Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Fleetwood Town

  • August 20, 2016 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's best start to a league campaign since 1934 continues, as goals from Gary Madine and Josh Vela help them to a 2-1 victory over Fleetwood Town.

Wanderers were poor inside the opening 45 minutes and trailed at the break courtesy of David Ball's 34th minute strike, but Phil Parkinson's side were much improved after the break and took the three points that their display deserved.

Madine levelled six minutes after the restart, drilling home after David Wheater had seen an effort cleared off the line, before Vela completed the comeback by smashing past Chris Neal after latching on to a knockdown from substitute Conor Wilkinson.

After sticking with the same team for the last two matches, Parkinson was forced into one alteration for the visit of the Cod Army, as Zach Clough came in for his first start of the season at the expense of the injured Jamie Proctor.

Bolton started brightly and could have gone ahead inside two minutes, only for Wheater to slice wide from a Jay Spearing corner, shortly before appeals for a penalty were ignored by referee Darren England, who opted to issue a yellow card to Mark Davies for simulation.

Mark Howard took goal once again for the hosts and he was called into action for the first time on 18 minutes, keeping out a snapshot from Ball.

Davies struggled to get the ball out of his feet when presented with a shooting opportunity midway through the half, moments before Liam Trotter curled wide from the edge of the box after receiving possession just inside the Town half.

Vela and Dean Moxey both shot off target as Wanderers continued to search for the breakthrough, while Howard twice made comfortable stops to deny both Ball and Chris Long.

Bolton had to make the first substitution of the afternoon shortly before the half-hour, as Clough's game came to an end with what appeared to be a recurrence of a hamstring injury. Kaiyne Woolery came on in his place.

With the ball back in play, the opening goal did finally arrive. However, much to the chagrin of the home supporters, it was Fleetwood who got it.

Sloppy defending from Moxey allowed Town to steal possession inside the box, allowing Ball to roll home beyond a helpless Howard.

Bolton went in search of an immediate equaliser, only to be thwarted as Neal threw himself down at the feet of Woolery to smother, moments before a full-stretch Howard tipped behind a goalbound shot from Ball, who had pounced on an awful backpass from Spearing.

Wanderers were booed off by pockets of supporters as they trailed at the break, but their mood was lifted after the break as an improved display reaped the rewards it deserved.

Madine thought he had levelled inside 60 seconds of the restart, only for Neal to produce an outstanding save to keep out his powerful header, but the forward did get on the scoresheet five minutes later as Bolton got themselves back on level terms.

Fleetwood failed to deal with a corner from Spearing and after Wheater's header had been cleared off the line, Madine reacted quickest to smash the ball into the net to equalise.

Trotter headed narrowly over the top as Bolton pressed for a lead, while Wheater headed over after getting on the end of another Spearing corner on the hour.

Howard had to be at his best to keep out a long-range effort from Long moments later, before a goalmouth scramble somehow failed to see Wanderers take the lead after Woolery's shot was blocked and Davies' resulting rebound kept out at point-blank range by Neal.

Spearing has two goals to his name already this season, the most recent of which was a delightful free-kick in the midweek win at Bristol Rovers. He took responsibility for a dead-ball with 15 minutes remaining, only this time his strike from the edge of the box just cleared the top of the crossbar.

Howard tipped a Bobby Grant shot over the top with 10 to play, but it was Bolton's persistence that paid off on 84 minutes as they finally went ahead after a long period of pressure.

Lewis Buxton's cross to the far post was knocked down by Wilkinson, who had just come on for Madine. Woolery failed to get the ball under control, but Vela was alert to the threat and drilled beyond Neal to complete the comeback.

Three minutes of added time passed by without incident, as Bolton kept possession deep in Fleetwood territory to seal a fourth straight win at the start of a league season for the first time in 82 years. They remain top of the League One table, two points ahead of both Scunthorpe United and Bradford City.

Wanderers return to action next Saturday, when Charlton Athletic, who were relegated alongside the Trotters last season, welcome Parkinson's side to The Valley.

Bolton Wanderers: Howard, Buxton, Wheater, Beevers, Moxey, Vela, Spearing, Trotter, Davies, Clough (Woolery 33), Madine (Wilkinson 80)
Subs Not Used: Amos, C Taylor, Osede, A Taylor, Wilson
Booked: Davies, Spearing
Goals: Madine 51, Vela 84

Fleetwood Town: Neal, McLaughlin, Pond, Eastham, Bell, Ball (Cole 77), Ryan, Jonsson (Holloway 60), Hunter (Grant 60), Nirennold, Long
Subs Not Used: Kip, Bolger, Duckworth, Cairns
Booked: McLaughlin
Goals: Ball 34

Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 13,524

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


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