Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Preston North End

  • February 09, 2019 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's alarming slump towards relegation continued on Saturday, as Preston North End ran out 2-1 winners at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Goals in each half from Alan Browne and Tom Barkhuizen gave the Lilywhites a routine three points, with a late consolation from Clayton Donaldson - his first league goal since January 2018 - providing nothing more than consolation for Phil Parkinson's side.

Wanderers' latest defeat - their fifth in their last six outings - leaves them four points adrift of Championship safety with a worse goal difference than rivals Rotherham United.

With injuries beginning to mount for the Trotters, Parkinson made four changes to the side that started in defeat at Sheffield United last Saturday, with Marc Wilson, Josh Magennis, Jonathan Grounds and Craig Noone in at the expense of Donaldson, Jack Hobbs, Andrew Taylor and Josh Vela.

The home side began brightly in this Lancashire derby, with Magennis having the first attempt on goal inside four minutes with a header from a Gary O'Neil cross forcing Declan Rudd into action.

Magennis, determined to prove his worth, came close again two minutes later, collecting possession from Luca Connell before firing narrowly wide from 25 yards.

Browne lashed a half-volley wide with Preston's first attempt on eight minutes, moments before Barkhuizen capitalised on a poor headed clearance from David Wheater before drilling narrowly wide of Remi Matthews' far post.

Wanderers were forced into a change midway through the half as Connell went down clutching the back of his leg, with Vela brought on in place of the highly-rated teenager.

Barkhuizen was guilty of another miss once play had resumed - collecting the ball from Sean Maguire before surging into the final third and dragging a shot wide rather than catching out Matthews at his near post.

Wilson headed over from an O'Neil corner for Bolton on the half-hour, shortly before he was the hero at the other end with a goalline clearance that kept the game scoreless.

The deadlock was broken on 40 minutes, however, as a one-two between Barkhuizen and Browne saw the former escape the attention of Grounds. With the angle narrowing inside the box, Barkhuizen cut the ball back for Browne, who stroked the ball across Matthews and into the bottom corner for 1-0 to Preston.

Maguire should have doubled that advantage before the break, stepping inside weak challenges from both Wilson and David Wheater before seeing his toe-poke turned behind by the outstretched leg of Matthews.

Browne headed wide from Paul Gallagher's resulting corner, as North End were made to settle for a one-goal advantage going into the interval.

There were no changes from either manager as the players returned for the second half, which began on a quiet note with both teams enjoying spells of possession in the middle of the field.

In fact, it wasn't until the 56th minute that a chance arrived as Browne attempted a half-volley which rolled narrowly wide of Matthews' target. A corner was given, from which Browne powered a header just wide from Gallagher's delivery.

Preston almost doubled their lead midway through the half. With Wheater out of position, Brad Potts found space in behind and was picked out by Browne. With only Matthews left to beat, his shot was turned on to the post by the leg of the Trotters goalkeeper.

The game was over as a contest with eight minutes remaining, however, as Wilson surrendered possession on half-way, allowing Maguire to set Barkhuizen off in the clear. With Matthews the last man to beat, the Preston forward slid the ball into the corner to make it 2-0 to the visitors.

Substitute Lukas Nmecha was denied a third as Matthews saved with his feet again in the closing stages, but there was to be a change to the scoreline as the game entered four minutes of added time.

Ameobi's cross from the right-hand side was headed back across goal by Callum Connolly, where Donaldson was in position to tap in from close range and set up a tense finale.

There was to be one last chance and it did fall the way of the hosts, with another cross Ameobi causing panic in the North End defence. Connolly recycled possssion and put it back into the box, where a header from Magennis was superbly tipped over the bar by Rudd to secure all three points for the away side.

Defeat means Bolton remain 23rd in the Championship table with 15 games left to play. They return to action on Tuesday night, when they face Birmingham City at St Andrew's.

Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Grounds (Donaldson 62), Wilson, Wheater, Noone (Pritchard 77), Connolly, O'Neil, Connell (Vela 23), Lowe, Ameobi, Magennis
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Buckley, Olkowski, Dyer
Booked: Magennis, Vela
Goals: Donaldson 90

Preston North End: Rudd, Fisher, Storey, Davies, Hughes, Pearson (Ledson 87), Barkhuizen, Browne (Johnson 90), Potts, Gallagher (Nmecha 77), Maguire
Subs Not Used: Crowe, Earl, Clarke, Stockley
Goals: Browne 40, Barkhuizen 82

Referee: Andrew Madley
Attendance: 17,381

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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