Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Cambridge United

  • March 09, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton made it 10 games unbeaten for the first time since February 2006 as they beat Cambridge United at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Hosting the division's 2nd-placed team is a daunting task facing the majority of clubs in professional football, but Wanderers made easy work of the U's as first-half goals from Eoin Doyle and Antoni Sarcevic put them in cruise control going into the interval.

The Trotters took their foot off the gas after the restart and looked to be in for a nervy finish when Kyle Knoyle saw a strike squirm through the grasp of Matt Gilks with 10 minutes to play, but Ian Evatt's side saw out time to cement their place in the League Two play-off places - just five points behind leaders Cheltenham Town.

As has become accustomary in recent weeks, Evatt made one change to the side that started against Bradford City on Saturday as Nathan Delfouneso returned to the team in place of Lloyd Isgrove.

Prior to kick-off, playing and off-field staff of both clubs observed a minute's silence in memory of the 33 individuals who lost their lives at the Burnden Park disaster in 1946 as the club marked the 75th anniversary of those tragic events.

Once the action had got underway, it was Cambridge who created the first opportunity as they looked to take advantage of a nervy Wanderers - Shilow Tracey forcing a save out of Gilks inside 12 minutes as he looked to catch the goalkeeper unawares at his near post.

Bolton's first sight of goal arrived on the quarter-hour as a bending cross from Declan John picked out Doyle inside the box, but his volley was excellently tipped away by Callum Burton.

The hosts began to find some momentum and they came close again five minutes later as John found Sarcevic, whose layoff to Kieran Lee resulted in a strike that flew over the crossbar.

John whipped a free-kick inches over the top after Doyle had been fouled midway through the half, before the on-loan Swansea City full-back was denied by the legs of Burton as he pushed forward again soon after the half-hour.

Bolton could have gone ahead with 36 minutes on the clock, only for Oladapo Afolayan to be denied by Burton, but the deadlock was finally broken two minutes later.

Latching on to a pass from Sarcevic, Gethin Jones found himself with his back to goal. With Doyle unmarked to his side, the former Wales international laid the ball off to the forward, who picked out the bottom corner to make it 1-0.

That lead was doubled shortly before the break as Cambridge struggled to deal with an onslaught of pressure which had seen Afolayan denied by Burton and Lee have a shot cleared off the line, only for Sarcevic to volley home from the edge of the box after United had only managed to partially clear the danger.

Doyle should have added a third in stoppage time, only to see his dinked effort from a narrow angle roll inches past the far post.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there were no changes to the Wanderers team as they took to the field for the second period, although United did introduce Jack Iredale in place of Harrison Dunk.

With play now resumed, there was little action of note as the clock ticked towards the hour, with a half-chance for Sarcevic the best either side could create - with his effort from distance gathered by Burton at the second attempt.

Cambridge began to show clear signs of frustration soon thereafter as both Joe Ironside and Declan Drysdale entered the referee's book, but Wanderers couldn't quite take full advantage by adding a third to put them out of sight.

The closest they came to adding to their two-goal cushion arrived at the midpoint of the half as Doyle's blocked attempt fell at the feet of Lee, whose bending shot was pushed behind by an outstretched Burton.

Burton was alert to the danger again on 73 minutes, this time throwing himself at the feet of Afolayan as the loanee looked set to slot in at the near post.

Luke Hannant worked himself a yard of space before firing wide five minutes later, before United pulled a goal back in strange circumstances as Knoyle's harmless strike from distance was fumbled over the line by Gilks to make it 2-1.

Shaun Miller headed over in the latter stages before Paul Mullin was denied by a combination of Baptiste and MJ Williams at the other end, moments before his appeals for a penalty were ignored by referee Peter Wright following an alleged pull on the shirt by George Thomason.

Five minutes of added time was signalled, during which Marcus Maddison bent a long-range effort wide of the post, while the final chance of the game saw Gilks comfortably gather a strike from Mullin to ensure his side took all three points.

Bolton remain in 7th place following the evening's results, although they now fall just four points short of the automatic promotion spots and five behind league leaders Cheltenham with 12 games to play.

Evatt's side are back in action this coming Saturday when they travel to Port Vale.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, John, Baptiste, Santos, Jones, Williams, Lee, Sarcevic (Maddison 62), Afolayan (Gnahoua 81), Delfouneso (Thomason 75), Doyle (Miller 81)
Subs Not Used: Tutte, Brockbank, Isgrove
Booked: Lee
Goals: Doyle 38, Sarcevic 43

Cambridge United: Burton, Knoyle, Taylor, Drysdale, Dunk (Iredale 45), Tracey, May (O'Neil 62), Boateng (Digby 62), Hannant, Mullin, Ironside
Subs Not Used: McKenzie-Lyle, Okedina, Alese, Worman
Booked: Mullin, Ironside, Drysdale
Goals: Knoyle 80

Referee: Peter Wright

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