Bolton Wanderers 2-0 Scunthorpe United

  • February 23, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton moved to within a point of the League Two play-off places as an Eoin Doyle penalty and second-half strike from Antoni Sarcevic gave them victory over Scunthorpe United.

Wanderers, who were utterly dominant with and without the ball for much of the game, took the lead in fortuitous circumstances as Jacob Bedeau was punished for a high boot in the Iron box and Doyle smashed home from the penalty spot eight minutes before the break.

The Trotters soaked up plenty of United pressure in the second period and had rarely looked troubled before Sarcevic came off the bench to slot in a second with 16 minutes to play and give his side a fourth consecutive victory that moves them up to 9th in the league table.

In an attempt to keep his squad fighting fit in the midst of a busy run of fixtures, Ian Evatt made two changes as George Thomason and Lloyd Isgrove came into the midfield in place of Kieran Lee and Marcus Maddison.

With the action underway at a blustery University of Bolton Stadium, it was Wanderers who created the first opportunity of the evening as Oladapo Afolayan saw a shot deflect wide within three minutes after he latched on to a pass from Declan John.

Despite enjoying the lion's share of the possession, Bolton struggled to find a way in behind a resolute Scunthorpe defence and it took until the 17th minute for them to get another sniff of goal, with Doyle seeing a goalbound header deflect behind off George Taft.

Afolayan struck a poor free-kick into a United wall after Delfouneso had been felled by Jem Karacan, while a cross from Gethin Jones was just too heavy for Doyle to make a telling touch as the clock ticked towards the half-hour.

Isgrove found Afolayan in space on 35 minutes, only for the West Ham United loanee to fire wide, but Bolton were given the chance to break the deadlock moments later as Bedeau was punished for a high boot in the face of Delfouneso and referee Anthony Backhouse pointed to the spot.

Doyle took responsibility for the resulting penalty-kick and he made no mistake from 12 yards, firing into the roof of the net beyond a helpless Mark Howard.

Afolayan dragged a strike wide as he looked to double the advantage five minutes before the break, while the final chance fell the way of the visitors as Abo Eisa curled a free-kick into the gloves of Matt Gilks, who had been completely anonymous up until that point.

Less than impressed with his team's display until that point, Scunthorpe boss Neil Cox made a triple substitution at the start of the second period - introducing Jordan Clarke, Harrison McGahey and Kevin van Veen in place of Jai Rowe, Devarn Green and the aforementioned Bedeau.

The visitors looked a little more comfortable following the restart and they had a chance to draw level on 53 minutes as a corner from Alex Gilliead was headed towards goal by Taft, only for Gilks to make a routine save to deny his former teammate.

John has surprised many with two goals to his name since joining Bolton on loan from Swansea City and he came close to another when Doyle teed him up at the other end, only for the left-back to slice his shot into the stand.

A rare moment of panic in the Trotters backline almost cost them dear two minutes later, as Gilks came rushing off his line to prevent Eisa from running through. The veteran goalkeeper made a hash of his clearance, however, leaving van Veen with an unguarded net from which to aim for, but Alex Baptiste rushed back to clear a goalbound strike off the line and preserve his side's lead.

van Veen struck wide again soon after the hour, before Afolayan broke away from Karacan at the other end before shooting straight into the arms of Howard.

Sarcevic was hurled into the action with a little over 20 minutes to play and his presence was felt immediately, with his cross to the far post being headed wide by Jones.

The club captain found the net shortly afterwards, though, finding time and space inside the box to slot home from close range after Doyle had superbly dummied a low cutback from Isgrove.

Sarcevic was involved again as Bolton pushed forward in search of a third, cutting the ball back into the area for Arthur Gnahoua. He subsequently teed up Shaun Miller, whose effort on goal was charged down.

Scunthorpe briefly threatened a comeback when van Veen robbed MJ Williams of possession with five minutes remaining, only to see his lofted shot tipped on to the roof of the net by a full-stretch Gilks.

Miller had one final attempt blocked by McGahey inside five added minutes for stoppages but the two-goal cushion proved to be enough in any case, as Bolton racked up a fourth successive win that moves them to within a point of 7th-placed Salford City.

Wanderers will have the chance to break into those elusive play-off places this coming Saturday when Evatt's former club Barrow are the visitors to the University of Bolton Stadium.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, John, Baptiste, Santos, Jones, Williams, Thomason, Afolayan (Sarcevic 69), Delfouneso (Gnahoua 80), Isgrove (Maddison 89), Doyle (Miller 80)
Subs Not Used: Comley, Tutte, Jackson
Booked: John, Thomason, Doyle, Williams
Goals: Doyle 37(pen), Sarcevic 74

Scunthorpe United: Howard, Rowe (Clarke 45), Bedeau (McGahey 45), Taft, Brown (O'Malley 75), Gilliead, Beestin, Karacan (Spence 75), Green (van Veen 45), Eisa, Loft
Subs Not Used: Watson, Hallam
Booked: McGahey

Referee: Anthony Backhouse

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
5 Tranmere Rovers 32 54
6 Newport County 32 51
7 Bolton Wanderers 33 51
8 Exeter City 31 50
9 Salford City 32 50
View Full Standings >>


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