Bolton Wanderers 1-1 AFC Wimbledon

  • March 04, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's hopes of automatic promotion took a serious blow, after they were held to a 1-1 draw by AFC Wimbledon at Macron Stadium.

Since dropping out of the top-two in January, Wanderers have held solace that they could make up the points deficit with games in hand on their promotion rivals.

They now trail second-placed Fleetwood Town by four points, however, with just one game in hand remaining, after a header from Tom Elliott shortly before half-time cancelled out an earlier opener from Gary Madine.

Wanderers were second best in terms of possession but had the greater chances to secure the victory. They ultimately failed to break through the Dons defence, as they were made to settle for a point.

With the midweek draw with Bristol Rovers still fresh in the memory, Phil Parkinson made the uncharacteristic approach of making five changes to his starting line-up, as the injured Jay Spearing and suspended Chris Long missed out, while Mark Howard, Reece Wabara and James Henry all dropped to the substitutes' bench.

Starting in their place were Ben Alnwick, Gary Madine, Tom Thorpe, Adam Le Fondre and Dorian Dervite, who appeared from the off for the first time this season.

Statistics show Bolton have scored more goals than any other League One side in the opening 30 minutes of matches (22), and they came close to breaking the deadlock inside three minutes at the Macron, but Wimbledon goalkeeper James Shea somehow got down to parry away a goalbound header from an unmarked David Wheater, who had stayed forward following a corner.

The visitors created their first opportunity on 11 minutes, but Jonathan Meades couldn't keep his header down from a  George Francomb cross, shortly before Wanderers went ahead.

Filipe Morais' corner was placed expertly into the Wimbledon six-yard box and Madine rose above his marker to head past Shea for his ninth of the campaign, moving him level with Zach Clough at the top of the goalscoring chart.

Dominic Poleon dragged an effort wide as the Dons looked to find a way back into the game, before he came even closer on the half-hour, turning and shooting on the half-volley only to be denied by Alnwick at point-blank range.

Elliott was thwarted by a last-ditch challenge from David Wheater 10 minutes before the break, but the Wimbledon forward, back on the field following treatment for an injury, found the net moments later, rising high to meet a cross from Francomb and head the ball past Alnwick to bring the score level at 1-1.

That was how it remained going into the interval, after which teams from both sides emerged for the start of the second period with no changes to personnel.

Just as they did the first-half, Bolton began the second on top and were unfortunate not to take the lead for a second time, as a free-kick from Morais was tipped on to the crossbar by Shea before being cleared to safety.

Thorpe dragged wide and Le Fondre shot straight at Shea as Wanderers looked to establish dominance on the game, but Wimbledon were a threat on the break and would have been in the clear had it not been for a well-timed challenge by Dervite on Poleon.

Bolton made their first and only change midway through the half, introducing Henry in place of Thorpe, in a switch which saw him take up a place on the right-hand side and allowed Morais to move into a more central role.

Indeed, Morais was granted license to be more creative and brought a diving save out of Shea after cutting in from the left and letting fly with his right boot.

Madine and Le Fondre both shot wide as the clock ticked into the final 20 minutes, while the Dons forced Alnwick into a save when Meades stole in unopposed behind Dervite at the other end.

Bolton then had a glorious chance to win the game - Henry's smart run down the right ended with him crossing for Madine. Showing neat control, the Wanderers forward laid the ball off for Morais, who sold a dummy to his marker, before firing over the crossbar with only Shea left to beat.

Henry was next to find the stands, shooting wide after being teed up by Vela, as pockets of frustrated supporters booed off the home side at the end, as they were made to settle for a point in a 1-1 draw.

The result leaves Bolton in 4th position in League One, one shy of Scunthorpe with a game in hand, and four behind second-placed Fleetwood, also with a game in hand.

Parkinson's side return to action next Saturday, with a six-pointer on the horizon at Highbury Stadium. Their opponents - Fleetwood Town.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Beevers, Wheater, Dervite, A Taylor, Thorpe (Henry 64), Osede, Morais, Vela, Le Fondre, Madine
Subs Not Used: Howard, Moxey, Solomon-Otabor, Clayton, Wabara, Wilkinson
Goals: Madine 15

AFC Wimbledon: Shea, Charles, Robinson, Bulman, Francomb, Nightingale, Reeves, Soares, Meades (Kelly 87), Poleon (Taylor 71), Elliott (Barnett 86)
Subs Not Used: McDonnell, Parrett, Fitzpatrick, Robertson
Booked: Soares
Goals: Elliott 39

Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 13,599

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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