Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Watford

  • September 15, 2012 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/9e7b9

Bolton maintained their unbeaten home record as first half goals from Matt Mills and Kevin Davies gave them a 2-1 win over Watford at the Reebok Stadium.

Wanderers looked certain winners after taking a two-goal advantage into the break, but Gianfranzo Zola's side came back into the game in the second half courtesy of Lloyd Doyley.

The visitors tried to push for a late equaliser but Bolton managed to keep possession to see out the game and claim the three points that their first half performance merited.

Wanderers boss Owen Coyle made two changes from the side that lost 3-1 at Hull City a fortnight ago, with Marcos Alonso and David Ngog taking the places of Sam Ricketts and Lee Chung-Yong.

The hosts raced out of the blocks and almost found themselves a good to the good inside two minutes. Chris Eagles' outswinging corner was headed goalwards by Ngog, but Manuel Almunia did superbly well to claw the ball away. Alonso then directed the loose ball towards goal, only to see it cleared off the line by a Watford defender.

Bolton maintained their early pressure, however, and did take the lead from their next attack. Another corner from Eagles picked out Mills, who headed the ball past Almunia, who somehow contrived to fumble the ball into his own net.

Watford struggled to get out of their own half in the opening 45 minutes, with a tame strike from Mark Yeates the best they had to offer. On this occasion, the ball rolled kindly into the grasp of Adam Bogdan in the Trotters goal.

At the other end, Keith Andrews sent a half volley wide of the target, before Almunia did well to deny Ngog, who almost managed to beat the former Arsenal goalkeeper from an acute angle.

Mills thought he had doubled Bolton's advantage just after the half-hour, as he headed home another cross from the right flank. The goal was ruled out, however, as referee Eddie Ilderton had blown his whistle for a foul on Almunia by Wanderers skipper Kevin Davies.

Bolton had a major scare as the game entered the final five minutes of the first half, with Ngog on hand to clear a Nyron Nosworthy shot off the line from a corner.

That clearance proved pivotal, as the hosts doubled their lead little over a minute later. Another set-piece from Eagles picked out its intended target, with Kevin Davies unmarked to smash a fine volley into the far corner.

A seemingly harmless volley from Yeates clipped the Bolton crossbar in stoppage time at the end of the first half, but Wanderers would have been delighted as they took their 2-0 lead into the break.

In a total opposite to the way the first half started, Watford began the second period piling to the pressure on the hosts. Wanderers, however, were the first to create a chance of note and it was one that almost saw them add to their lead.

Ngog found space behind the Watford defence and after Almunia had somehow clawed his cross away from danger, Eagles followed up, only to see his goalbound strike deflected behind by Nosworthy.

Watford were determined to make a game of it and pulled one back just before the hour as Doyley's cross flew over the head of Bogdan and landed in the back of the net. Whether it was intentional or not remains unclear, but Zola's side were back in the match.

Both sides offered precious little in terms of attacking intent in the final half hour, with Nosworthy coming closest for the Hornets. He, however, could only head Yeates' corner wide of the target.

Mark Davies saw a half chance go narrowly wide of goal as the game entered the final 20 minutes, before Kevin Davies somehow headed straight at Almunia after being picked out inside the box by on-loan Benik Afobe.

Bolton began to fall deeper and deeper into their own half as six minutes of stoppage time were played, but they held on to claim the three points and maintain their unbeaten record on home turf this season.

Coyle's side return to action on Tuesday night when they face struggling Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight, Alonso, M Davies, Andrews (Pratley 66), Spearing, Eagles, K Davies, Ngog (Afobe 59)
Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Petrov, Ricketts, Sordell, Chung-Yong
Booked: Afobe, Mears
Goals: Mills 3, K Davies 42

Watford: Almunia, Doyley, Neuton, Nosworthy, Pudil, Yeates (Beleck 88), Hogg, Abdi (Smith 80), Murray (Forestieri 67), Iwelumo, Vydra
Subs Not Used: Bond, Cassetti, Chalobah, Ekstrand
Booked: Doyley, Pudil
Goals: Doyley 58

Referee: Eddie Ilderton
Attendance: 16,608

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