Bristol City 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

  • April 13, 2013 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton moved into the play-off places for the first time this season after beating Bristol City 2-1 at Ashton Gate.

Wanderers took the lead with less than two minutes played as a dangerous cross from Darren Pratley was turned into his own net by City defender Liam Fontaine.

Bolton took their one-goal advantage into the break, but the hosts were level within four minutes of the restart as Steve Davies had the simple task of directing Albert Adomah's cross beyond Adam Bogdan.

Dougie Freedman's side secured the victory 11 minutes from time, though, as Craig Davies slammed the ball home from the penalty spot after David Ngog had been held back inside the area. The three points moves Bolton above Leicester City and Nottingham Forest in the Championship table, and into sixth position.

Wanderers made one change to the side that beat Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend with Pratley taking the place of Medo Kamara, who was on the bench.

Bolton have made a habit of scoring early goals in recent weeks and they continued that trend with just two minutes gone as a wicked cross from Pratley was turned into his own net by Fontaine, who was under pressure from a lurking Marvin Sordell.

Chris Eagles came close to doubling the advantage with a 30 yard drive just three minutes later, before Bristol City nearly pulled level in seemingly innocuous circumstances. Liam Kelly's cross from the right looped up and caught Bogdan by surprise, only to land inches wide of the far post and go behind for a goal-kick.

Ngog saw two half-chances come to nothing as the game approached the 20 minute mark, while Stephen Pearson blazed an effort high over the Wanderers crossbar at the midway point of the half.

Pearson caught Jay Spearing with a late challenge shortly afterwards and Marcos Alonso shot narrowly wide of the target from the resulting free-kick. Spearing came close with an attempt of his own just before the half hour, but his 30 yard shot flashed just wide of Tom Heaton's post.

The earlier collision between Pearson and Spearing appeared to knock the stuffing out of both players, who were replaced before the break. Paul Anderson took the place of Pearson for City, while Kamara came on for Spearing.

Kamara's introduction came just moments after City came close to equalising in controversial circumstances. A handball by Davies was not spotted by match referee Mark Haywood and he would surely have levelled but for a superb save by Bogdan, who ensured Bolton took their lead into the half-time break.

The hosts made one change at the start of the second half, with Matthew Bates taking the place of Fontaine. Wanderers emerged unchanged, with Kamara having earlier replaced Spearing.

Pratley brought a smart save out of Heaton in Bolton's first attack after the restart, but their lead was wiped out as City restored parity with 49 minutes on the clock.

Poor defending from Alonso resulted in Adomah stealing possession from the Wanderers full-back. Adomah played a fine ball into the box, where Davies stopped to head past Bogdan and bring the scores level.

The Robins almost completed an unlikely turnaround just two minutes later, but Bogdan was alert to tip a Greg Cunningham cross behind for a corner.

Adomah came close when he headed wide on 57 minutes, while Sordell blasted a shot high into the stands just before the hour and Ngog headed straight at Heaton moments later.

After a brief lull in play, the next chance came the way of the visitors with little more than 15 minutes left to play. Zat Knight rose highest to head a corner towards goal. The ball found a way through a host of defenders, but Heaton was alert to the danger and made a good save.

Sordell had the ball in the net two minutes later, only to see it ruled out for offside. The decision clearly upset the England under-21 international, who was booked for dissent before being replaced by Craig Davies.

Davies, who was a £300,000 signing from Barnsley in January, would made an instant impact, as he fired Wanderers ahead just four minutes after his arrival.

After being tugged back inside the area, Ngog was awarded a controversial penalty by the referee's assistant. The referee initially allowed play to continue, only to change his mind upon the decision of his assistant.

Eagles claimed the ball and looked set to take the resulting spot-kick, only for Knight to step in and give the it to Davies. The January signing stepped up, kept his cool and smashed the ball straight down the middle of the goal to restore Bolton's lead.

There were big penalty appeals at the other end with five minutes left to play, as the ball appeared to strike substitute Danny Butterfield on the arm, but the referee signalled play-on - much to the disbelief of the City bench.

Heaton came forward as City won a stoppage time corner. The Robins goalkeeper got his head to the ball, only to see his effort fly over the top as Bolton claimed only their fourth away league win of the season.

The three points moves Bolton into the Championship play-off places for the first time this campaign, ahead of a crucial trip to Leicester City on Tuesday night.

Bristol City: Heaton, Moloney (Taylor 86), Nyatanga, Fontaine (Bates 46), Cunningham, Adomah, Elliott, Kelly, Pearson (Anderson 31), Baldock, Davies
Subs Not Used: Gerken, Foster, Kilkenny, Howard
Booked: Anderson
Goals: Davies 49

Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Ricketts, Knight, Dawson, Alonso, Eagles (Butterfield 83), Pratley, Spearing (Kamara 44), Chung-Yong, Ngog, Sordell (C Davies 74)
Subs Not Used: Lonergan, Ream, K Davies, Hall
Booked: Pratley, Sordell
Goals: Fontaine 2(og), C Davies 79(pen)

Referee: Mark Haywood
Attendance: 12,935

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Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Cheltenham Town 40 72
2 Cambridge United 41 71
3 Bolton Wanderers 40 67
4 Tranmere Rovers 40 65
5 Morecambe 40 63
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