Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Oxford United

  • October 01, 2016 | By Chris Mann
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Oxford United secured a first league win at Bolton in 40 years, as Wanderers' alarming slump from the League One summit continues.

It took two goals inside the final 10 minutes from Wes Thomas and Chris Maguire to seal victory for the U's, but, in truth, the game should have been much more comfortable, with the hosts failing to muster a shot on target as they made it four matches without a goal.

After topping the League One table following four successive wins at the start of the campaign, Bolton have now gone eight without success in all competitions and dropped to 8th after their latest defeat - eight points off top spot.

Phil Parkinson made five changes to the side that started the defeat at Rochdale on Tuesday, as Josh Vela, Mark Beevers, Andrew Taylor, Zach Clough and Gary Madine all returned at the expense of Lawrie Wilson, Tom Thorpe, Keshi Anderson and Jamie Proctor, all of whom were named amongst the substitutes, while Chris Taylor dropped out completely.

Play was halted twice during a strange opening five minutes to the game, as both Mark Howard and Simon Eastwood required treatment at either end of the pitch following collisions with opposing attackers.

The game's first shooting opportunity fell the way of the visitors with eight minutes on the clock, but Joe Rothwell's chipped attempt at goal landed on the roof of the Wanderers net after he had combined well with Kane Hemmings.

Oxford were back on the attack moments later, with Howard this time called into action to keep out a flicked effort from Maguire, who had got on the end of a cross from Marvin Johnson.

Supporters of both clubs rose to their feet in the 17th minute, as they showed their support for former Bolton forward Ivan Klasnic, who is critically ill in a German hospital after suffering from kidney failure.

Back to the action, Maguire was next to try his luck for the visitors, but his 25-yard strike flew harmlessly wide of Howard's post, while Bolton's first effort came from James Henry, whose effort clipped the heels of Joe Skarz on its way behind for a corner.

Hemmings, Rothwell and Maguire all shot wide as the clock ticked beyond the midway point of the half, before Henry sliced wide for Wanderers at the other end, shortly before Eastwood came racing off his line to deny Clough a clear shot on goal.

Madine shot wide shortly afterwards, before Beevers became the first player to enter the referee's notebook for a challenge on Johnson which prevented a counter-attack.

Bolton should have gone ahead on 37 minutes after Jay Spearing had picked out the run of Clough. With little space to get a shot away, he cut the ball back to Taylor, who scuffed his shot, before Henry shot just over as he followed up.

Appeals for a penalty were rejected by referee Mark Haywood when Clough went to ground shortly before the break, before Oxford were unfortunate not to take a half-time lead when Howard spilled a Maguire free-kick before making an outstanding save to keep out Hemmings' rebound.

There were no changes to the Bolton side that emerged for the start of the second period, although U's boss Michael Appleton did make one alteration - with Alexander MacDonald coming on in place of Johnson in midfield.

Wanderers failed to test Eastwood inside the opening 45 minutes but came close to breaking the deadlock within two minutes of the restart, as Charlie Raglan's defensive header just cleared his own crossbar as he prevented a cross from Taylor reaching an unmarked Clough.

John Lundstram and Liam Trotter were both booked shortly before the hour, as neither side carved out any serious attacking threat, prompting the two managers into making substitutions.

Appleton was first, bringing Thomas on for Rothwell, while Parkinson made a triple change for the hosts, bringing Sammy Ameobi, Anderson and Proctor on in place of Henry, Madine and Clough.

Ameobi's first involvement was to fire aimlessly over the crossbar from 25 yards, moments before a low ball into the box from Dean Moxey was easily gathered by Eastwood, after he had been played in by the on-loan Newcastle United midfielder.

Hemmings should have broken the deadlock with 15 minutes to play, but he shot straight at Howard after being found at the far post, before the Wanderers goalkeeper once again made a crucial block, this time to keep out MacDonald.

Oxford's pressure finally paid off on 81 minutes though, as a wicked cross from MacDonald picked out an unmarked Thomas and he made no mistake in firing past Howard at the first attempt.

Bolton failed to trouble the Oxford defence in the period that followed and were hit in the final minute of normal time, as Maguire slotted home a second after Howard had performed heroics to deny Hemmings in a one-on-one situation.

Beevers joined the Wanderers attack for the four minutes that was added for stoppages, but he couldn't contribute any extra threat as Parkinson's side extended their winless to run eight matches with a chorus of boos echoing around a previously lifeless Macron Stadium.

Bolton return to action on Tuesday, when they play host to Blackpool in the Checkatrade Trophy, while their next involvement in the league is at Swindon Town next Saturday lunchtime.

Bolton Wanderers: Howard, Vela, Beevers, Wheater, Moxey, Spearing, Henry (Ameobi 68), A Taylor, Trotter, Madine (Proctor 68), Clough (Anderson 68)
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Osede, Wilson, Thorpe
Booked: Beevers, Trotter, Vela

Oxford United: Eastwood, Edwards, Dunkley, Raglan, Skarz, Johnson (MacDonald 46), Rothwell (Thomas 64), Sercombe, Lundstram, Maguire, Hemmings
Subs Not Used: Crowley, Buchel, Ruffels, Taylor, Long
Booked: Lundstram
Goals: Thomas 81, Maguire 90

Referee: Mark Haywood
Attendance: 14,207

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Portsmouth 19 42
2 Bolton Wanderers 18 39
3 Oxford United 18 36
4 Stevenage 20 36
5 Peterborough United 19 35
View Full Standings >>


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