Bolton Wanderers 0-3 Sheffield United

  • August 25, 2018 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's unbeaten start to the Championship season came to a crashing halt, as they were beaten 3-0 by Sheffield United at the University of Bolton Stadium.

United, who had already come close on two separate occasions, broke the deadlock inside five minutes as Chris Basham's cutback was swept home by Mark Duffy from the edge of the box.

Kieron Freeman made it two midway through the half, as his low cross was left by Leon Clarke and allowed to roll into the bottom corner via the inside of Ben Alnwick's right-hand post.

Even at that early stage, the game looked over as a contest but the Blades added some shine to their trip across the Pennines when John Fleck turned home a ball from Enda Stevens with 17 minutes to play.

Knowing Sheffield United had gone seven days since their last outing, Bolton boss Phil Parkinson made five changes to the side that started against Birmingham City on Wednesday evening - as Jonathan Grounds, Josh Vela, Luke Murphy, Will Buckley and Sammy Ameobi came in at the expense of Andrew Taylor, Erhun Oztumer, Garu O'Neil, Craig Noone and Yanic Wildschut.

Whether the number of changes affected the fluidity of his players is a topic for debate, but Wanderers were poor in the early stages and were thankful to David Wheater inside the opening 30 seconds, as he put his body on the line to block a goalbound effort from Stevens.

United came even closer from their next attack, with Fleck seeing a shot turned onto the crossbar by Alnwick as he latched on to a clever corner from Oliver Norwood.

It would be a case of third time lucky for the visitors though, who went ahead with less than five minutes played, as Basham's cutback to the edge of the box was turned home by Duffy.

Bolton took a while to get going, with a half-hearted penalty appeal from Buckley the best they had up until the quarter-hour, while Ameobi had their first shooting chance on 17 minutes with a long-range strike that was comfortably held by Dean Henderson.

Basham, up against his former club, volleyed just wide moments later, but Sheffield United didn't have to wait too much longer for their second goal - with Freeman getting the rub of the green with a low cross that somehow managed to squirm through a number of defenders and beyond a rooted Alnwick.

It was almost 3-0 just after the half-hour, with Fleck turning just inside the Wanderers half and advancing to the penalty area before sending a lofted effort onto the roof of the net.

Buckley forced a save out of Henderson on 34 minutes, with his near-post header being turned behind for a corner, shortly before Wheater had a goalbound shot scrambled clear as the hosts went in behind at the break.

There was one change as the players came back out for the start of the second half, with United replacing Clarke with David McGoldrick in attack.

McGoldrick is a name Wanderers fans have heard many times in the past, with his goalscoring exploits felt at Ipswich Town down the years, and his introduction was felt within three minutes of the restart as his stunning volley from 30 yards was tipped over the bar by a full-stretch Alnwick.

Ameobi tried his luck from range on 55 minutes, only to see his shot deflect behind, moments before Buckley had appeals for a penalty turned down for the second time - with referee Andrew Madley showing a yellow card for simulation.

It would be Buckley's last act, as he and Murphy were replaced by Wildschut and Oztumer just after the hour.

Freeman and Josh Magennis saw attempts fly off-target at either end as the game entered the final 20 minutes, moments before United added a third as a low cross from Stevens was tapped home from close range by Fleck.

Billy Sharp would have been frustrated not to have been amongst the scorers and he came close to correcting stat 60 seconds later, breaking clear of Wheater before seeing his shot roll just wide of the far post.

Clayton Donaldson was brought on for the latter stages as Bolton looked to pull at least one goal back but, aside from a hopeful attempt from Ameobi, there was to be no further action as Parkinson's side fell to a first league defeat of the campaign.

Results elsewhere mean Wanderers remain 3rd in the Championship table, with next Saturday's trip to Preston North End their final action before the upcoming international break.

Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick, Grounds, Beevers, Wheater, Olkowski, Lowe, Murphy (Oztumer 62), Vela, Buckley (Wildschut 62), Ameobi, Magennis (Donaldson 81)
Subs Not Used: Matthews, Taylor, Wilson, J Williams
Booked: Vela, Buckley

Sheffield United: Henderson, Basham, Egan, O'Connell, Freeman, Norwood, Fleck, Stevens, Duffy (Stearman 69), Sharp (Woodburn 86), Clarke (McGoldrick 45)
Subs Not Used: Moore, Lundstram, Leonard, Lafferty
Booked: Freeman
Goals: Duffy 5, Freeman 22, Fleck 73

Referee: Andrew Madley
Attendance: 14,848

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 Rochdale 34 36
20 AFC Wimbledon 35 35
21 Tranmere Rovers 34 32
22 Southend United 35 19
23 Bolton Wanderers 34 14
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2018/19 Player of the Year?
34.62% Gary O'Neil
19.38% David Wheater
18.92% Pawel Olkowski
9.27% Joe Williams
5.33% Jason Lowe
4.13% Sammy Ameobi
2.85% Josh Magennis
2.75% Mark Beevers
1.19% Jack Hobbs
1.01% Ben Alnwick
0.28% Andrew Taylor
0.28% Craig Noone