Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Northampton Town

  • March 18, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton were rescued by a stoppage-time offside flag, as they came from behind to beat Northampton Town 2-1 at Macron Stadium.

Trailing to Michael Smith's 57th minute opener, Wanderers turned the game in their favour courtesy of an Adam Le Fondre penalty and, shortly afterwards, Filipe Morais' first goal for the club.

Northampton thought they had equalised with the final kick of the game, as John-Joe O'Toole bundled home a cross from Matt Taylor, but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for offside, as three sides of the Macron breathed a collective sigh of relief.

After securing back-to-back away victories over the course of the last seven days, Phil Parkinson opted to stick with the same team for the visit of the Cobblers, with the only change to the matchday squad seeing the fit-again Jay Spearing take the place of Liam Trotter on the substitutes' bench.

Both sides struggled to get to grips with a greasy surface and it took until the 10th minute for the first effort to arrive, with Darren Pratley curling an effort wide from the edge of the box after bursting forward from midfield.

The first yellow card of the game arrived shortly afterwards, with Northampton's Marc Richards having his name taken by referee Richard Clark for a lunge on Derik Osede.

The visitors came close to breaking the deadlock on 20 minutes, as a corner from Taylor was headed towards goal by Zander Diamond. Ben Alnwick was stuck to his line and was relieved to see the ball come back off the crossbar before being cleared to safety by Osede.

Gary Madine's first effort of the afternoon came shortly before the half-hour, but his long-range strike was comfortable for Adam Smith, moments before Wanderers were thankful to some last-ditch defending from David Wheater, as he slid in to block a goalbound effort from Michael Smith, who had pounced after an initial attempt from Richards had been charged down by Mark Beevers.

Bolton then saw two separate appeals for penalties turned down as Pratley went to ground inside the Northampton box, before the officials gave a decision against Madine after he appeared to have been forced to the ground under the challenge of two defenders.

O'Toole dragged a shot wide as the clock ticked down on the half, but not before Wanderers were thwarted by former player Taylor, who cleared off the line from a Morais corner - ensuring the sides went in goalless at the break.

There were no changes to either side as the players emerged for the start of the second period, which began with Northampton putting the ball in the Bolton net, but only long after the referee had blown for a foul on goalkeeper Alnwick.

Wanderers responded well, with Pratley volleying into the stands after latching on to a knockdown from Beevers, moments before Wheater was denied by Adam Smith as he poked a free-kick from Morais goalwards.

Then, on 57 minutes, Northampton went ahead with their first shot on target. After Dervite had conceded a free-kick on the left flank, Taylor's cross to the far post was slotted home by Michael Smith.

Not too downhearted by falling behind, Wanderers went in search of an immediate equaliser and it almost arrived when Dervite headed just over the top from a Morais corner on the hour.

Bolton then embarked on the move of the game. A neat one-two just inside the Northampton half saw Madine put Le Fondre clean through on goal. After getting the better of the last defender, his shot looked destined for the net, only to be turned behind by an outstretched glove of Adam Smith.

The hosts continued to press for that elusive leveller but continued to be denied, with Pratley twice seeing efforts charged down, Wheater having a header saved by Adam Smith, before the Northampton 'keeper continued his heroics by keeping out a close-range attempt from Madine.

He was beaten with 15 minutes to play, however, as Wanderers were awarded a penalty for a handball against Taylor.

Le Fondre took responsibility for the spot-kick and smashed his strike down the middle of the goal, with the ripple of the net bringing Macron Stadium to its feet.

Bolton were well in the ascendancy at this stage and would have gone ahead but for an outstanding save by Adam Smith, as he clawed a looping header from Pratley up and over the crossbar.

Spearing was introduced as a substitute for Osede with little over 10 minutes remaining and Wanderers were ahead three minutes later, as a low cross from Andrew Taylor was drilled home by man-of-the-moment Morais - for his first goal since joining from Bradford City in February.

Northampton made two late changes in an attempt to get back on level terms, including one Keshi Anderson, who spent the first half of the season on loan at Bolton, and the Cobblers thought they had earned a point in the final seconds of five added minutes for stoppages.

Taylor's deep cross to the far post was tucked into the net by O'Toole, sparking wild celebrations amongst the visiting fans behind the goal. The home supporters were on their feet just as fast, however, after spotting an offside flag from the assistant referee and subsequent final whistle from the man in charge.

However fortunate they may have been, Wanderers were ultimately good value for their third victory in the space of a week and move into the automatic promotion places for the first time since January - still with a game in hand on 3rd-placed Fleetwood Town.

That game arrives this coming Tuesday, when Parkinson takes his side to Oxford United, who ran out 2-1 winners over Scunthorpe United on Saturday afternoon.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Beevers, Wheater, Dervite, A Taylor, Osede (Spearing 79), Pratley, Morais, Vela, Le Fondre, Madine
Subs Not Used: Howard, Moxey, Karacan, Long, Clayton, Henry
Goals: Le Fondre 75(pen), Morais 82

Northampton Town: A Smith, Phillips (Moloney 87), Diamond, Nyatanga, Buchanan, Williams, Taylor, O'Toole, McCourt (P Anderson 76), Richards, M Smith (K Anderson 88)
Subs Not Used: Cornell, Wylde, Beautyman, McDonald
Booked: Richards, Buchanan
Goals: Smith 57

Referee: Richard Clark
Attendance: 14,255

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
2 Peterborough United 4 9
3 Portsmouth 4 8
4 Bolton Wanderers 4 8
5 Exeter City 4 7
6 Charlton Athletic 4 7
View Full Standings >>


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