Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Forest Green Rovers

  • September 12, 2020 | By Chris Mann
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Ian Evatt became the first Bolton boss to lose his opening three games since 1910, as Wanderers began their League Two campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Forest Green Rovers.

Despite losses in Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy ties against Bradford City and Crewe Alexandra, Evatt retained a positive mindset going into the first game of the league season but the Trotters were punished for a lack of penetration by Carl Winchester's strike five minutes after the break.

Pouncing on a clearance from a poor free-kick, Winchester's first-time effort from 25 yards found a way through a body of players inside the box before finding the net via the inside of Billy Crellin's left-hand post.

Having made four changes for the EFL Trophy defeat to Crewe Alexandra in midweek, Ian Evatt reverted back to the side that started against Bradford City last Saturday with one additional alteration - as Reiss Greenidge made his debut at the back at the expense of George Taft.

A lot of expectation has been placed on the shoulders of both Eoin Doyle and new captain Antoni Sarcevic and Wanderers should have taken an early lead, only for the duo to get in each other's way before Doyle dragged a shot wide of goal when finding himself clean through.

Both sides were wasteful in possession and with chances at a premium, it wasn't until the 21st minute that another opportunity arrived as Aaron Collins fired wide for Forest Green after Nicky Cadden's free-kick was only partially cleared by Alex Baptiste.

Ebrima Adams and Kane Wilson both failed to test Crellin as the clock ticked towards the half-hour, although the Trotters goalkeeper was required to make a routine stop from a Carl Winchester free-kick moments later.

At the other end, Luke McGee made his first meaningful save of the afternoon on 36 minutes after a left-sided cross from Nathan Delfouneso broke kindly for Sarcevic, whose effort was turned behind by the legs of the Rovers stopper.

Greenidge headed wide from the resulting corner but it was the visitors who ended the half on top, with Adams and Collins both missing the target from distance as they went for the spectacular.

An even first-half ended with neither side finding the net, as they went in at the break level at 0-0.

That all changed within five minutes of the restart, however, as Greenidge went into the book for a poor challenge on Adams. From the resulting free-kick, a headed clearance fell kindly for Winchester 25 yards from goal and his first-time effort found a way through a pack of players before finding the net via the inside of a post to make it 1-0 to the visitors.

Jamille Matt had the chance to double the advantage just three minutes later, latching on to a pass from Kane Wilson and closing down on goal, only for Baptiste to make a last-ditch challenge.

Ricardo Santos, Tom White and Rovers' Adams all received treatment for injuries as the watch ticked beyond the hour, after which Wanderers' first chance of the half fell at the feet of Delfouneso, whose strike was charged down by a defender.

The introduction of Andrew Tutte and Bright Amoateng with 19 minutes to play prompted a tactical shuffle from Evatt, who switched his players into a 4-3-3 formation, and it almost paid instant dividends as Ali Crawford - himself an earlier substitute for Brandon Comley - saw a bending shot from 25 yards parried away by a full-stretch McGee.

Appeals for a penalty were turned down by referee Sebastian Stockbridge as Doyle looked to claim a handball inside the Forest Green box, with luck going against the hosts one more time on 88 minutes as Santos headed wide from close range as he got on the end of a corner from Crawford.

There was to be one final chance inside six added minutes for stoppages, but Liam Gordon couldn't quite stretch enough to direct a cross into the net as the ball went high in the air and away to safety.

The final whistle signalled the end of a disappointing afternoon for Wanderers, who will be looking to improve drastically if they are to convince supporters of their promotion credentials this season.

Bolton Wanderers: Crellin, Gordon, Greenidge (Amoateng 71), Baptiste, Santos, Jones, Sarcevic, White (Tutte 71), Comley (Crawford 56), Doyle, Delfouneso
Subs Not Used: Alexander, Taft, Hickman, Mascoll
Booked: Comley, Greenidge, Baptiste

Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Godwin-Malife, Moore-Taylor, Kitching, Wilson, Winchester, Adams, Sweeney, Cadden, Collins (Wagstaff 82), Matt (McCoulsky 86)
Subs Not Used: Thomas, Bernard, Stokes, Stevens, Allen
Booked: Kitching
Goals: Winchester 50

Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
4 Tranmere Rovers 31 54
5 Morecambe 32 52
6 Bolton Wanderers 32 50
7 Salford City 31 49
8 Newport County 31 48
View Full Standings >>


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