Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Plymouth Argyle

  • March 12, 2022 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton suffered a first home defeat in eight games as Plymouth Argyle inflicted a potentially fatal blow to Wanderers' hopes of reaching the play-offs.

As had happened in Tuesday's draw with Morecambe, the Trotters were made to pay for a defensive lapse - only on this occasion they were unable to find that elusive equaliser that would have salvaged a point.

After conceding a soft corner through their own misplay, Jordan Houghton's delivery to the far post was headed in by a towering Macauley Gillesphey to give Argyle victory that moves them 10 points clear of Ian Evatt's side in 6th place.

Evatt made just one change to the side that started last time out as Jon Dadi Bodvarsson returned in attack, with Amadou Bakayoko dropping to the substitutes' bench.

The home side started the game brightly and fashioned all of the early opportunities, the first of which came from a set-play. Declan John and Oladapo Afolayan combined at a short corner and worked the ball to Aaron Morley, whose cross was flicked on by George Johnston but just too far ahead of an advancing Ricardo Almeida Santos.

The next sight of goal arrived with 18 minutes played, with Morley's corner glanced on by Bodvarsson but wide of the target.

Argyle's first chance came a minute later as Ryan Hardie's cross from the right picked out the run of Niall Ennis, who couldn't quite stretch enough to direct his attempt on goal.

Afolayan stung the gloves of Michael Cooper as Bolton launched attack midway through the half, while James Trafford made a comfortable save at the other end after James Wilson's quickly taken free-kick was sent goalwards by Hardie.

Bodvarsson headed a cross from Johnston inches over the top, Afolayan saw a strike deflected into the arms of Cooper, and Dion Charles saw an attempt charged down by James Bolton as the hosts continued to press as the clock ticked towards the half-hour.

Hardie worked a yard of space but could only shoot straight at Trafford as the half began to draw to a close, but the visitors did get themselves ahead two minutes before the break after Wanderers had conceded a corner in sloppy circumstances.

Houghton's delivery from the right caused momentary panic in the Bolton defence, allowing Gillesphey to gamble at the far post and bundle a header into the net to send more than 1,000 travelling supporters into celebration - with their side going in at the interval with a one-goal advantage.

There were no changes as the players returned for the second period, which began with Plymouth coming agonisingly close to a second goal.

Ennis outmuscled former Plymouth defender Will Aimson and cut the ball back for Joe Edwards, who stepped inside before seeing a shot cleared off the line by Santos.

Afolayan received a pass from John and played a one-two with Bodvarsson before seeing a deflected attempt parried behind by Cooper on 54 minutes, shortly before a tactical substitution saw Kieran Sadlier brought on in place of Johnston.

Sadlier took up a position behind Charles and Bodvarsson, with Afolayan, who had been playing in the hole, shifted out to the left-hand side and John dropping into the back-three.

Bolton were almost level within two minutes of that change as MJ Williams found himself in an unfamiliar left-sided position and crossing to Charles, whose header was somehow kept out by an instinctive save by Cooper at his near post.

More changes were to follow for the home side as Bakayoko and Elias Kachunga came on for Bodvarsson and Charles, and they were unfortunate not to get back on level terms within 60 seconds of those substututions.

Kachunga, who had been out of action since suffering a torn thigh against Hartlepool United back in January, rose at the far post to connect with a cross from Afolayan, only to see his header strike the base of the post and roll along the line before being cleared to safety.

Bakayoko was next to try his luck, volleying straight at Cooper as he met a cross from Sadlier, but there were to be no further goalmouth opportunities as Wanderers' play-off hopes crashed.

There was one further concern in the latter stages, too, as Marlon Fossey had to be withdrawn after receiving treatment on two separate occasions. That meant Bolton were forced to finish the game with 10 men, having already used all three of their permitted substitutions.

Defeat leaves Wanderers 10 points adrift of the final play-off place, with a vastly inferior goal difference and having played two games more.

They are back in action next Saturday when they face bottom club Crewe Alexandra at the Mornflake Stadium.

Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Johnston (Sadlier 59), Santos, Aimson, John, Morley, Williams, Fossey, Afolayan, Bodvarsson (Bakayoko 72), Charles (Kachunga 72)
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Amaechi, Thomason, Baptiste

Plymouth Argyle: Cooper, Wilson, Bolton, Gillesphey, Edwards, Broom (Pereira Camara 69), Houghton, Mayor, Grant (Sessegnon 81), Ennis (Jephcott 81), Hardie
Subs Not Used: Burton, Garrick, Randell, Crichlow
Goals: Gillesphey 43

Referee: Robert Lewis
Attendance: 16,078

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