After a deflating midweek draw against Morecambe, Bolton hosted Alex Revell’s Stevenage at the University of Bolton Stadium. Bolton were boosted by the news that influential new signing Marcus Maddison was available after seeing his midweek red card overturned.
Bolton boss Ian Evatt made four changes to the starting line up which saw Declan John, Oladapo Afolayan and Marcus Maddison make their first starts since their January window signings as well as a return to the starting line up for Gethin Jones.
Despite the new fire power in the Wanderers side, it was the visitors who started the brighter as they looked to catch Bolton cold. Stevenage forward Luke Norris failed to get an early effort on target. The Stevenage pressure did not come without cost and when Bolton won the ball, their forward players benefitted from the space provided with Afolayan starting particularly brightly.
It would not take long for Stevenage to pay the price for their bravery as the bright Afolayan provided Declan John with the opportunity to fire home with his right foot and put Bolton in the lead. It was a fine strike from the edge of the penalty area and the ideal start for the Welshman to his Wanderers career.
Bolton nearly doubled their lead moments later as Eoin Doyle found space at the front post from a corner only to see his header hit the side netting with the goalkeeper beaten. It felt as though Bolton were likely to put the game to bed in that passage of play but the momentum waned and Stevenage began to find a foothold in the game again.
The game took a more balanced position for the remainder of the half. Bolton had a couple of chances, firstly with defender Alex Baptiste and then a confusion between MJ Williams and Eoin Doyle resulted in the passing of a big opportunity. Stevenage went close with an effort from former Celtic youngster Jack Aitcheson. A 1-0 scoreline in Bolton’s favour was probably fair as the teams headed to their dressing rooms for half time.
The second half saw chances come at a premium. For Wanderers, Afolayan remained at the heart of everything but was struggling to create that golden chance whilst Marcus Maddison’s afternoon was proving to be a frustrating one. Stevenage looked to pounce on Bolton on the counter which was providing them with the adequate space to create more threatening chances.
As Stevenage continued to get a grip of the game, they were handed a golden opportunity to get a result as MJ Williams was sent off following an awkward challenge. Replays suggested the decision was harsh and once again Bolton have appealed the decision.
It set up a nervy finish for Bolton as they looked to hang on to their lead with the memories of their midweek game against Morecambe fresh in their minds. Wanderers stood firm until the dying embers as Stevenage went close to snatching a point. Bolton held on to secure a much needed win as they enter a favourable run of fixtures and can harbour hopes of climbing up the table.