Bolton Wanderers 3-4 Watford

  • February 14, 2015 | By Chris Mann
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Neil Lennon's unbeaten league record at Macron Stadium came to an end, as Watford scored in the final minute to secure a 4-3 victory over Bolton.

The Hornets took the lead with 25 minutes played as Odion Ighalo slotted past Andy Lonergan, but Wanderers turned the game around to lead at the break courtesy of goals from Zach Clough and Adam Le Fondre.

Bolton wasted two glorious opportunities to extend their lead after the break and were punished when two strikes inside five minutes from Almen Abdi and Joel Ekstrand put the visitors 3-2 up.

Clough equalised with five minutes left to play, before Troy Deeney, on as a substitute for Gabriele Angella, fired home in the last minute of normal time.

David Wheater thought he had earned the hosts a point in the closing stages of added time, but the referee's assistant had already raised his flag for an earlier offside against Tom Eaves as Bolton tasted home defeat in the Championship for the first time since October.

Lennon made one change to the side that started against Fulham on Tuesday night, as Eidur Gudjohnsen dropped to the bench to provide Clough with a starting role.

Bolton had the best of the early play on a crisp afternoon at the Macron, with Le Fondre twice coming close to opening the scoring inside the first five minutes.

Ikechi Anya was denied a certain goal by some outstanding defending from Wheater and Dorian Dervite in the moments that followed, before Wheater, on his 28th birthday, headed narrowly wide of Heurelho Gomes' right-hand post from a Barry Bannan corner.

Saidy Janko and Abdi were denied by the goalkeepers at each end of the pitch, moments before Wheater once again glanced a header wide of the target after Gomes had received treatment for an injury.

Janko sliced wide of the target on 24 minutes, just 60 seconds before Wanderers fell behind as Ighalo broke free inside the box and slotted the ball into the bottom corner of Lonergan's goal to open the scoring.

Bolton, who had conceded against the run of play, came close to a quick response when Le Fondre's goalbound strike was cleared off the line by Ben Watson, before Gomes stuck out a fingertip to push a long-range shot from Bannan over the crossbar.

The hosts' pressure finally paid off in the 37th minute when Liam Feeney's cross picked out Clough, who calmly fired past Gomes from close range to bring the scores level. There was controversy in the build-up, however, as the assistant referee had raised his flag for an offside against Le Fondre, but his decision was overruled and the goal was allowed to stand.

Tim Ream, who had yet to score in Wanderers colours, struck the side netting when it looked easier to score, but Bolton did have the ball in the net four minutes before the break as Le Fondre gambled at the near post to direct Feeney's cross into the far corner and give the home side a 2-1 lead going into the break.

There were no changes in personnel at the start of the second period, as Watford resumed the game as the better side.

The first chance of note fell the way of Abdi, whose long-range free-kick was turned away by Lonergan, before Bolton threatened to extend their lead with a number of counter attacks.

As the game reached the hour, Gomes got down well to push away a shot from Le Fondre before rising to his feet to deny Clough at the near post.

Bolton soon had another chance to make the score 3-1 as Le Fondre raced clear of the Watford defence, but he failed to get the necessary contact on his chipped attempt and the ball rolled harmlessly wide of the post.

The home side would go on to rue those missed opportunities, as the visitors pulled level with 69 minutes to play as Abdi picked out the top corner from 25 yards.

Le Fondre and Clough twice failed to add to their respective goals as Bolton looked to go back ahead immediately, but they were once again caught out at the back as Ekstrand headed home from close range to spark wild scenes from the away supporters behind the goal.

Lonergan was at his best to deny Abdi a second of the game soon after, but the afternoon's goalscoring wasn't finished quite yet as Clough got on the end of a cross from Feeney to strike home an equaliser with just five minutes left to play.

Then, with the clock just ticking over into four minutes of stoppage time, Deeney, who had come on as a substitute earlier in the half, worked himself into half a yard of space on the edge of the Bolton box and picked out the bottom corner of Lonergan's net to give Watford a 4-3 lead.

Wanderers pushed forward in desperate search of a late leveller and they thought it had arrived in the final seconds, but Wheater was denied a birthday goal by an offside flag that had been raised against Eaves in the build up.

The full-time whistle saw Bolton's unbeaten home record under Lennon come to an end, on an afternoon where Wanderers paid for missing a number of chances at key stages of the game. They drop to 15th in the Championship after the result, ahead of next Saturday's trip to Dougie Freedman's Nottingham Forest.

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, Vela, Wheater, Dervite, Ream, Danns, Bannan (Eaves 90), Janko (Gudjohnsen 81), Clough, Feeney, Le Fondre
Subs Not Used: Moxey, Hall, Amos, Twardzik, Slavchev
Booked: Bannan
Goals: Clough 37,85, Le Fondre 41

Watford: Gomes, Cathcart, Ekstrand, Angella (Deeney 57), Paredes, Abdi, Watson (Tozser 66), Layun, Anya, Vydra (Forestieri 65), Ighalo
Subs Not Used: Munari, Pudil, Bond, Hoban
Booked: Cathcart, Ighalo
Goals: Ighalo 25, Abdi 69, Ekstrand 74, Deeney 90

Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Attendance: 14,230

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Exeter City 2 1
20 Tranmere Rovers 2 1
21 Bolton Wanderers 2 0
22 Oldham Athletic 2 0
23 Grimsby Town 2 0
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