Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Sheffield United

  • December 04, 2016 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton booked their place in the third round of the FA Cup as they beat League One promotion rivals Sheffield United 3-2 at Macron Stadium.

Wanderers took the lead shortly before the break as Gary Madine, once of Sheffield Wednesday, hooked the ball beyond Aaron Ramsdale from a corner, and they doubled their advantage inside the opening minute of the second period when Sammy Ameobi lashed home from range.

Sheffield United got themselves back in the game on 64 minutes when Paul Coutts' deflected effort squirmed beyond Ben Alnwick, but Bolton restored their two-goal advantage with six minutes to go when Josh Vela latched on to a through ball from Zach Clough before firing low into the corner.

The Blades set up a tense finish at the Macron as Jack O'Connell headed home a corner from Freeman, but Wanderers saw out the clock and booked their place in the third round draw.

Phil Parkinson made one change to the Bolton side that started the victory at Northampton Town last time out, as fit again David Wheater returned to partner Mark Beevers in defence. Derik Osede, who had excelled during Wheater's absence, took up a place amongst the substitutes.

After a tepid start to proceedings, it was Wanderers who created the first shooting chance. It came with seven minutes on the clock, as Ameobi curled wide of Ramsdale's right-hand post following a burst forward from midfield by Vela.

United responded five minutes later, as Chris Hussey found space down the Bolton left. His cross picked out an unmarked Stefan Scougall, but his header failed to test Alnwick and bounced harmlessly wide of goal.

The visitors saw appeals for a penalty turned down when Caolan Lavery had a goalbound shot blocked by Beevers on 18 minutes, moments before Wanderers forced a corner from which Wheater headed over the bar.

Bolton won three corners in quick succession just before the half-hour, from which Madine was denied on multiple occasions. After seeing a header deflect behind, he rose to connect with another ball into the box from Spearing, only to be denied by an outstanding save from Ramsdale.

The hosts thought they had broken the deadlock from the third of those corners. After Ramsdale had made another fine stop to keep out a strike from Beevers, Wheater sent the ball goalwards but was thwarted in his attempts to score by seeing his shot cleared off the line, with television replays proving inconclusive as to whether or not it had actually gone in.

Bolton maintained their pressure in the final third and came close again on 34 minutes, as Clough cut inside from the left before bending a shot inches wide of Ramsdale's far post.

United, against the run of play, came close to scoring themselves shortly afterwards. A crossfield ball from Leon Clarke was headed back across goal by Lavery, but Scougall somehow fired wide from six yards as Bolton were left to breathe a huge sigh of relief.

The opening goal did eventually arrive in the final minute of the half though, as a long-throw from Andrew Taylor was flicked on by Tom Thorpe and Madine hooked the ball beyond a helpless Ramsdale to give the home side the lead going into the interval.

There were no changes to either team at the start of the second period, in which it took just 30 seconds for Bolton to double their advantage.

A weaving run from Clough saw him provide a layoff to Ameobi, who curled an unstoppable shot beyond Ramsdale from 30 yards to make it 2-0 to the home side.

United tried to force a way back into the game as a cross fell kindly at the feet of Kieron Freeman, but he couldn't find a way past Alnwick, who made a fine save at his near post.

It wasn't long until Bolton were back on the front foot, however, and they came close to adding a third on 55 minutes, only for Ramsdale to make the save as Madine rose to meet a corner from Spearing.

After a period of inactivity in both attacks, the Blades reduced the deficit shortly after the hour. Coutts received possession on the edge of the Wanderers box and his deflected effort bounced agonisingly inside Alnwick's post to bring the visitors back into the game at 2-1.

United looked the more likely scorers at this stage, aside from a brief lapse at the back from which Clough almost stole in, but the visitors were wasteful in front of goal, with Lavery firing over after cutting in from the left.

Freeman was next to come close, heading over from a Scougall corner with 15 minutes to go, before Bolton made their first change of the afternoon - introducing Osede in place of Thorpe.

The hosts had the chance to seal the win moments later, as Spearing put Clough in the clear. With two defenders tracking back to halt his progress, Clough squared to Madine but his first-time attempt was straight at Ramsdale.

Fleck fired harmlessly into the stands from 30 yards as time began to run out on the Blades, a miss which proved costly as Bolton added a third with six minutes to go and seemingly secure their place in the third round.

Clough received the ball just outside the United penalty area and fed a through pass to Vela, who took one touch before firing low and hard into the bottom corner.

Sheffield United refused to lay down, however, and were back in the game just two minutes later as a corner from Freeman was headed past Alnwick at his near post by O'Connell.

They desperately went in search of an equaliser inside four added minutes for stoppages, with Freeman seeing a low cross cut out by Alnwick, but that elusive goal failed to arrive and it was Bolton who booked their place in round three of the competition at the expense of their League One promotion rivals.

Parkinson's side now take an eight-day break before they return to league action, when they play host to Gillingham in front of the Sky Sports television cameras on Monday week.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, A Taylor, Wheater, Beevers, Wilson, Thorpe (Osede 76), Spearing, Vela, Ameobi (C Taylor 82), Clough, Madine (Proctor 85)
Subs Not Used: Turner, Buxton, Moxey, Anderson
Goals: Madine 44, Ameobi 46, Vela 84

Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Basham, O'Connell, Brown (Duffy 49), Freeman, Coutts, Scougall (Sharp 85), Fleck, Hussey, Lavery, Clarke
Subs Not Used: Moore, Done, Reed, Whiteman, Lafferty
Booked: Clarke, Lavery
Goals: Coutts 64, O'Connell 87

Referee: Lee Probert
Attendance: 7,027

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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