Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Millwall

  • March 09, 2019 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's faint hopes of Championship survival were given a shot in the arm, as they picked up a 2-1 victory over Millwall at the University of Bolton Stadium.

With off-field issues dominating headlines once again in the week leading up to the game, Wanderers put all that to one side and emerged with all three points on an afternoon where players proved they were up for the fight, regardless of whether they were in receipt of February's wages or not.

After a scoreless first-half, the hosts broke the deadlock within three minutes of the restart as Pawel Olkowski cut in onto his left foot before bending a shot into the bottom corner of Jordan Archer's net.

Gary O'Neil added a second on the hour, bursting forward from halfway and firing low beyond Archer, and that proved to be enough for the Trotters, despite a late consolation from Lee Gregory setting up a tense finish.

After their dismissals in defeat at Swansea City last time out, Craig Noone and David Wheater were amongst four changes to the Wanderers line-up - Clayton Donaldson and Luca Connell also missing out - as Andrew Taylor, Jack Hobbs, Will Buckley and Joe Williams all returned to the side.

Millwall began the brighter of the two sides, with Jed Wallace forcing Buckley into a clearance from inside his own six-yard box, but that was the only piece of goalmouth activity inside the opening 20 minutes as the teams cancelled each other out in midfield.

Buckley was the first to have an attempt for the home side, with his blocked strike bringing some half-hearted handball appeals from the stands.

The first glaring chance came just before the half-hour, with Shane Ferguson's corner for Millwall picking out an unmarked Tom Elliott. Despite getting a firm connection to his header, Elliott's effort flew harmlessly over Remi Matthews' crossbar.

Elliott was involved again moments later, as he was denied an almost certain goal by the intervention of Hobbs, who got back to head a looping ball from Gregory behind for a corner.

Olkowski collected the ball on halfway before embarking upon a run forward on 37 minutes. With the crowd urging him to shoot, the Poland international obliged from 20 yards with a shot that flashed a yard wide of Archer's near post.

Sammy Ameobi dragged a left-footed strike wide shortly afterwards, while the final action of the half saw a corner from O'Neil bounce across the face of goal with Callum Connolly just unable to provide the telling touch.

There were no changes as the players returned for the second half, which began in the best possible way for Bolton as they broke the deadlock inside three minutes of the restart.

Picked out by a superb pass from Connolly, Olkowski stepped inside the challenge of Jake Cooper and rolled a left-footed shot into the far corner to make it 1-0.

It should have been 2-0 five minutes later but Buckley couldn't get a shot on target from just inside the box after Josh Magennis had knocked down a free-kick from O'Neil.

Millwall then came close to an equaliser as a corner from Ferguson was headed goalwards by Gregory. With Matthews rooted to the spot, the ball struck the body of an unaware Williams before being collected by the Wanderers goalkeeper.

It proved to be a pivotal moment in the game as, just two minutes later, the hosts doubled their advantage.

A clearance from Williams found O'Neil in acres of space just inside the Lions half of the pitch. With Mahlon Romeo tracking back, O'Neil stepped inside then out before drilling low across Archer and into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.

Bolton then had a series of chances to make it three but failed in their attempts, with Ameobi, Williams and Buckley all wasting chances to put the result beyond doubt.

Olkowski, with a goal already to his name, them came close to getting his second. In similar fashion to O'Neil's earlier strike, the Polish full-back turned away from Ferguson before seeing a goalbound effort turned away at the near post by Archer.

Magennis headed over from O'Neil's resulting corner, shortly before Elliott headed wide at the other end after he had got on the end of a deflected cross from Ferguson.

Ben Marshall shot wide for Millwall with 10 minutes remaining, while Wallace forced Matthews into a save with a difficult bouncing drive from the edge of the area.

The visitors were back in the game on 87 minutes, though, with a low cross from Wallace being turned home by Gregory from close range for 2-1.

Elliott headed onto the roof of the Wanderers net from the next attack, before stoppage-time attempts from Gregory and Ben Thompson both failed to find a way past Matthews as the hosts held on to claim all three points.

Having began the weekend seven points from safety, Bolton have reduced that gap to five. With 10 games to play, Phil Parkinson's side remain in 23rd position on 29 points. Rotherham United occupy the final relegation place on 33 points, while Millwall are a point and a place clear of the drop-zone following their defeat in Lancashire.

Bolton Wanderers: Matthews, Taylor, Beevers, Hobbs, Olkowski, Buckley (Dyer 82), Connolly, J Williams (Wilson 86), O'Neil, Ameobi, Magennis
Subs Not Used: B Williams, Little, Oztumer, Donaldson, Connell
Goals: Olkowski 48, O'Neil 60

Millwall: Archer, Romeo, Pearce, Cooper, Meredith (Marshall 61), Ferguson, Thompson, Williams (Morison 69), Wallace, Gregory, Elliott
Subs Not Used: Martin, Hutchinson, Tunnicliffe, O'Brien, Leonard
Booked: Williams, Elliott, Ferguson
Goals: Gregory 87

Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 13,035

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
11 Port Vale 14 19
12 Harrogate Town 14 19
13 Bolton Wanderers 14 19
14 Morecambe 14 19
15 Crawley Town 14 18
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