Bolton Wanderers 2-2 Stockport County

  • November 07, 2021 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton and Stockport County must meet again after they played out a 2-2 draw in the first-round of the FA Cup at the University of Bolton Stadium.

It was County, who were more than a match for a side two divisions above them for much of the afternoon, who struck first as Scott Quigley pounced on a poor pass from George Thomason to get the better of Ricardo Almeida Santos and strike low beyond Joel Dixon.

Wanderers would then turn the game around in the space of just four minutes, equalising through Eoin Doyle on 33 minutes before going ahead when Elias Kachunga drilled in his first for the club.

The non-league side would restore parity before the break, however, earning themselves a replay back at Edgeley Park as Ben Whitfield took advantage of yet more generous defending to drill in a leveller that meant the tie ended all-square at 2-2.

Ian Evatt had identified cup games against both Rochdale and Stockport as an opportunity to inject some confidence into his struggling squad and he made just one change to the side that cruised to a 3-0 victory at the Crown Oil Arena on Tuesday as Kieran Lee came in for the injured Josh Sheehan.

With the action under way, it was Bolton who had the first sight of goal as Oladapo Afolayan cut in from the left-hand side before dragging a shot wide of Ethan Ross' far post.

County's first opening of the afternoon came on 13 minutes as Quigley got in behind before shooting wide, only to see an offside flag raised against him in any case.

MJ Williams struck over from 25 yards and Kachunga was denied from close range by Ross as the clock approached the 20-minute mark, but it was the visitors who broke the deadlock against the run of play by capitalising on some slack defending at the other end.

Santos' ball into Thomason put the young midfielder into trouble, and in his attempt to pass back into the path of the captain, Quigley pounced to break clear and slide into the bottom corner to send 5,000-plus travelling fans into ecstacy.

Bolton were rocked by going behind and took several minutes to rediscover their composure. They did just that on the half hour as Afolayan saw a shot blocked, before Lloyd Isgrove saw a follow-up deflect into the side-netting.

Declan John fired a free-kick into a Stockport wall from the next attack, while Afolayan sent the rebound into the gloves of Ross, but Wanderers were level on 33 minutes with the best move of the game up to that point.

With seemingly little on ahead of him, Afolayan spread the play superbly to Isgrove on the right flank. His first-time ball across the face of goal picked out Doyle at the far post, who had the simple task of slotting in to make it 1-1.

The Trotters were ahead just three minutes later as Afolayan's drive from 25 yards was parried back into dangerous territory by Ross, who couldn't react quickly enough as Kachunga's rebound went through his legs to put the hosts into a 2-1 lead.

Stockport almost got themselves back on level terms within two minutes as Paddy Madden was denied by a reaction save from Dixon, moments before Ash Palmer also called the goalkeeper into action after he latched on to a short corner from John Rooney.

Five minutes of stoppage time was added at the end of the half and it proved to be enough for Dave Challinor's side to draw level. Quigley got on the end of a long ball on the left-hand side and played it inside to Madden, whose quick thinking put Whitfield in on goal to slide in an equaliser.

Liam Gordon was introduced as a half-time substitute after John appeared to be suffering from injury late in the first period, while County withdrew goalscorer Whitfield and replaced him with Ryan Rydel.

The visitors began the brighter of the teams after the restart and were denied a certain goal when Dixon came rushing out of his area to clear the danger on 50 minutes, while Bolton had to wait until the hour for their first sight of goal.

When that arrived, it was Isgrove who pushed forward from right-back and played the ball into the path of Thomason. He threaded a pass to Afolayan, whose low ball across goal wasn't quite what Doyle would have wanted.

Doyle was involved again moments later, with his header from an Isgrove cross pushed away by Ross, while Palmer was alert to the danger as he put his body on the line to deny Lee from the follow-up.

Thomason drilled over from just outside the box from the next attack, while Doyle struck wide of Ross' target after he had found a yard of space from an Afolayan pass midway through the half.

Wanderers almost went ahead in strange circumstances as Gordon's cross to the far post was tipped behind by a backtracking goalkeeper with 15 minutes to play, shortly before Alex Baptiste found himself in unfamiliar territory as he struck wide from just inside the box.

The home support grew increasingly frustrated as the clock ticked towards 90 minutes, with County seemingly happy to take a replay while Wanderers failed to build any form of tempo into their attacking play.

Their second-half was summed up when Afolayan selfishly went for goal with a free-kick from a narrow angle with two minutes to play, with the ball flying high and wide of goal.

Amadou Bakayoko had the final chance of the afternoon, heading wide from Isgrove's centre, but with the scores level at the end of the game the two sides must go it again at Edgeley Park in a little over a week's time.

Wanderers, meanwhile, are back in action this coming Friday when they host Crewe Alexandra in league competition at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, John (Gordon 45), Baptiste, Santos, Isgrove, Thomason (Delfouneso 69), Williams, Afolayan, Lee, Kachunga (Bakayoko 76), Doyle
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Johnston, Aimson, Edwards, Henry, Pettifer
Booked: Isgrove, Kachunga, Santos
Goals: Doyle 33, Kachunga 36

Stockport County: Ross, Minihan (Collar 60), Hogan, Palmer, Kitching (Pye 70), Rooney, Croasdale (Keane 79), Crankshaw, Madden, Whitfield (Rydel 45), Quigley (Reid 79)
Subs Not Used: Hinchliffe, Barclay, Raikhy, Fish
Booked: Madden
Goals: Quigley 23, Whitfield 45+2

Referee: Tom Nield
Attendance: 11,183

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
7 Plymouth Argyle 46 80
8 Oxford United 46 76
9 Bolton Wanderers 46 73
10 Portsmouth 46 73
11 Ipswich Town 46 70
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