Bolton Wanderers 2-3 Leeds United

  • August 06, 2017 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton were made to rue a poor first-half display, as they marked their return to the Championship with a 3-2 defeat at home to Leeds United.

Back in the division after a season in League One, Wanderers got off to the worst start imaginable, falling behind inside seven minutes as Kalvin Phillips reacted to a quickly-taken corner to fire home from just inside the box.

Leeds doubled their advantage on the half-hour, as Kemar Roofe's cross from the right was headed back across goal by Ezgjan Alioski and Chris Wood nodded past Mark Howard via the underside of the crossbar.

Gary Madine got the hosts back in it on 39 minutes, heading home a Josh Vela corner from almost on the goalline, but United restored their two-goal cushion less than three minutes later as Wood beat the offside trap before laying the ball off to Phillips, who slotted into the empty net.

Bolton were much better value after the break and were awarded a penalty for a foul on Madine midway through the half, from which Adam Le Fondre duly converted, but, despite their best efforts, they couldn't find that elusive equaliser and began the campaign with defeat.

After a summer of new faces at Macron Stadium, manager Phil Parkinson made just two changes to the side that ended the previous campaign against Peterborough United - with recent arrivals Stephen Darby and Josh Cullen handed debuts by taking the places of Jay Spearing, who left the club at the end of his contract in June, and the injured Filipe Morais.

As previously noted, Bolton got off to the worst possible start, falling behind inside seven minutes as a quickly-taken corner from Pablo Hernandez caught them off-guard and Phillips stole in ahead of Jem Karacan to fire into the corner from the edge of the Wanderers box.

Despite seeing plenty of possession, the hosts struggled to make an impact on the game until the 18th minute when a tame effort from Le Fondre was comfortable gathering for Leeds goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald.

Mark Beevers saw a goalbound header cleared off the line as the clock reached the midway point of the half, before the visitors doubled their advantage of the half-hour by taking advantage of some slack Bolton defending.

After making strides down the right-flank, Roofe's cross to the far post was headed back across goal by Alioski to Wood, who had the simple task of nodding past Howard from close-range to put the visitors in control.

That sparked a resurgence in Bolton, who reduced the deficit with six minutes of the half remaining, as Madine rose highest to head home a corner from Vela.

Leeds restored their two-goal advantage within three minutes, however, as Wood broke the offside trap to receive a through-ball from Hernandez before squaring to Phillips, who had the unenviable task of slotting into an empty net.

Madine came agonisingly close to his second of the afternoon in the closing stages of the half, but his volley from 25 yards stuck the side netting as Bolton went in trailing 3-1 at the interval.

There were no changes to either side as the players emerged for the start of the second period, in which Leeds created the first attack that resulted in Alioski forcing Howard into a low save with his feet.

The first substitution came on 53 minutes as David Wheater, who had failed to train for much of the week, fell victim to an ongoing back complaint and was replaced by the debuting Reece Burke, following his arrival on loan from West Ham United.

Will Buckley then came on in place of Karacan, moments before Wanderers were awarded a penalty as Madine was inexplicably having his shirt pulled over his head by Conor Shaughnessy.

Le Fondre took responsibility for the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake, firing straight down the centre to beat Wiedwald and bring the score back to 2-3.

Hernandez rattled the crossbar as Leeds went back on the attack from the kick-off, shortly before a goalbound strike from Vela was charged down by a United defender.

Cullen sliced wide from the edge of the box as Bolton continued to look for a way to get themselves back on level terms, before Parkinson threw caution to the wind by bringing Adam Armstrong on for Darby.

Four minutes of time were added for stoppages at the end of the game, but Wanderers couldn't find a way through and were ultimately beaten on their return to the second-tier.

In fact, the major talking point of that added time came in the final moments, with Vela being forced off on a stretcher after taking a heavy blow to the ankle.

He will almost certainly miss the Trotters' next outing, which comes on Wednesday evening when they travel to Crewe Alexandra in the first-round of the Carabao Cup.

Bolton Wanderers: Howard, A Taylor, Beevers, Wheater (Burke 53), Dervite, Darby (Armstrong 84), Vela, Cullen, Karacan (Buckley 64), Le Fondre, Madine
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Robinson, Osede, Wilbraham
Booked: Buckley
Goals: Madine 39, Le Fondre 67(pen)

Leeds United: Wiedwald, Ayling, Pennington (Shaughnessy 64), Cooper, Berardi (Anita 38), O'Kane, Phillips, Roofe, Hernandez, Alioski (Sacko 85), Wood
Subs Not Used: Green, Saiz Alonso, Klich, Ekuban
Goals: Phillips 7,42, Wood 30

Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 19,857

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
11 Ipswich Town 20 27
12 Cheltenham Town 19 27
13 Bolton Wanderers 20 26
14 Accrington Stanley 19 24
15 Charlton Athletic 20 23
View Full Standings >>


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