Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Oxford United

  • August 21, 2021 | By Chris Mann
  • URL Short URL:

Eoin Doyle scored the winning goal on his 50th appearance for Bolton, who came from behind to beat Oxford United at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Trailing to a controversial 11th-minute opener from Matty Taylor, Wanderers went in level at the break as Oladapo Afolayan curled home from 25 yards in the closing stages of the half.

They would go on to win the game soon after the hour as Josh Sheehan's near-post corner was flicked across the face of goal by Doyle, who wheeled away in celebration as he watched the ball ripple inside the far netting.

Hot on the heels of a 1-0 win at Lincoln City this past Tuesday, Ian Evatt made two changes to his team as Declan John returned from injury to replace Liam Gordon, while Lloyd Isgrove took the place of Amadou Bakayoko, who was out with a calf strain.

Both teams had chances inside the opening five minutes, with the visitors first to raise fans to their feet as Steve Seddon's cross from the left was headed wide by Sam Winnall.

At the other end, the ball broke kindly to Antoni Sarcevic inside the United box. He cut the play back to Sheehan, whose first-time effort was prodded wide from six yards.

Seddon dragged an attempt wide from the edge of the box on eight minutes, but Oxford did go ahead from their next attack as Taylor sprung the offside trap.

Running on to a lofted pass from Winnall, Taylor appeared to bring the ball under control with his arm before rounding Joel Dixon and jogging it into an empty net. Despite the appeals of home players, staff and fans in the stands, the goal was allowed to stand and the visitors held a 1-0 lead.

Bolton were gifted a chance to equalise five minutes later as goalkeeper Jack Stevens gave away a free-kick as a result of a back-pass, but they couldn't capitalise as Doyle's strike from Sheehan's lay-off was blocked by a body of United defenders.

Stevens was called into action for the first time when Sarcevic forced him into a low save midway through the half, while Afolayan dragged a shot well wide on 27 minutes after MJ Williams had stolen possession in dangerous territory.

The Oxford goalkeeper was required again with 10 minutes of the half remaining, sticking out a left boot to prevent George Johnston's flick from a Sheehan corner from rolling into the bottom corner, while Dixon had to be alert at the other end to thwart Taylor from grabbing a second.

Then, with a matter of seconds remaining of the regulation 45 minutes, Afolayan was afforded too much time and space on the left flank. He drifted inside, took aim from 25 yards and found the net with an outstanding bending drive - making it 1-1 as the players departed at the interval.

There were no changes to either team as they returned for the second-half, which began in similar fashion to the first as Gavin Whyte tested the gloves of Dixon from another Seddon cut-back.

Taylor was then denied twice in quick succession, first heading straight at Dixon from a Seddon cross, before another move saw him collect possession from Winnall before seeing an attempt blocked by Ricardo Santos.

Bolton were visibly growing in confidence as the clock ticked beyond the hour and they took the lead on 64 minutes as Sheehan's corner met the head of Doyle, who flicked the ball across the face of goal and into the far corner to complete the comeback and make it 2-1.

Oxford were fortunate not to fall further behind on 73 minutes as Stevens' parry from a Sarcevic shot struck the back of Jordan Thorniley, who was relieved to see it fly inches over the crossbar.

Wanderers came even closer three minutes later as Doyle beat the United goalkeeper to a ball on the right-hand side of the box, but the Irish forward couldn't quite squeeze his shot inside the far post as it rolled behind.

Sheehan shot wide with a little over five minutes to play, before both Kieran Lee and Whyte were guilty of missing from close range at either end as the clock ran out of time.

Referee Hair called time after four additional minutes had been played, giving Bolton back-to-back wins at this level for the first time since November 2019.

Evatt's side are in midweek action once again this coming Tuesday, when they make the short journey to Wigan Athletic in the second round of the Carabao Cup.

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, John, (Baptiste 71), Johnston, Santos, Jones, Williams, Sheehan, Afolayan, Sarcevic (Lee 88), Isgrove (Kachunga 80), Doyle
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Delfouneso, Brockbank, Thomason
Goals: Afolayan 45, Doyle 63

Oxford United: Stevens, Forde, McNally, Thorniley, Seddon, Sykes (McGuane 67), Rodriguez (Agyei 87), Brannagan, Winnall (Holland 77), Taylor, Whyte
Subs Not Used: Eastwood, Moore, Mousinho, Cooper
Booked: Taylor, McGuane, Forde
Goals: Taylor 11

Referee: Neil Hair
Attendance: 15,073

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Portsmouth 19 42
2 Bolton Wanderers 18 39
3 Oxford United 18 36
4 Stevenage 20 36
5 Peterborough United 19 35
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2022/23 Player of the Year?
25.9% Conor Bradley
22.3% James Trafford
20.09% Dion Charles
10.05% Kyle Dempsey
6.82% Aaron Morley
6.45% Ricardo Almeida Santos
3.5% George Johnston
3.32% Eoin Toal
1.01% Kieran Lee
0.55% Gethin Jones