Rotherham United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • January 01, 2022 | By Chris Mann
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Eoin Doyle provided a timely reminder of his goalscoring instincts, netting his eighth of the season as Bolton fell to defeat at Rotherham United.

Doyle, who has been heavily linked with a move back to his native Ireland this past week, faces increased competition following the arrival of Dion Charles and responded in perfect fashion - ending Wanderers' club-record equalling run of six away league games without a goal.

His strike had drawn the Trotters level just two minutes after Michael Smith had given the Millers a first-half lead, but it was Smith who had the final word as he scored his second of the afternoon 16 minutes from time to give the home side all three points.

After seeing fixtures against Wycombe Wanderers, Morecambe and Burton Albion postponed due to reasons relating to COVID-19, Ian Evatt made three changes to his Bolton team as they stepped out for the first time in three weeks.

Alex Baptiste, MJ Williams and Kieran Lee all dropped out having featured against Accrington Stanley on December 11, with Will Aimson, Nathan Delfouneso and Ricardo Almeida Santos all stepping in.

Both sides had early opportunities, with Wanderers striking first as Elias Kachunga cut inside from the right and fed Doyle, whose strike was narrowly wide of Viktor Johansson's goal.

Rotherham's first sight of goal came with 14 minutes on the clock as Dan Barlaser's cross to the far post picked out an unmarked Michael Ihiekwe. He took one touch to control before setting his sights on the far corner, only for Adam Senior to put his body on the line and make an outstanding block.

The visitors were soon back on the front foot as Oladapo Afolayan found space to cross from the left, with Doyle forcing a smart reaction save out of Johanssson as he flicked the ball goalwards.

A challenge on Afolayan went unpunished midway through the half just as he looked set to run clear on goal, moments before Declan John was penalised for a foul at the other end which resulted in Evatt being shown a yellow card for his protestations against both decisions.

John was soon involved at the other end, pouncing on a poor clearance and sending a strike towards goal that was just deflected wide of the target by Richard Wood.

Wanderers then had a two-on-one chance as Doyle burst away from Rarmani Edmonds-Green, but he opted for goal when Afolayan was better positioned in the middle and was left frustrated when his attempt was deflected behind.

That frustration was compounded moments later as Smith rose highest inside the Trotters box to head past Joel Dixon and give Rotherham a lead with only five minutes of the half to play.

But Bolton, who hadn't scored in a club-record equalling six away league games, were back on level terms almost immediately as George Johnston's ball from the left found Doyle, whose shot on the turn was too hot for Johansson to handle as the scores were levelled at 1-1.

Johansson went some way towards making amends by saving from Thomason in added time, ensuring his team went in all-square at the break.

There were no changes to either side as the players returned for the second period, which took a while to spring into life.

In fact, it wasn't until the hour that the first shooting opportunity arose, with Kachunga racing away from two Rotherham defenders before pulling a shot wide of the near post.

Johansson parried a goalbound effort from John behind moments later, while Smith forced Dixon into action at the other end as he connected with a cross from Shane Ferguson.

Ferguson was involved again soon thereafter, with Freddie Ladapo this time the recipient of a cross before he angled a drive over the top from an acute angle.

Ladapo was then denied by Dixon as the clock approached the final 20 minutes, before the Wanderers goalkeeper rose to his feet to make an outstanding save with his body from Edmonds-Green's follow-up.

Dixon was beaten on 74 minutes, however, as Chiedozie Ogbene's cross found Smith, who notched his second of the afternoon with a routine close-range header.

A flurry of substitutions and yellow cards ensued as the latter stages became a battle which the visitors were struggling to win, but they did fashion two glorious chances in stoppage time.

First, Afolayan found space for a shot that was spilled by Johansson, only for substitute Harry Brockbank to volley high into the stand on the rebound.

Then, with the final kick of the game, Johnston's long-throw found a way into the path of Afolayan, who couldn't keep his close-range volley down, with referee Eltringham blowing for full-time immediately afterwards.

Defeat for Bolton sees them drop one place to 16th in the League One table. Their next outing comes at The Suit Direct Stadium this coming Tuesday, when they face Hartlepool United for a place in the quarter-finals of the Papa John's Trophy.

Rotherham United: Johansson, Edmonds-Green, Wood, Ihiekwe, Barlaser, Ogbene, Rathbone (Lindsay 90+3), Wiles (Sadlier 62), Ferguson, Smith, Ladapo (Kayode 73)
Subs Not Used: Vickers, Harding, Grigg, Bola
Booked: Ogbene, Edmonds-Green
Goals: Smith 40,74

Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, John (Gordon 85), Aimson, Santos, Senior (Brockbank 77), Thomason, Johnston, Kachunga, Delfouneso, Afolayan, Doyle (Bakayoko 71)
Subs Not Used: Gilks, Baptiste, Tweedley, Pettifer
Booked: Afolayan, Dixon, Santos
Goals: Doyle 42

Referee: Geoff Eltringham
Attendance: 9,736

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