Tranmere Rovers 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • January 23, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Ian Evatt was shown a red card by referee Neil Hair for his post-match protestations following Bolton's 2-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers.

Goals in each half from Danny Lloyd and James Vaughan (pen) gave Rovers victory at Prenton Park, despite a later consolation from Antoni Sarcevic, but the overwhelming talking point surrounded the 75th-minute dismissal of Ryan Delaney.

Just moments after Emmanuel Monthe, who had already been booked, remained on the field following an apparent professional foul on Sarcevic - which went unpunished by Hair - Delaney was given his marching orders after a stray arm in the face of Vaughan earned him a second yellow card.

Evatt, already frustrated at the decision to award a penalty against Delaney earlier in the game, made his precence felt to the officials following the full-time whistle. After his initial confrontations earned him a booking, a continuation of dissent left Hair with little option but to brandish a red which will likely see the Trotters boss fined by The Football Association in the coming days.

Having drawn at home to Cheltenham Town last time out, Evatt made two changes to the Bolton side as Ali Crawford and Andrew Tutte were recalled to the midfield ahead of George Thomason and the injured Kieran Lee.

Wanderers went into the game with a record of conceding seven goals inside the opening 15 minutes of league matches so far this season - a total only slightly below both Stevenage (8) and Grimsby Town (9) - so it came as no surprise to see them fall behind with less than four minutes on the clock.

Former Trotters winger Liam Feeney picked up possession on the right-hand side and crossed into the penalty area, where a poor clearance from Delaney fell kindly for Lloyd to fire low and hard into the bottom corner of Matt Gilks' net.

Feeney was the danger man as Rovers pushed forward again shortly afterwards, this time crossing for an offside Peter Clarke to head inches over the crossbar.

Otis Khan lashed a 20-yard strike into the stands on 18 minutes, before the visitors' first sight of goal resulted in Antoni Sarcevic curling over from the edge of the box midway through the half.

Eoin Doyle looped a strike on to the top of Scott Davies' goal just after the half-hour following some neat wing-play from Zack Elbouzedi, before am ambitious long-range attempt from Lloyd Isgrove fizzed wide of the target moments later.

Lloyd dragged a shot wide of the post for Tranmere as he pounced on a mistake from Ricardo Santos with eight minutes of the half remaining, one which ended with the home side taking their one-goal advantage into the interval.

Evatt responded by introducing Arthur Gnahoua as the players returned for the second half, with Zack Elbouzedi making way.

Gnahoua has been utilised as an impact substitute in recent weeks but it was Tranmere who had the better of the early stages following the restart and were awarded a penalty on 53 minutes as Feeney went down under a challenge from Delaney - who was booked as a result.

After several minutes of treatment to an injured Delaney, Vaughan stood over the resulting spot-kick and made no mistake in slotting beyond Gilks to make it 2-0.

Ben Jackson saw a strike deflect behind on the hour as Bolton looked to get themselves back into the game, shortly before Rovers came close to extending their lead even further as Peter Clarke forced Gilks into a diving save from distance.

Wanderers did manage to get one back on 66 minutes, however, as Doyle played a one-two with substitute Nathan Delfouneso on the edge of the box before squaring for Sarcevic to slide in beyond Davies from close range.

With an injection of confidence in their arm, the visitors looked to get back on level terms and almost did when Doyle found the gloves of Davies from the next attack as he found a yard of space just inside the Rovers area.

Davies was called into action again with 20 minutes to play, this time keeping out a fierce drive from Gnahoua after he had worked his way beyond several Tranmere defenders inside the final third.

A major talking point then surrounded Monthe, who remained on the field after appearing to haul down Sarcevic as he went clean through on goal. Not only did the Rovers defender fail to receive a second yellow card, but the officials failed to award a free-kick.

Then, moments later, Wanderers found themselves down to 10 men as Delaney, who had already been booked, was given his marching orders for a stray arm in the face of Vaughan.

With attention back on the play itself, Feeney and Nya Kirby both came close to adding a third for Rovers, while Alex Baptiste, who had come on for Crawford in the aftermath of Delaney's red card, forced an outstanding save out of Davies as he shot on the turn.

Six minutes of time were added for stoppages but there was to be no further goalmouth action as Bolton slipped to their 10th league defeat of the campaign.

To compound matters for Evatt, he was also shown a red card in the aftermath of the game for his protestations towards the officials.

Tranmere Rovers: Davies, Khan, Clarke, Monthe, MacDonald, Lewis, Spearing, Feeney, Woolery (Kirby 66), Vaughan, Lloyd (Morris 80)
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Ferrier, Blackett-Taylor, Ray, Payne
Booked: Monthe, Clarke
Goals: Lloyd 4, Vaughan 56(pen)

Bolton Wandereres: Gilks, Jackson, Delaney, Santos, Jones, Sarcevic, Tutte, Crawford (Baptiste 77), Elbouzedi (Gnahoua 45), Isgrove (Delfouneso 62), Doyle
Subs Not Used: Crellin, Comley, Brockbank, Thomason
Booked: Delaney
Sent Off: Delaney
Goals: Sarcevic 66

Referee: Neil Hair

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9 Bolton Wanderers 30 44
10 Carlisle United 26 43
11 Bradford City 28 40
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