Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Shrewsbury Town

  • October 02, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Antoni Sarcevic and Oladapo Afolayan struck first-half beauties as Bolton made it back-to-back wins by beating Shrewsbury Town.

Sarcevic opened the scoring with 18 minutes played at the University of Bolton Stadium, cutting inside from the left before bending an unstoppable strike into the top corner of Marko Marosi's goal.

Afolayan then scored an almost carbon-copy of Sarcevic's opener just five minutes later, also drifting in from the left before picking out the bottom corner with a curling effort from similar range.

Salop were given a lifeline when Sarcevic conceded a penalty 11 minutes after the break, but it was a chance they spurned as Joel Dixon stood firm to deny Ryan Bowman from the spot.

Town did manage to set up a tense finish, however, with Luke Leahy firing home a free-kick in the final minute of normal time, but they couldn't force an equaliser as Bolton took all three points that could and perhaps should have been in the bag a little sooner.

After recovering from defeat at Sunderland last Saturday with a 4-1 victory at Charlton Athletic on Tuesday night, Ian Evatt made just one change as George Johnston returned to the defence in place of the benched Alex Baptiste.

The Wanderers boss opted not to name a substitute goalkeeper, instead making room for seven outfield players including Amadou Bakayoko - back following a lengthy spell out with a calf injury.

It was all Shrewsbury in the early exchanges, with the visitors seeing their first sight of goal on six minutes as Shaun Whalley found space before seeing his strike charged down.

Daniel Udoh prodded wide soon after, reacting quickest after Aaron Pierre had nodded down a corner, before Udoh saw another attempt blocked by Ricardo Santos, who rose to his feet to deny Bowman from the follow-up.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, Bolton hit the front and found the opening goal. After receiving the ball from Kieran Lee, Sarcevic cut in from the left an unleashed an unstoppable curling strike that found the top corner of Marosi's goal to make it 1-0.

Afolayan flashed a shot over the crossbar from distance moments later, but he would join Sarcevic on the scoresheet midway through the half as he, too, collected the ball from Lee before picking out the bottom corner with a goal that wasn't too dissimilar to the previous one.

Marosi was looking shaky at this point and he didn't look entirely comfortable with a routine save from a Gethin Jones, which was gathered at the second attempt.

Shrewsbury rarely troubled in the first-half but did have the final effort before the break, with Elliott Bennett finding space on the box before seeing his goalbound strike cleared off the line by Santos.

Wanderers returned for the second period with one substitution made, as Lloyd Isgrove returned from injury to take the place of Jones - who had taken a knock shortly before half-time.

With the action back underway, it was Bolton who fashioned the first shooting opportunity as Afolayan picked out the run of Lee, whose shot from 12 yards was gathered by Marosi.

Marosi was alert again on 52 minutes, this time denying Afolayan after he had shifted away from Pierre on the edge of the box.

Shrewsbury's first venture into the final third saw them awarded a penalty with 56 minutes played. Shaun Whalley broke free of Declan John in the right-hand corner and after evading a slip from MJ Williams, was taken down by a challenge from Sarcevic.

Referee Marc Edwards had little hesitation in pointing to the spot, but Town's hopes of getting back into the game were dashed as Bowman's chipped attempt down the centre of the goal was punched away by Dixon.

The hosts offered little in terms of an attacking threat as the half progressed, with the effects of a tiring week appearing to show, but they were also rarely troubled at the back.

It wasn't until the 81st minute that the next chance of note arrived, with Elias Kachunga fizzing a shot straight at Marosi after he had received the ball 25 yards from goal.

Shrewsbury then got themselves back in the game in bizarre fashion, with Santos appearing to pick the ball up on the edge of his own area after the assistant referee had incorrectly lifted his flag for an offside.

After awarding a free-kick to Salop, referee Edwards subsequently booked Santos, after which Leahy bent home an outstanding set-piece to make it 2-1 going into five minutes of stoppage time.

Thankfully for Bolton, there were to be no further attempts on goal as they ran down the clock to seal a 2-1 win and record back-to-back victories for the first time since August.

They return to action this coming Tuesday, when Liverpool U21 are the visitors in the Papa John's Trophy.

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, John, Johnston, Santos, Jones (Isgrove 45), Lee (Sheehan 78), Williams, Afolayan, Sarcevic, Kachunga, Doyle (Bakayoko 71)
Subs Not Used: Delfouneso, Thomason, Baptiste, Gordon
Booked: Santos
Goals: Sarcevic 18, Afolayan 23

Shrewsbury Town: Marosi, Pennington, Ebanks-Landell, Pierre, Bennett, Davis, Leahy, Nurse, Whalley (Ogbeta 80), Bowman (Bloxham 74), Udoh (Cosgrove 75)
Subs Not Used: Burgoyne, Pyke, Caton, Leshabela
Booked: Bennett
Goals: Leahy 89

Referee: Marc Edwards
Attendance: 14,124

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