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Bolton 3-1 Fleetwood - Marc Iles's big match verdict

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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A first half of ruthless efficiency, a second half of unruly madness - you just can’t take your eyes off Wanderers these days.

Victor Adeboyejo deserves to claim the headlines after scoring his first hat-trick in Bolton colours.

Three quality finishes put the points beyond doubt but, for the second season running, referee Tom Nield got attention he will have wanted to avoid. Pilloried for mistakenly sending off Dion Charles against Forest Green last season - and not the actual culprit Elias Kachunga - Nield had been forgiven for his misdemeanour in the build-up to the game.

“Everyone makes mistakes,” shrugged the Wanderers boss.

A penny for his thoughts now, after Neild showed a red card to Charles and himself in a second half of sheer lunacy?

Wanderers made two changes from the win at Cheltenham, with Paris Maghoma given his first league start and George Thomason also reintroduced to the starting line-up in a week where his future has been the topic of hot debate.

But while the young midfielder got an especially warm round of applause when his name was read out pre-game, it was another man-of-the-moment who seized the spotlight early on.

Adeboyejo scored on the opening day against Lincoln and then had - in his manager’s opinion at least - his best game in a Bolton shirt in the win at Cheltenham. One wonders if he had a change of heart after seeing the striker produce three clinical first-half finishes to leave the Cod Army somewhat battered.

The Whites have simply never looked as clinical under Evatt. Fleetwood played a part, creating chances in the chaotic manner we have grown accustomed to, but when Bolton had the ball it all looked so inevitable.

It took just three minutes to open the scoring - Charles producing a lovely pass to Maghoma on the overlap and his first-time cross crashed home by a man reborn in Adeboyejo.

Fleetwood’s response was impressive. Nathan Baxter did more work in the next 10 minutes than he had in the previous two games, punching a deep cross from Promise Omochere from under his own bar and denying Scott Robertson from distance.

Games against Scott Brown’s side are always hectic, or to use the modern term, transitional. Amid the hurly burly, though, Wanderers look capable of making good decisions on the ball. Maghoma was revelling in the spaces he picked out and Josh Dacres-Cogley had the freedom of the right flank for most of the half.

The second goal arrived on 14 minutes, Santos picking out the galloping Dacres-Cogley, whose first-time cross was smashed past Jay Lynch by Adeboyejo.

Once again, Fleetwood didn’t fold. Ryan Broom brought another save out of Baxter and the Whites had to hold their concentration in defence as crosses rained into their box.

Evatt might review how open his team were at times, looking ahead to Wigan’s visit this weekend, but once they had possession, hardly a fault could be found.

Maghoma should have made it three after Kyle Dempsey teed him up eight yards out but that honour went to Adeboyejo, who scored his second professional hat-trick with another smart finish, set-up with another pin-point cross from Dacres-Cogley.

The last man to claim the matchball before the break was Fredi Bobic, the German striker who helped Wanderers to a crucial win against Ipswich Town in their Premier League survival fight back in April 2002.

The only air of jeopardy left in the game at that stage was the unpredictability of the man with the whistle. A cluster of yellow cards in the first 45 minutes left us with furrowed brows, and within a few minutes of the restart Shaun Rooney walked away unpunished after clashing with Charles on the floor directly in front of Evatt’s dugout.

Fleetwood exerted more pressure on the Bolton goal with Josh Vela having one shot cleared off the line, Baxter again proving an impenetrable barrier on his own goalline.

The disorder Brown’s side craved was starting to spread. Adeboyejo had a fourth goal ruled out for a debatable offside as he turned in a cross from sub Aaron Morley.

Charles went close after some great work on the left, ending with him deflecting a shot from Williams just wide of the post with Lynch beaten. Seconds later he clashed with the Fleetwood keeper as he tried to bowl the ball out and referee Neild sent him off for the second season running.

Predictably, Evatt was unimpressed. And with the fans baying the West Yorkshire referee’s every decision he wisely chose to take a few other players out of the firing line.

But seconds later he, too, was shown a red card - a foul from Rooney seemingly prompting a few words heard by the fourth official Martin Coy. Neild jogged over and held a full conversation with his colleague, then the Bolton boss, before reaching for his pocket.

To Bolton’s credit, they did not unravel. Baxter continued to show impeccable handing under a slew of corners and it was not until the fourth minute of stoppage time that Fleetwood finally managed to bundle something past him.

Former Bolton loanee Josh Earl put his name to the goal, which occurred in near total silence.

Many fans stayed behind to let the officials know their feelings, and Wanderers assistant Pete Atherton seemed to voice his thoughts as Neild disappeared down the tunnel to a chorus of boos.

Never dull at Bolton, eh?

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