Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Stevenage

  • February 13, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Declan John scored on his first start for Bolton, who beat Stevenage to record a first league double since February 2019.

John, who had made two substitute appearances since joining on loan from Swansea City in January, fired home inside seven minutes at the University of Bolton Stadium as Wanderers made it three games unbeaten for the first time since November.

The Trotters finished with 10 men for the second game in succession, as MJ Williams was dismissed with 12 minutes remaining for a challenge on Boro's Tom Pett, but it mattered not as the home side took all three points having gone a man down for the first time since November 2012 - when they beat Cardiff City 2-1 at the Reebok Stadium in Dougie Freedman's first game as manager.

Current boss Ian Evatt made four changes to the side that started against Morecambe on Tuesday as John, Gethin Jones, Marcus Maddison and Oladapo Afolayan took the places of Ben Jackson, Harry Brockbank, Lloyd Isgrove and Arthur Gnahoua.

Stevenage, who enjoyed an away victory at Tranmere Rovers in midweek, began the better of the two sides and they came close inside two minutes as Luke Norris volleyed over.

Chris Lines, who had been the provider for Norris moments earlier, tried his luck from the next attack but couldn't quite direct his strike on target.

Wanderers' first opportunity arrived with six minutes played as Nathan Delfouneso found Maddison in space midway inside the Boro half. After working his way towards the edge of the box, the on-loan Charlton Athletic winger clipped his effort over the bar.

The hosts didn't have to wait long to break the deadlock, though, as loanee Afolayan rolled the ball into the path of John, who rifled beyond David Stockdale from the edge of the area to make it 1-0 on his first start for the club.

Bolton came close to doubling their lead shortly thereafter, as a quickly-taken corner from Maddison was headed into the side-netting by an alert Eoin Doyle.

Stevenage hit back on 10 minutes as Lines played Jack Aitchison in on goal but, with the angle narrowing, his attempt was comfortably saved by the legs of Matt Gilks.

Alex Baptiste found himself in unfamiliar territory on the quarter-hour, latching on to a ball from Maddison before scooping a shot narrowly wide of the post.

Doyle was next to test Stockdale, receiving possession from Delfouneso before forcing the former Premier League stopper into a save from the edge of the box.

Wanderers were dominant but somewhat wasteful in possession and they granted Stevenage's Danny Newton a free-hit just before the half-hour, but Gilks was positioned well to make another routine save.

Doyle saw a deflected drive stopped by Stockdale just before the half-hour, and there would only be one further oppoortunity prior to the break as Ricardo Santos headed into the gloves of the Boro goalkeeper as he connected with a corner from Afolayan.

Having gone in a goal ahead at the interval, it came as no surprise that there were no chances for the second period, which began with Santos heading over from an Afolayan cross within 90 seconds of the restart.

With both sides struggling to get the ball into the final third, changes did soon come and for Bolton it resulted in the introduction of both Gnahoua and Isgrove - who were on in place of Delfouneso and Maddison either side of the hour.

Norris volleyed wide from a long-throw with a little over 20 minutes remaining, while Isgrove forced Stockdale into a save at the other end after he had been picked out by Afolayan.

Then, a potential turning point arrived on 78 minutes as Williams went into a 50/50 challenge with Pett and rose to his feet to see referee Trevor Kettle holding a red card.

Wanderers were 1-0 up when they were reduced to 10 men in their last outing, and so the game turned into a question of whether they had learned from their mistakes of four days earlier.

Gilks was called into action five minutes later as Stevenage finally looked to have broken through, but the goalkeeper stood firm to hold on to a goalbound header from Norris.

Norris was a major threat again as the clock ticked towards stoppage time, forcing a way beyond John before seeing his strike deflect behind off Baptiste.

The visitors' final chance arrived inside the four added minutes as a corner from Lines was flicked towards goal by Luke Prosser, but Matty Stevens couldn't quite stretch enough to nod the ball home from close range.

Despite their late scare, Wanderers held on to claim victory that moves them up to 13th place in League Two ahead of Wednesday's rearranged fixture at Mansfield Town.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, John, Baptiste, Santos, Jones, Williams, Thomason, Afolayan (Tutte 81), Delfouneso (Gnahoua 60), Maddison (Isgrove 64), Doyle
Subs Not Used: Comley, Miller, Elbouzedi, Jackson
Booked: Thomason
Sent Off: Williams
Goals: John 7

Stevenage: Stockdale, Wildin (Hutton 76), Vancooten, Prosser, Coker, List, Aitchison (Roles 86), Lines, Pett, Newton (Stevens 57), Norris
Subs Not Used: Johnson, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Smith

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Accrington Stanley 0 0
2 Barnsley 0 0
3 Bolton Wanderers 0 0
4 Bristol Rovers 0 0
5 Burton Albion 0 0
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2021/22 Player of the Year?
32.58% Oladapo Afolayan
30.96% Gethin Jones
21.72% Ricardo Almeida Santos
5.51% Declan John
4.05% Kieran Lee
3.08% MJ Williams
1.78% Joel Dixon
0.32% George Johnston