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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Walsall

Wanderers get their first win of 2017 in style


Despite off field issues coming into fruition this week, Bolton Wanderers ran riot on the pitch, beating Walsall 4-1 on Saturday.

Going into the game, Phil Parkinson made several changes from the side that drew 1-1 with MK Dons last week. With injuries to Lawrie Wilson and Lewis Buxton, Wanderers went into the game with a 3-5-2 formation, with Derik Osede drafted into defence and Liam Trotter recalled to the starting line-up in midfield alongside Jay Spearing. Adam Le Fondre made his first start since his return on transfer deadline day.

And it would be Le Fondre who nearly opened the scoring just ten seconds into the game. Derik's long pass up the field found its way to Le Fondre via Gary Madine, but his volley was saved by Neil Etheridge.

Wanderers were shocked in the fourth minute when Walsall took the lead in spectacular fashion. Erhun Oztumer caught Ben Alnwick off guard with a stunning strike from forty yards to send the travelling Saddlers fans wild.

For a moment it looked like Bolton's poor form would continue, but the hosts were level just ten minutes later.

Jay Spearing’s corner was headed in off the post by Gary Madine for his seventh goal of the season.

Bolton continued to grow into the game and were ahead in the 25th minute. Jay Spearing was again involved, as his stinging low cross was put away by Walsall defender James O'Connor. 2-1 Bolton.

Wanderers extended their lead in wondrous fashion in the 30th minute. The ball found its way to Liam 'Ya Ya' Trotter, who volleyed the ball over the goalkeeper and into the top corner from thirty yards.

Just before half time, a neat interchange between Liam Trotter and Adam Le Fondre almost resulted in a fourth goal, but Bolton would go into half time 3-1 up.

The start of the second half was delayed due to a change in match officials, with lineswoman Helen Byrne rushed to hospital. Luckily it's not serious as she has been discharged from Bolton Royal.

Walsall were almost gifted a way back into the game just minutes into the second half. Ben Alnwick slipped, allowing Amadou Bakayoko a chance to be clean through on goal. Fortunately, the Walsall player ended up shooting wide from a tight angle.

At the other end, Andrew Taylor failed to keep a shot from distance down, before becoming the first player in the book for a late tackle on Jason McCarthy.

Walsall then had another glorious chance to close the gap on the hour mark. Florent Cuvelier's shot was blocked on the line by Mark Beevers. Did it cross the line before Beevers cleared? Who knows.

Adam Le Fondre, the one player every Wanderers fan was dying to see score, scuffed Filipe Morais' cross wide. You'd think a fully match fit ALF would have buried such an opportunity.

Five minutes later, Le Fondre was replaced by Chris Long.

Gary Madine then found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper, but Etheridge was on hand to deny Madine another goal.

In the 84th minute, Wanderers had a goal disallowed. Chris Long fired home, although the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.

Chris Long wouldn't have to wait long for his first Wanderers goal.

Just three minutes after seeing a goal ruled out for offside, Long beat the defender for pace before breaking the back of the net with a thunderous shot that flew into the top corner from a really narrow angle. 4-1.

Chris Long then had another golden opportunity to make it five, but his chipped shot didn't have enough on it to beat Etheridge.

So, the game would end 4-1. The result ensures Wanderers stay in 3rd place.

Bolton will look to make it back to back wins on Tuesday when they face promotion chasers Rochdale.