might well have grabbed himself an early goal.

Just as Peterborough had at the weekend, MK looked dangerous enough when they moved forward. Just as James Trafford had passed an incredible 15 hours without conceding a goal at the UniBol, he was forced to make a brave block to deny Mo Eisa after he had been played through by Paris Maghoma.

Leko also had a decent chance, blocked well by covering defender Luke Mbete, but Bolton quickly stamped out any hope of a revival with another set piece.

As ever, Charles ratted around defender’s ankles waiting for one heavy touch. And he appears to have found a willing foil in new signing Victor Adeboyejo. The pair combined to hassle a mistake out of Jack Tucker and win a corner.

John whipped this one in from the right side, met by Mbete’s head for his very first goal in senior football. Keeping the shirt may be an issue, though, as it appeared to get ripped in the penalty box melee.

Bolton’s tails were up – and, in fact, you wondered whether only over-confidence could possibly give the visitors a route back into the game?

A few risky passes here, a slip there, it was not as if MK’s pacy front line was given no encouragement whatsoever. But just as they oozed confidence going forward, Bolton’s defence and goalkeeper looked imperious when the ball was played into their penalty box.

Two became three on 28 minutes as Dempsey raided into the box and drilled a low cross which fell nicely for wing-back Jones to smash his shot into the net with the aid of a slight deflection.

John – already with two assists – nearly grabbed himself a goal a few moments later, curling a free kick agonisingly wide of the post, with Cummings well beaten.

MK continued to look handy when they poured forward. Jonathan Leko has a goalbound header blocked by Eoin Toal, with some half-hearted appeals for handball thrown in for good measure. Eisa did manage to beat Trafford with a volley but was flagged offside.

There were a couple of other nervous moments at the start of the second half for Bolton to negotiate, including one amazing save from Trafford to tip Leko’s angled drive wide of the post.

Wanderers shifted up a gear, however, and eventually helped themselves to a fourth.

Goalkeeper Cumming had an inspired couple of minutes, tipping Toal’s blast over the bar then pushing away a point-blank header from Adeboyejo, from yet another pin-point John corner. He then made it a hat-trick of saves by blocking Charles’s header from an even shorter distance.

Wanderers finally kicked the door down again when MK failed to clear Morley’s corner, and the ball dropped for Toal to rifle into the roof of the net.

Bolton’s back three had all scored from set pieces, and there was still half an hour of the game to go.

With the points already in the bag, Evatt was given the luxury of giving Charles, Shoretire, John, Jones and Demspey a breather well before the end. Elias Kachunga made his first appearance since the much-publicised sending off against Forest Green and, to the supporters’ immense credit, he received a warm welcome to the pitch.

And who could fail to be in a good mood after the week it had been?

The substitutions slowed things a little towards the end but as the last of three minutes of added time ticked by, a looping ball from Lloyd Isgrove caught out the MK back line and Williams ghosted in to bring the pass under control before slipping the fifth under Cummings.

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