Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Port Vale

  • August 31, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton got their Papa John's Trophy campaign up and running with victory as goals from Eoin Doyle, Nathan Delfouneso and Oladapo Afolayan disposed of Port Vale.

Still smarting from their weekend defeat at Cambridge United, Wanderers went ahead on 28 minutes at the University of Bolton Stadium as Lloyd Isgrove's cross from the right was calmly slotted into the corner by Doyle.

Vale would fight back to lead at the break, though, with Tom Conlon and David Amoo firing them ahead, but the Trotters were much improved after the restart - drawing level through Delfouneso on 54 minutes before Afolayan came off the bench to fire home from the edge of the box with 13 minutes remaining.

With no league fixture until next Monday, Ian Evatt had vowed to name a strong team for the visit of the Valiants. Therefore, it perhaps came somewhat of a surprise to see eight changes made from the weekend loss at Cambridge.

Of the 11 that started at the Abbey Stadium, only Ricardo Santos, Isgrove and Doyle retained their places - while there was a first appearance of the season for Andrew Tutte, who lined up alongside George Thomason in central midfield.

Vale had scored six on their most recent visit to the University of Bolton Stadium - the only opposition side to have done so in a competitive fixture - and they fired a warning shot inside three minutes as Conlon picked out Amoo with a low cross, only for his strike to roll into the gloves of Matt Gilks.

Bolton soon hit the front and had a chance of their own on seven minutes, with Delfouneso finding space in the Port Vale half to roll a pass into Doyle, whose attempt flashed wide of goal.

Harry Brockbank saw a goalbound effort blocked soon thereafter, before Isgrove had a speculative long-ranger deflect behind after he had dispossessed Ben Garrity in midfield.

Wanderers came close from the resulting corner, with Isgrove bending the ball into the box where Alex Baptiste headed narrowly wide.

Isgrove was the provider again midway through the half as he picked out Elias Kachunga with an outstanding diagonal ball, but the forward's touch was just a little too heavy and was allowed to roll on through to Aidan Stone in the visiting goal.

The deadlock was broken shortly before the half-hour, though, as Isgrove's press forced a mistake in the Vale defence and was allowed to carry the ball into the box, where he squared for Doyle to slot home his 3rd of the campaign.

That lead would last just seven minutes, however, as James Gibbons' ball to Lewis Cass resulted in a low cross into the box, where Conlon took one touch before firing into the net to make it 1-1.

The visitors would then take a lead just two minutes before the break as Cass fed Amoo, who drove forward before forcing a mistake from Gilks at his near post to complete the turnaround.

Vale were denied a third in the closing stages of the half as Gilks this time saved from Amoo, making for some interesting half-time words from Evatt and his management team.

There were no changes to either team as the players returned for the second period, which saw the first chance fell the way of the visitors.

Delfouneso lost possession deep inside his own half, where Wanderers were fortunate to escape as Devante Rodney scuffed an effort wide after getting on the end of a cross.

Delfouneso has come in for criticism from Bolton supporters of late following his penalty miss at Wigan Athletic recently, as well as his general form since the turn of the year, but his confidence would have taken a huge boost on 54 minutes as he gambled at the near post to head in a pin-point cross from Isgrove.

Kachunga forced a save out of Stone as the hosts pressed forward soon after the hour, moments before Isgrove struck the post with a curling free-kick from 20 yards.

Tutte shot wide from a rare sight of goal with 20 minutes remaining, but Bolton weren't to be denied on 77 minutes as Liam Gordon burst forward from full-back and fed Afolayan, who took one touch on the edge of the area before rolling his strike into the bottom corner via the inside of Stone's post.

Garrity couldn't keep his attempt down as Vale looked for a late equaliser, while Wanderers were thankful to Santos in added time as he put his body on the line to thwart Mal Benning after Gilks had fumbled a cross.

The win sees Bolton claim back-to-back victories in the competition for the first time since January 1990 - coupled with a 3-2 success over Newcastle United U21 last November - and means they can book their place in the knockout stage if they beat Liverpool U21 on October 5.

For now, attention returns to league action and Burton Albion, who are the visitors for a televised clash at the University of Bolton Stadium next Monday.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks, Gordon, Baptiste, Santos, Brockbank, Thomason, Tutte, Isgrove (Afolayan 67), Kachunga (Henry 90+1), Delfouneso, Doyle (Sarcevic 67)
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Johnston, Senior, Conway
Booked: Delfouneso, Santos, Baptiste, Brockbank
Goals: Doyle 28, Delfouneso 54, Afolayan 77

Port Vale: Stone, Johnson, Smith, Cass, Gibbons (Taylor 55), Benning, Pett, Conlon (Worrall 55), Garrity, Rodney, Amoo (Lloyd 68)
Subs Not Used: Covolan, Jones, Martin, Wilson
Goals: Conlon 35, Amoo 43

Referee: Scott Oldham
Attendance: 2,926

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