Bolton Wanderers 1-1 Bristol Rovers

  • February 28, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton failed to take advantage of a game in hand at the top of the League One table, after being held to a 1-1 draw by Bristol Rovers.

Wanderers entered the game knowing victory would move them level on points with 2nd-placed Scunthorpe United in the race for automatic promotion and they got off to the perfect start, with Josh Vela firing home inside seven minutes.

Phil Parkinson's side were largely second best from that point on and it came as little surprise when Rovers levelled through Byron Moore with 15 minutes to play.

Chris Long was sent off in the closing stages after dissent aimed towards the referee's assistant earned him a second yellow card, meaning he will miss the weekend visit of AFC Wimbledon.

Wanderers, who were beaten 2-0 at Sheffield United in their last outing, took to the field with four changes to the side that started at Bramall Lane. Dean Moxey, Adam Le Fondre and Conor Wilkinson all dropped to the bench, while Tom Thorpe missed out through injury. Replacing them were the fit-again Andrew Taylor, debutant Reece Wabara, Jay Spearing and Long.

The hosts got off to the best possible start, going ahead with just seven minutes on the clock. Neat play down the right-hand side from Long and Filipe Morais ended with the ball at the feet of Vela, who kept his composure to slot past a stranded Joe Lumley.

Wanderers were on the attack again moments later, but Lumley was this time equal to a strike from Morais, before the same player headed wide when presented with another chance from the next attack.

Rovers then began to enjoy large spells of possession, although they failed to capitalise when chances were presented to them from numerous corner kicks.

Mark Howard was shaky on his first appearance at the Macron since November and he almost gifted the visitors an equaliser midway through the half. With the ball bouncing outside his box, the goalkeeper was undecided on whether to clear the danger or allow it to fall into his penalty area. Instead, he was robbed by Ellis Harrison, but, with an empty goal at his mercy, the forward rolled his shot wide from an acute angle.

Rovers had appeals for a penalty turned down when Stuart Sinclair's strike struck the midriff of Taylor inside the Wanderers box, moments before a break at the other end resulted in Long shooting into the side netting - with a large portion of the Nat Lofthouse Stand thinking the ball had snuck in at the near post.

A heavy collision involving Harrison and Spearing caused play to stop 10 minutes before the break, eventually causing the former to be replaced after he failed to respond to treatment. Spearing rejoined the action but, with the hosts leading 1-0 at the interval, failed to return for the start of the second period, with Liam Trotter on in his place.

With the players back out on the pitch, Bristol Rovers raced out of the blocks and were unfortunate not to find themselves on level terms inside 60 seconds of the restart, as a cross-cum-shot from Luke James flashed across the face of the Bolton goal.

The visitors came even closer from their next attack, with James once again involved, only to see his goalbound effort cleared off the line by Wheater.

After a lull in play, it wasn't until after the hour when the ball was back in the opposition's final third. This arrived with Bolton winning a free-kick on the edge of the Rovers box, from which James Henry fired narrowly over Lumley's crossbar.

Wabara's evening came to an end on 71 minutes, with Viv Solomon-Otabor taking his place, and Wanderers conceded down their right-flank within four minutes of that change. After racing past Derik Osede, Billy Bodin cut the ball back across the six-yard box, leaving Moore with the simple task of looping the ball past Howard from close range to bring the scores level at 1-1.

Then, with 80 minutes gone, Rovers came close to taking the lead but, with Howard beaten, James struck a post, before Bodin shot wide from the rebound.

Bolton introduced Le Fondre for the latter stages as they went in search of a late winner, but their task was made all the more difficult in the final minute of normal time when Long was dismissed - being shown a second yellow card for dissent towards the assistant referee, after he had conceded a cheap free-kick.

Despite Rovers' numerical advantage inside four added minutes for stoppages, there were to be no further chances for either side as they played out a 1-1 draw.

The result means Bolton remain 4th in League One, two points shy of both Fleetwood Town and Scunthorpe United above them, ahead of Saturday's home clash against AFC Wimbledon.

Bolton Wanderers: Howard, A Taylor, Beevers, Wheater, Wabara (Solomon-Otabor 71), Osede, Spearing (Trotter 46), Morais, Henry (Le Fondre 82), Vela, Long
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Moxey, Dervite, Wilkinson
Booked: Vela, Long, Osede
Sent Off: Long
Goals: Vela 7

Bristol Rovers: Lumley, Leadbitter, Lockyer, Sweeney, J Clarke, Lines, O Clarke, Bodin, Sinclair, Montano (Moore 73), Harrison (James 38)
Subs Not Used: Mildenhall, Mansell, Harris, Gaffney, Burn
Booked: O Clarke
Goals: Moore 75

Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 13,383

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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