Southend United 0-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • February 20, 2021 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL: http://b-ac.es/8ac19

Shaun Miller came off the substitutes' bench to score the only goal as Bolton made it three wins in-a-row with victory at Southend United.

With the game scoreless with 15 minutes to play, Wanderers boss Ian Evatt made the bold move to replace leading goalscorer Eoin Doyle in a switch that would pay off seven minutes later in strange circumstances.

After Antoni Sarcevic's initial strike had been scuffed into the ground, the Trotters captain closed down an attempted clearance that saw the ball ricochet up into the air. United goalkeeper Mark Oxley seemed to lose his bearings, parrying back into dangerous territory where Miller was alert to volley home from close range.

With Wanderers in the midst of a run which sees them take in 10 games over the course of just five weeks, Evatt had called for honesty from his players in terms of their fitness and levels of fatigue following Wednesday's last-gasp victory at Mansfield Town.

So it perhaps came as a surprise to see just one change to the team that began at the One Call Stadium last time out, with Nathan Delfouneso returning in place of the benched Lloyd Isgrove.

Captain Sarcevic was named amongst the substitutes after a month on the sidelines, with Doyle continuing to skipper the side in his absence.

With the action underway, it was Bolton who created the first opportunity of the afternoon as Oladapo Afolayan dropped a shoulder on the edge of the box before firing narrowly wide of Oxley's left-hand post with six minutes played.

The visitors should have gone ahead moments later as Oxley spilled a powerful drive from Marcus Maddison, only for Doyle to prod a rebound over the top from six yards whilst under pressure from a Southend defender.

Ashley Nathaniel-George had the hosts' first chance on nine minutes, shooting wide of Matt Gilks' goal from distance, while Doyle also struck wide at the other end after latching on to a pass from Afolayan.

Wanderers had the ball in the net on 17 minutes as Afolayan turned home from close range, but the celebrations were cut short after the assistant referee had adjudged Doyle to have been in an offside position in the build up as he received the play from Maddison.

Elvis Bwomono headed over midway through the half as the Shrimpers looked to establish a lead, shortly before Maddison blasted wide from distance for the Trotters.

Simeon Akinola was denied by Gilks with a little under 10 minutes of the half to play, although an offside flag had been raised as he connected with a Tom Clifford free-kick.

But it was the visitors who ended the half the stronger as Alex Baptiste couldn't turn a free-kick from Maddison beyond Oxley, while the final chance before the interval saw Maddison shoot over from 30 yards after Doyle had seen a goalbound strike cleared off the line.

Although the first half ended as it had began, neither manager made changes as the players returned for the second period.

With play now resumed, neither side created any chances of note as the clock ticked towards the hour - prompting Wanderers boss Evatt into a triple substitution in which he replaced almost the entirety of his attacking options.

Off came Afolayan, Delfouneso and Maddison, with Sarcevic, Isgrove and Arthur Gnahoua all entering the fray.

15 minutes later and still no goalmouth action to report, Evatt took a gamble in withdrawing the ineffective Doyle and introducing Miller in search of a late winner.

The change paid dividends just seven minutes later as Bolton broke the deadlock in strange circumstances.

After Sarcevic had scuffed his shot into the ground, he closed down an attempted clearance which lofted the ball up into the air. United goalkeeper Oxley looked untroubled and confident enough to tip it over the crossbar, but instead parried back into play where Miller was on hand to volley in from six yards.

It proved to be the only major action point of an otherwise lacklustre second-half, with five minutes of added time passing by without incident as Wanderers took all three points on the road for the second time in four days.

They move up to 10th place in the League Two table after their latest victory, three points shy of the final play-off place, ahead of Tuesday's home fixture against Scunthorpe United.

Southend United: Oxley, Bwomono, Hobson, White, Clifford (Hart 78), Demetriou (Taylor 86), Dieng, Hackett-Fairchild (Holmes 67), Ferguson (Acquah 78), Nathaniel-George, Akinola
Subs Not Used: Seaden, McCormack, Cordner
Booked: Ferguson, Bwomono

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, John, Baptiste, Santos, Jones, Williams, Lee, Afolayan (Sarcevic 63), Delfouneso (Gnahoua 63), Maddison (Isgrove 63), Doyle (Miller 75)
Subs Not Used: Tutte, Thomason, Jackson
Booked: Williams, John
Goals: Miller 82

Referee: Declan Bourne

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
7 Salford City 29 45
8 Newport County 28 44
9 Bolton Wanderers 30 44
10 Carlisle United 26 43
11 Bradford City 28 40
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