Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Blackburn Rovers

  • December 26, 2014 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/3e46d

Bolton began their Christmas schedule with a win, as they came from behind to beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1 at Macron Stadium.

Rovers had the better of the first half and went in ahead at the break, courtesy of Joshua King's 41st minute goal, but Wanderers turned the game around after the restart to take all three points from a challenging fixture.

Emile Heskey, on as a half-time substitute for Robert Hall, equalised just before the hour as he turned home Eidur Gudjohnsen's ball across the face of goal, before Darren Pratley's second in as many games sealed victory for Neil Lennon's side just three minutes later.

Jordan Rhodes thought he had equalised for Blackburn, when he slammed home at the midway point of the second-half, but match referee Craig Pawson ruled the strike out for a foul on Matt Mills as Wanderers secured yet another derby-day win over their Lancashire rivals.

Bolton lined up with the same team that started in last Friday's win at Millwall, with the only change to the 18 seeing Zach Clough take the place of Conor Wilkinson on the substitutes' bench.

Blackburn seemingly won the pre-match toss, with the two sides swapping ends prior to kick-off. Their hopes of disorientating the home side appeared to work, with Rhodes heading against the post with less than three minutes on the clock.

From the early exchanges, it was clear to see the visitors had set up to hit Bolton on the break - with Lennon's side struggling to break through a well organised Rovers defence.

Wanderers' first chance arrived in the 12th minute, with Hall curling a 25-yard free-kick wide of Jason Steele's left-hand post after Josh Vela had been hacked down.

Blackburn had a free-kick of their own moments later and would have taken the lead, but for the heroics of Andy Lonergan in the Bolton goal. After Neil Danns had brought down King on the edge of the Wanderers box, Ben Marshall's resulting free-kick struck the wall and fell kindly to Ryan Tunnicliffe - who brought a smart save out of Lonergan with a rasping volley.

Marshall was denied again midway through the half, as Lonergan got down well to concede a corner after being left exposed one-on-one with the Rovers midfielder.

Despite seeing the majority of their chances come on the break, Blackburn were lucky to survive just before the half-hour as a counter-attack from Bolton ended with Hall's cross from the right being volleyed inches wide by a stretching Gudjohnsen.

Rhodes fired wide of the target after being played clean through moments later, while Hall was denied a certain goal by Marcus Olsson - who threw his body in the way on the goalline.

Marshall dragged a shot wide at the half entered the final 10 minutes, but Rovers did take a lead into the break as King escaped the offside trap, rounded Lonergan and tucked the ball into the empty net with four minutes left before the break.

Bolton made one change at the start of the second period, as Heskey made his debut by taking the place of Hall.

His presence was felt immediately, as his cross from the right was fired narrowly wide by Feeney, who arrived late in the box.

Dorian Dervite and Shane Duffy both received yellow cards from match referee Craig Pawson, before Heskey's first shot in Wanderers colours was straight at Steele after he connected with Vela's cross on the volley.

The former England international had home supporters on their feet less than 60 seconds later, though, as a superb run and cross from Gudjohnsen resulted in Heskey tapping home at the far post.

After pulling themselves level, Bolton went in search of a lead and it almost arrived two minutes later as Lee Chung-Yong's goalbound shot was cleared off the line by Adam Henley.

Wanderers maintained the pressure, however, and went in front in the 62nd minute when Pratley scuffed a shot into the bottom corner of Steele's net after a knockdown from Mills fell kindly at his feet.

Blackburn had the ball in the net at the midway point of the half, as Rhodes fired low into the corner, but referee Pawson had already blown for an apparent foul on Mills in the build up.

The visitors thought they had equalised with 15 minutes to go, as a fumble from Lonergan caused all kind of mayhem in the Wanderers box. Rudy Gestede, on as a substitute for Tom Cairney, struck the crossbar before Rhodes hit the post twice in quick succession. To the naked eye, the ball appeared to have crossed the line, but neither the referee or his assistant agreed and play continued.

Another goalbound shot struck Pratley in the face seconds later, as Bolton's backline put their bodies on the line to help make sure their side's lead stayed intact.

Lonergan atoned for his earlier error by flicking Corry Evans' header over the top with 13 minutes to play, while Grant Hanley volleyed over the bar from the resulting corner.

Blackburn's final chance of the game arrived in the third of four added minutes for stoppages, but Rhodes' free-kick was blocked by the Bolton wall as the referee called time on the 165th meeting between the sides.

The three points moves Bolton up to 14th in the Championship table, as the season reaches the halfway stage. Wanderers see out 2014 when they return to action on Sunday, when they cross the Pennines for an away game against Huddersfield Town.

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, Vela, Mills, Dervite, Ream, Danns, Pratley, Hall (Heskey 46), Chung-Yong, Feeney (Wheater 88), Gudjohnsen (Trotter 76)
Subs Not Used: Bogdan, Moxey, Spearing, Clough
Booked: Dervite
Goals: Heskey 59, Pratley 62

Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Henley, Hanley, Duffy, Olsson, Marshall (Dunn 87), Tunnicliffe, Evans, King (Conway 75), Cairney (Gestede 69), Rhodes
Subs Not Used: Kilgallon, Eastwood, Varney, Williamson
Booked: Duffy, Evans
Goals: King 41

Referee: Craig Pawson
Attendance: 23,203

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
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