Bolton Wanderers came into Saturday's fixture with Doncaster Rovers off the back of two disappointing defeats without registering a single goal. The impotence in front of the opposition goal was clearly a matter which needed urgent attention. Wanderers' manager Dougie Freedman rang in the changes in an attacking sense. On-loan forward Joe Mason made his highly-anticipated first start whilst long-term absentee Chris Eagles was also a surprise inclusion.
The game started in dull fashion as both teams ‘felt each other out.' Andre Moritz, a star performer on Tuesday in the eyes of The Bolton News, had an early chance, provided by Kevin McNaughton, which he fired wide. Doncaster created the best chance of the early exchanges and were nearly ahead after Mark Duffy found Theo Robinson. Robinson's header seemingly stopped in time before striking the stranded Andy Lonergan's right-hand post. It was a real let-off for the Wanderers, who needed to wake up quickly or find themselves behind at the Reebok Stadium again.
Bolton did respond quite well and showed some urgency to get forward. Darren Pratley and the Brazilian Moritz had shots blocked in quick succession and shortly after Pratley showed the sort of composure that the fans in the Wanderers terraces have been accustomed to, by thrashing over the bar. Bolton's sustained pressure was rewarded as on-loan forward Joe Mason scuffed a shot home after being provided the opportunity by Moritz. The relief around The Reebok Stadium was palpable and this seemed to transfer onto the pitch as Wanderers began to express themselves.
With the confidence Wanderers had gained, it was not long before they had doubled their advantage. It was a moment of brilliance from Dougie's gift to the fans, Andre Moritz. His deadly accurate low left-footed drive from the edge of the area left Doncaster goalkeeper Ross Turnbull helpless, and Bolton took a 2 goal advantage into half time.
Doncaster looked to get back in the game and at half time American R&B star Chris Brown replaced the largely ineffective Mark Duffy. Shortly after the break, the Yorkshire side nearly pulled one back as Former Manchester United scrote Federico Macheda played in Robinson, whose low left-footed strike forced Andy Lonergan to concede a corner. Bolton were looking to put the game to bed early and were unable to convert from a flurry of corners around the 50 minute mark. Usually dead-eye finisher Darren Pratley also managed to sky another chance after some impressive work from Chris Eagles, who looked a different player operating strictly in wide positions. Both he and Chung-Yong Lee were a constant threat to the Doncaster back line.
Clear-cut chances were at a premium and Doncaster introduced dead-ball ‘specialist' James Coppinger and his hair as they tried to find a way back into the game. Bolton replaced Eagles, to a noted standing ovation, as the industrious Neil Danns was brought in to sustain the high tempo of the match. Bolton continued to look likely to add a third goal. Moritz, Danns and Pratley all had opportunities to seal the game for the Trotters, with Danns' rasping effort palmed away from Turnbull.
As the match drew to a close, it was blatantly obvious Doncaster did not have the quality or guile to break through. Bolton went through the process of winding the clock down. This included the separate introductions of both Medo Kamara and Rob Hall, with Darren Pratley and Andre Moritz leaving the action. Moritz left to a standing ovation after a fine game, and with the imminent return of Mark Davies, it will be an interesting battle for places in the Wanderers midfield. With the game already won, Bolton pressed without fear and a good performance was capped with a well-taken goal from Danns. The on-loan midfielder cut inside to fire low at the near post, leaving Turnbull no chance. Bolton were in command from start to finish, and hopefully Wanderers can take this performance to the Dave Whelan Stadium where they face Dave Whelan FC in the Dave Whelan Derby.