clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Bolton won the battle of the Wanderers to record their first three points of the season

Mark Davies looked back to his brilliant best against Wolves and is excelling as stand-in Wanderers captain
Mark Davies looked back to his brilliant best against Wolves and is excelling as stand-in Wanderers captain
Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers moved to within just four points of the play-offs with a largely positive performance against a Wolverhampton Wanderers side tipped by many for a promotion push.

Liam Feeney's opener and a Zach Clough penalty saw Wanderers race into a 2-0 lead in a dominant first-half only to see Bolton old boys Adam Le Fondre and Benik Afobe combine to get the visitors back into the game, with the latter scoring a penalty of his own. But the hosts held firm despite a late Wolves push, largely thanks to some trademark heroic defending from French centre-back Prince-Desir Gouano.

Wanderers lined up with the same starting eleven that drew at Blackburn, except for Derik Osede coming in to makes his debut in place of the suspended Dorian Dervite. And the hosts could and should have beaten Wolves far more comfortably but missed a host of chances through Gary Madine and Emile Heskey late on, and should have had at least one more penalty.

The game began with Wanderers very much on top and creating a couple of half chances for Zach Clough and Dean Moxey. Liam Feeney should have put the hosts in front as he somehow conspired to miss from six yards, allowing the ball to hit him rather than actually shoot. At the other end the Wanderers' former strikers seemed more intent on diving in the box than going for goal, with Le Fondre in particular putting in a pathetic attempt at winning a penalty under minimal to no pressure from Prince.

Wanderers moved ahead on 17 minutes as Feeney redeemed himself for his earlier miss, latching onto a long ball and providing an excellent finish into the bottom left corner on the half-turn.

Ben Amos had to be sharp a few minutes later to prevent lanky and ungainly centre-half Ethan Ebanks-Landell's close range header, before Afobe wasted a decent chance and Amos was again called into action to prevent James Henry.

Just as Wolves appeared to be getting back into the match at the end of the second half Wanderers provided a sucker punch with a goal on the stroke of half-time. The lively Wellington Silva collected the ball on the left wing and drove at the defence, causing havoc with a pacey jinking run that left Ebanks-Landell with no choice but to bring him down. Clough stepped up to calmly slot the ball home for his first goal of the season.

The second half began with Wolves keen to make amends for the first half calamity, although they again seemed more intent on ridiculous penalty claims. Neil Danns was replaced by Josh Vela after he suffered a concussion in an incident defending a corner, and the youngster put on an impressive performance both in terms of breaking up play and launching counter attacks.

Wolves should have been level after 17 minutes of the second half as Jed Wallace missed missed an absolute sitter rom close range after Afobe had gotten clear of the clutches of Prince for one of the few times all afternoon. Wolves' frustration began to tell as James Henry lashed out on Silva but was somehow not booked for a deliberate and blatant hack that some referees could produce a red card for.

Soon enough Wolves were back on level terms as all the diving and whinging by Le Fondre and Afobe proved successful, with the former adjudged to have been fouled in the box by Prince. The latter stepped up to finish from the spot and set up a nervy last 20 minutes for the home supporters.

A few minutes later Wanderers' hearts were in their mouths as Amos had a moment of the Bogdans, coming to claim a cross and getting nowhere near it but was relieved to see Dave Edwards fire the ball into the side netting. But the goalkeeper redeemed himself with a save from a good chipped effort by Le Fondre, and a superb save from Edwards' driven long range effort, which was actually given as a goal kick.

The end of the second half saw the attacking side of Mark Davies come into full force, with a series of trademark driving runs causing havoc in the Wolves defence. Davies first set up Madine only to see the striker blaze over, then put Heskey in at close range but the former England man fired straight at the onrushing Emiliano Martinez when he really should have finished the game off.

Madine also missed a chance to finish the game off as he latched onto an excellent Feeney cross, but tried to control on his chest when he should have headed across the goal. The big striker had a good game in terms of holding the ball up and bullying the central defenders, but he really needs to start hitting the back of the net sooner rather than later. He seems to have everything we need from a striker and his hustling, bustling style compliments the likes of Davies, Clough and Silva, he just needs to add goals to his game.

Wolves won a series of corners as the seconds ticked down towards the end of the match, but Wanderers held on to record a vital first win of the season.

It was a solid performance by Bolton, with the defence again impressing - particularly Prince, who put on yet another tackling masterclass, an impressive debut by Derik, who is much more accomplished on the ball than his centre-back partner, and the ever-impressive Lawrie Wilson cementing his place at right-back.

Going forwards, perhaps the biggest positive for Wanderers is that Mavies looks back to his brilliant best in the centre of the park, and it was great to see Vela seize his chance alongside him in the second half. Silva looks a real threat on the left wing when he runs at players, while Feeney also did well in patches on the opposite flank. Bolton still need to find a way to get Clough more into games, but this was certainly a more impressive attacking performance that gives us hope for the campaign ahead.