Tranmere Rovers 1-3 Bolton Wanderers

  • August 07, 2012 | By Chris Mann
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Benik Afobe scored a second half hat-trick as Bolton bounced back from Saturday's defeat at Portsmouth with a 3-1 victory over Tranmere Rovers.

Afobe was introduced as a half-time substitute for the injured Marvin Sordell and made no mistake in making a good impression in the Wanderers attack, with the new npower Championship season just over a week away.

Bolton boss Owen Coyle was clearly frustrated with his team's 3-0 defeat at Fratton Park last weekend and responded by making six changes to his starting line-up.

Wanderers looked like the better side from the off and came close to taking a second minute lead, with a superb free-kick from Chris Eagles acrobatically turned behind for a corner by Tranmere goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams.

Lee Chung-Yong was next to try his luck for the Trotters, sending a neat volley inches wide of the post after making a good run into the box.

The South Korea international was involved again midway through the half. After turning away from two Rovers players on the edge of his own penalty area, Chung-Yong picked out Kevin Davies and the Wanderers captain released Eagles, who, after outpacing Danny Holmes, dragged his shot wide of the target.

After returning from Olympic duty with Team GB, Sordell was given his first pre-season outing and he also came close to opening the scoring, as his smart shot on the turn rolled narrowly wide of Fon Williams' goal.

It wasn't all one way traffic, however, and the hosts came close with two chances before the break. First, Andy Robinson shot narrowly over the top from distance, before James Wallace came even closer to beating Andy Lonergan in the Bolton goal, as his shot curled just wide of the far post.

Bolton made two changes at the break, with Matt Mills and Afobe coming on for Zat Knight and the injured Sordell, who appeared to take a knock to his ankle in the latter stages of the opening period.

Afobe would produce a brilliant second half performance and he wasted no time in making his mark, scoring within five minutes of the restart.

Tranmere defender Mark McChrystal played himself into trouble in the Rovers backline and Afobe was on hand to capitalise, lashing the ball into the roof of Fon Williams' net from 12 yards.

The hosts hit back and almost levelled three minutes later, but Lonergan pushed the ball behind for a corner as Wallace looked set to score from fully 25 yards.

Shortly after Joe Riley had cleared the loose ball off his own goal-line, Robinson somehow poked the ball wide as the game advanced into the final 25 minutes.

Wanderers effectively ended the game as a contest with 16 minutes to go, as Afobe rose highest to head the ball past Fon Williams from Eagles' left-wing free-kick.

The on-loan Arsenal youngster would complete his hat-trick three minutes later, running on to a flick from Kevin Davies and slamming the ball into the back of the Tranmere net from the edge of the box.

The only downside to an impressive Bolton performance was the fact that Lonergan would lose his clean sheet in stoppage time, as Rovers substitute Max Power reacted quickest to head Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro's corner into the back of the Wanderers net.

Coyle will be pleased with the way his players bounced back from defeat at Portsmouth and will be hopeful of replicating this form when Wanderers host FC Barcelona B at the Reebok Stadium on Friday evening.

Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams, Holmes, Bakayogo, Taylor, McChrystal, Palmer, Thompson (Bell-Baggie 72), Wallace (Power 86), Akpa Akpro, Robinson, Cassidy
Subs Not Used: Harrison, Mooney, Kirby, Kay
Goals: Akpa Akpro 90

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, Alonso, Ream, Eagles (Wylde 76), Knight (Mills 46), K Davies, M Davies, Sordell (Afobe 46), Pratley (Vela 64), Riley, Chung-Yong (O'Halloran 79)
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Mears, Petrov, Lynch
Goals: Afobe 50,74,77

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Peterborough United 2 6
2 Exeter City 2 4
3 Bolton Wanderers 2 4
4 Sheffield Wednesday 2 4
5 Accrington Stanley 2 4
View Full Standings >>


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