Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Crawley Town

  • January 02, 2021 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/7f67d

George Francomb scored the only goal as 10-man Bolton began 2021 with defeat in their first-ever league meeting with Crawley Town.

After a goalless first-half, Town opened the scoring shortly after the hour at the University of Bolton Stadium as Francomb finished an excellent one-touch move by firing low into the bottom corner beyond Matt Gilks.

Francomb had earlier hit a post for the visitors, while Eoin Doyle headed against the crossbar as Wanderers went in search of a late equaliser. But it was Crawley who took the points on another disappointing afternoon for Ian Evatt, who saw Reiss Greenidge dismissed in stoppage time for a second bookable offence.

After Tuesday's game against Morecambe was postponed following an outbreak of COVID-19 within the Shrimps squad, Wanderers went into the game a week removed from their 3-3 draw at Carlisle United.

Evatt made three changes from the side that started at Brunton Park as Greenidge, Harry Brockbank and Lloyd Isgrove came in at the expense of Ryan Delaney, Alex Baptiste and the suspended Peter Kioso.

Wanderers have been guilty of starting slowly in recent weeks but were very much on the front foot in the early exchanges, with Doyle firing over Glenn Morris' crossbar with less than a minute on the clock.

Archie Davies tried a speculative effort with a similar outcome at the other end on six minutes, moments before Ashley Nadesan dragged a shot well wide of the target after finding himself in a good position.

Morris was called into action for the first time three minutes later, with Isgrove forcing a save after Gethin Jones' cross from the left had evaded everybody inside the Crawley box.

Nathan Delfouneso worked his way inside, played a one-two with George Thomason, and curled narrowly over the bar from the next attack, while Nadesan was denied in a one-on-one situation by Gilks at the other end after he had escaped the attention of Ricardo Santos.

Crawley came close to breaking the deadlock midway through the half as Francomb rounded Gilks before seeing his effort from a narrow angle come back off the outside of the post.

Within 60 seconds of surviving that major scare, Wanderers were back on the attack and came close themselves as Jones' cutback was dinked just over the top by Antoni Sarcevic's first-time volley.

Gilks made an outstanding save to keep the game scoreless on the half-hour, reacting well to save with his legs after Jack Powell had turned a cross from Tom Nicholls goalwards.

Isgrove had been denied earlier in the game and almost broke the deadlock for a second time on 33 minutes, bringing Morris into a reaction save at his near post, shortly before Tom Dallison was relieved to see the ball go over his own crossbar after he had misjudged a cross from Sarcevic.

The final chance of the half fell the way of the visitors, with Sam Matthews sending a strike towards goal but Gilks made a routine save after Andrew Tutte had made a block to take the sting out of the attempt.

Despite entering the break without a goal, there were no changes for either side as the players returned for a second period which began with Doyle seeing a goalbound attempt blocked by the body of Tony Craig.

Crawley's first effort after the restart arrived with 55 minutes played, with Matthews thwarted by Gilks after Davies' initial surge towards goal had been halted by Isgrove.

Doyle and Nadesan both blazed over the bar as the clock ticked towards the hour, after which Crawley broke the deadlock with a moment of quality.

Some one-touch football from the visitors on the perimeter of the penalty area ended with Tom Nichols laying the ball off for Francomb, who had advanced into the box before sliding low past Gilks and into the far corner to make it 1-0.

Tutte blasted wide from distance as Bolton looked for an immediate response, while Doyle shot into the midriff of Jake Hessenthaler before seeing a follow-up blocked by Morris in the Crawley goal.

Wanderers were well on top at this stage and had numerous opportunities to pull level, with Doyle seeing a strike blocked before Thomason saw a rebound deflect agonisingly wide off the legs of the goalkeeper.

An overlapping run from Jones ended with him bringing another save out of Morris with 20 minutes remaining, before Brockbank was left frustrated by another save and Thomason drilled wide moments later.

Morris was finally beaten on 79 minutes as a lofted cross from Sarcevic found the head of Doyle, who could only turn around in disgust as he saw the ball bounce back off the bar and away to safety.

After Sarcevic had failed to find a way past Morris from the next attack, Wanderers finally looked like they would get the goal their play deserved only for Delfouneso to fire straight at the 'keeper from close range before Thomason somehow skied a loose ball high into the stands from the rebound.

Desperate appeals for a penalty were turned down when a cross from Isgrove looked to strike a hand inside the Crawley box, before late chances for Thomason and Tutte passed by without threatening the scoreline.

Greenidge was sent off in added time for smashing through Nicols, bringing a disappointing close to an afternoon which ended in defeat for Bolton.

Evatt and his players will now have 10 days to mull over the result, with their next game being a trip to Exeter City on January 12.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Greenidge, Santos, Brockbank, Jones, Thomason, Tutte, Isgrove, Sarcevic, Delfouneso, Doyle
Subs Not Used: Crellin, Taft, Delaney, Comley, Crawford, Darcy, Baptiste
Booked: Brockbank, Greenidge
Sent Off: Greenidge

Crawley Town: Morris, Davies, Craig, Tunnicliffe, Dallison-Lisbon, Francomb (Bulman 70), Powell, Hessenthaler, Matthews (Ashford 70), Nadesan (Sesay 87), Nichols
Subs Not Used: Nelson, McNerney, Frost, Galach
Goals: Francomb 61

Referee: Samuel Barrott

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