Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Rotherham United

  • September 18, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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A bumper crowd was in attendance to see Bolton, as they slipped to their first home defeat of the season against Rotherham United.

With just shy of 21,000 at the University of Bolton Stadium, Wanderers were made to pay for two first-half lapses as a quick-fire brace from Ben Wiles gave the Millers a deserved three points on the road.

The home side did have the ball in the net on 41 minutes, only for George Johnston to be denied by an offside flag, while Eoin Doyle struck a post on a frustrating day for Ian Evatt, who was also booked by referee James Bell deep into the second period.

Following on from last Saturday's 5-2 victory at Ipswich Town, Evatt named an unchanged team for the visit of Rotherham - on an afternoon where three points and favourable results elsewhere could have seen them move to the top of the League One table.

They started brightly, too, with Doyle breaking free of the United defence and teeing up Antoni Sarcevic, whose shot was blocked before a rebound from Oladapo Afolayan was deflected behind for a corner.

Josh Sheehan whipped the resulting cross into the box, from which Johnston headed narrowly over the top of Viktor Johansson's crossbar.

The visitors' first sight of goal came with eight minutes played as Chiedozie Ogbene's cross from the right was only partially cleared. Wiles took the ball down on his chest but couldn't hit the target, volleying over from just inside the box.

Joel Dixon was called into action for the first time from the next attack, parrying away a goalbound effort from Ollie Rathbone, moments before Johnston headed wide at the other end as he once again connected with a Sheehan corner.

The deadlock was broken in the 18th minute, though, as Wiles received possession from a throw-in before unleashing an outstanding drive that flew into the top corner of Dixon's goal.

Wiles grabbed his and Rotherham's second of the afternoon just three minutes later, rising highest to meet Daniel Barlaser's corner with a header that bounced down into the ground before nestling in the far corner.

Bolton needed a goal quickly if they were to stop things from getting any worse and they responded well, with Sarcevic seeing a shot blocked by Joe Mattock, before Afolayan saw a follow-up put behind.

The Trotters maintained their pressure and came close to reducing the deficit on 24 minutes, only for Doyle to strike the post when presented with his first clear sight of the goal.

Gethin Jones headed a free-kick from Sheehan over the bar soon after the half-hour, shortly before the full-back scuffed a shot straight into the gloves of Johansson as he latched on to a cutback from Afolayan.

Johnston had the ball in the net four minutes before the break as he headed in a free-kick from Sheehan, but the offside flag denied him as Wanderers went in trailing 2-0 at the interval.

Neither manager looked to their substitutes' bench at the start of the second period, which began with Lloyd Isgrove forcing Johansson into a smart save within four minutes of the restart.

Sheehan clipped a free-kick on to the roof of the net three minutes later after Doyle had been fouled by Mattock on the edge of the area, moments before Michael Smith saw a strike bounce off the inside of the post after he had played a neat one-two with Will Grigg at the other end.

Johnston continued to look like Bolton's most-likely goalscorer, coming close yet again with an acrobatic attempt from another Sheehan free-kick on 65 minutes, before the provider almost turned scorer himself with a tame effort that rolled into the arms of Johansson.

Rotherham strolled through the second-half knowing that Bolton were going to have to come up with something special to force their way back into the game, and it wasn't until the 81st minute that their next opportunity arrived as substitute Elias Kachunga headed straight at Johansson.

Smith blazed over for Rotherham after Liam Gordon had squandered possession and although seven minutes of stoppage time were allocated, it would prove to be the final chance of the afternoon as the visitors took three points that had looked pretty secure since the 21st minute.

Bolton will now face a long week on the training ground ahead of another difficult fixture next weekend, when they face Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, Gordon, Johnston, Santos, Jones, Sheehan (Lee 71), Williams, Afolayan, Sarcevic (Kachunga 76), Isgrove, Doyle
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Delfouneso, Aimson, Thomason, Baptiste
Booked: Afolayan, Williams, Jones

Rotherham United: Johansson, Edmonds-Green, Wood, Mattock, Barlaser (Lindsay 60), Ogbene (Hylton Harding 45), Wiles, Rathbone, Bola, Smith, Grigg (Sadlier 78)
Subs Not Used: Vickers, Kayode, Ihiekwe, Odoffin
Booked: Wood, Mattock, Harding
Goals: Wiles 18,21

Referee: James Bell
Attendance: 20,877

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