Bolton Wanderers 3-1 MK Dons

  • January 23, 2016 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton claimed back-to-back wins for the first time since December 2014, after comfortably beating MK Dons 3-1 at Macron Stadium.

Billed ahead of kick-off as Wanderers' biggest game of the season by Ladbrokes, Neil Lennon's side were outstanding against one of their relegation rivals, as goals from Rob Holding, Darren Pratley and Shola Ameobi, on his final appearance for the club, moved the Trotters to within a point of Charlton Athletic at the foot of the Championship table.

Josh Murphy was on the scoresheet for the visitors, but it was no more than mere consolation for Karl Robinson's men, who continue to hover just two points above the drop zone - six ahead of Bolton.

Ben Amos returned in goal for Wanderers, in the only change to the side that started against Eastleigh on Tuesday, while opportunities presented themselves for Derik Osede and Filip Twardzik to take up places on the substitutes' bench in place of Prince-Desir Gouano and Neil Danns.

Jonny Williams had an early attempt on goal for the visitors, who found themselves behind with just seven minutes on the clock courtesy of an unlikely scorer.

After Gary Madine had outjumped Dons goalkeeper David Martin to head a Liam Feeney cross against the bar, Holding pounced to slam the loose ball home from close range and net his first senior goal for the club.

Just moments after scoring at one end, Holding was involved at the other as he slid in like a seasoned-pro to deny Joe Walsh a clear run on Amos' goal.

Walsh came close to an equaliser on the quarter-hour though, as he found space to meet a flick from Antony Kay and head against the crossbar.

The away side then began to take control of possession, without making any serious attempt to break through the Wanderers defence. That looked set to cost them as, just after the half-hour, Madine directed a header goalwards, only to be denied by a clearance from Jake Forster-Caskey on the line.

Wellington Silva was next to try his luck, cutting in from the left before forcing Martin into a save with his legs, before the on-loan Arsenal winger watched on as he saw a 25-yard strike deflect inches wide of the far post.

Then, with four minutes to go until the break, Bolton doubled their advantage. After Mark Davies' run into the box was halted by a sliding challenge from Joe Walsh, the ball fell kindly to Pratley whose shot was deflected into the roof of the net.

Pratley and Feeney both shot over in the closing stages of the half, as the hosts took a morale-boosting 2-0 lead into the interval.

There were no changes to either side at the start of the second period, which began with Bolton coming close to adding a third as Liam Trotter prodded wide from a low ball into the box from Feeney.

Madine shot straight at Martin moments later, before a rare venture forward from Holding ended with him cutting in from the left and bringing a save out of the goalkeeper with a curling right-footed effort from the edge of the box.

A neat move involving Dean Moxey and Pratley almost resulted in a tap-in for Feeney, but a half-clearance from Dean Lewington fell straight at the feet of Madine, whose follow-up brought a comfortable stop out of Martin.

Samir Carruthers became the first player to enter the book on the hour for a late lunge at Silva, who required treatment for a knock to the knee as a result, but his momentary absence didn't affect his team, who came close to netting when Moxey sent a half-volley just wide.

Holding shot wide again midway through the half, with the home supporters encouraging him to have a go from 30 yards, before Amos was called into action for the first time by clawing a lobbed attempt from Dean Bowditch away for a corner.

Madine headed over from close range as he got on the end of a cross from Josh Vela with 15 minutes to go, with what proved to be his final act as Ameobi came on for his Macron Stadium swansong to a standing ovation.

Ameobi's impact was almost instant, as he latched on to a through ball from Davies before shooting at the legs of Martin, before he sent a looping header onto the top of the net moments later.

Davies almost registered his first goal of the season with two minutes to play, as his shot from a Jay Spearing cutback was blocked on the line, allowing the Dons to break and pull a goal back to set up a tense finale.

There appeared to be little available for Murphy, who opted to shoot from 30 yards and successfully picked out the bottom corner to spark a sudden sense of urgency and belief into the visitors.

That newfound belief ended just as quickly as it had started, though, as Ameobi slotted home in stoppage time. After getting on the end of a hopeful punt upfield, the former Newcastle United forward worked his way inbetween both Walsh and Jordan Spence before calmly rolling the ball past Martin.

Forster-Caskey headed wide for the Dons in the final minute, as referee Kevin Wright called time on a game which moves Bolton to within a point of Charlton at the foot of the Championship table.

Lennon's side are in FA Cup action next time out, as they play host to Leeds United next Saturday, before travelling to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday week for the resumption of their league fixtures.

Bolton Wanderers: Amos, Vela, Holding, Dervite, Moxey, Trotter, Feeney, Pratley, Davies, Silva (Spearing 86), Madine (Ameobi 79)
Subs Not Used: Rachubka, Osede, Dobbie, Twardzik, Woolery
Booked: Davies, Pratley
Goals: Holding 7, Pratley 41, Ameobi 90+1

MK Dons: Martin, Spence, Kay, Walsh, Lewington, Potter, Forster-Caskey, Carruthers (Powell 80), Williams (Bowditch 62), Murphy, Church (Rasulo 62)
Subs Not Used: Hodson, Reeves, Hitchcock, Cropper
Booked: Carruthers, Forster-Caskey
Goals: Murphy 89

Referee: Kevin Wright
Attendance: 13,932

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
7 Plymouth Argyle 46 80
8 Oxford United 46 76
9 Bolton Wanderers 46 73
10 Portsmouth 46 73
11 Ipswich Town 46 70
View Full Standings >>


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