Crawley Town 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • August 28, 2012 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton are out of the Capital One Cup after suffering a 2-1 defeat to League One Crawley Town at the Broadfield Stadium.

For long periods of the game, Benik Afobe's 21st minute strike looked set to put Wanderers into the next round, but late goals from Billy Clarke and Nicky Ajose turned the game on its head and put Owen Coyle's side out of the competition.

Wanderers made seven changes from Friday night's draw with Nottingham Forest, one of which saw Josh Vela handed his first senior start for the club in the centre of midfield.

It was to be a night to forget for the 18-year-old, who had to be replaced as early as the seventh minute after taking a blow to his ankle after getting his studs stuck in the turf.

Bolton struggled to get a foothold in the game and were fortunate not to go behind two minutes after Vela's departure, with Kyle McFadzean seeing a header come back off the post from a teasing corner.

Both sides were enjoying spells in possession, but neither could find a way beyond their opposing defenders until Wanderers took the lead just before the midway point of the first half.

Joe Riley's clearance picked out Martin Petrov, who ran at former Wanderers defender Mark Connolly and played a superb angled ball to Afobe, who made no mistake in beating the helpless Paul Jones in the Crawley goal.

That goal appeared to settle the early nerves of a Bolton team desperately short of confidence, following their mixed start to the new campaign.

Both teams would then see penalty appeals turned down by match referee Graham Scott. First, Afobe went down in the Crawley box under a challenge from McFadzean, before Ajose tumbled at the other end after appearing to have his shirt pulled by Zat Knight.

Knight, who was somewhat fortunate to get away with his challenge on Ajose, soon had a shot at goal, but his 30-yard volley was of no danger to Jones, as it flew out of the stadium.

Wanderers took their advantage into the break, but twice came close to losing it within minutes of the restart, as Shaun Cooper and Nicky Adams both saw shots go narrowly off target.

Having replaced Vela in the early stages of the game, Bolton were forced into another change on the hour, with Marvin Sordell coming on for Afobe, who appeared to take a knock to the ribs moments earlier.

Crawley continued to press for an equaliser and it should have arrived shortly after the hour, but Mat Sadler could only plant his header onto the roof of Andy Lonergan's net from close range.

Wanderers had the ball in the net with 18 minutes to go, but Sordell's tap in from close range was ruled out for an offside against the London 2012 Olympian.

To rub salt into the wounds, Crawley were level with just over 10 minutes to go as Clarke picked up the ball just inside the box and curled a stunning shot beyond the despairing dive of Lonergan.

With the wind in their sails, the hosts almost scored a second within a minute of their equaliser, but Ajose's shot clipped the outside of the post with Lonergan beaten.

Bolton had endured a miserable night in front of goal, but twice came close to winning the game in the latter stages, only for Petrov and then Chris Eagles to be denied by Jones in the Crawley goal.

Sordell scuffed a shot wide of the target shortly afterwards, before substitute Darren Pratley was shown a yellow card for diving after going down under the challenge of Connolly inside the penalty area.

Television replays showed the decision was harsh on the Wanderers midfielder, but Crawley continued to play their football and secured their passage into the next round of the competition in stoppage time.

Clarke, who had earlier brought the hosts level, floated a cross into the box from the right flank and Ajose was on hand to power a header into the back of the Bolton net.

That was to be the final action of a disappointing evening for Bolton and Coyle, who must regroup ahead of Saturday's Championship fixture at Hull City.

Crawley Town: Jones, Sadler, McFadzean, Davis, Connolly, Adams, Torres (Bulman 46), Akpan, Ajose, Cooper (Clarke 75), Forte
Subs Not Used: Kuipers, Simpson, Hunt, Akinde, Neilson
Booked: Davis
Goals: Clarke 81, Ajose 90

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, Alonso, Ream, Knight, Riley, Petrov, Andrews, M Davies (K Davies 72), Vela (Pratley 7), Eagles, Afobe (Sordell 57)
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Mills, Wylde, Ricketts
Booked: Alonso, Pratley
Goals: Afobe 21

Referee: Graham Scott
Attendance: 2,678

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Pos Team Pld Pts
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20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
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