Bolton Wanderers 4-2 Fleetwood Town

  • April 30, 2022 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton finished the season in 9th position in League One after goals from Dion Charles (2), Declan John and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson gave them a 4-2 victory over Fleetwood Town.

Town, who went into the game with their status in the division not yet secure, took the lead in spectacular style when Barry Baggley curled in the opener on 17 minutes but Wanderers went in level at the break as Charles ended a run of 14 games for club and country without a goal by slotting past Alex Cairns.

A deflected effort from Declan John put the hosts ahead nine minutes after the restart, yet that wasn't the end for the Cod Army as they equalised 11 minutes from time when Joe Garner bundled home from close range to spark wild scenes in the away end.

The Trotters would go on to take all three points, though, as Charles scored his second of the afternoon with four minutes to play with a sliding challenge just inside the Fleetwood half that sent the ball looping up and over Cairns in the most bizarre fashion.

Bodvarsson would add a fourth in added time to seal the victory, with that final goal seeing Bolton leapfrog Portsmouth in the final standings to finish in 9th position.

Despite winning at Cheltenham Town last time out, Ian Evatt made two changes to his Wanderers side as George Thomason and Amadou Bakayoko took the places of Bodvarsson and the injured MJ Williams.

Fleetwood, with everything to play for, began strongly and forced the first save of the afternoon with 10 minutes on the clock as Danny Andrew's long-throw was flicked on by Garner and Callum Camps' close-range header was parried away by James Trafford.

Town did break the deadlock on 17 minutes, though, as Baggley received possession on the right flank, stepped inside a defender and curled a delicious left-footed strike into the top corner - with Trafford left clutching at thin air.

Camps, who came close earlier in the game, tried his luck again shortly before the half-hour, volleying over after the hosts had once again struggled to deal with a throw into their box, while Anthony Pilkington pulled a shot wide moments later.

Bolton's first real venture forward came on 31 minutes as Aaron Morley's delivery into the area was headed down by Bakayoko, but there was nobody available for the knock-down as Cairns gathered a loose ball at the second attempt.

Tom Clarke slid in to deny Charles a clear run on goal soon thereafter, but the Wanderers forward did end his goal drought two minutes later as he latched on to a ball from Bakayoko to run clean through and slot beyond Cairns at the near post to make it 1-1.

Bakayoko volleyed inches wide in the closing stages of the half, an effort which some in parts of the ground thought had ripped the net, but the two sides would ultimately go in level at the interval.

There were no changes as the players returned for the second period, which took just eight minutes for the scoreline to shift in Bolton's favour.

Standing over a throw-in, John combined with Afolayan before stepping inside from the left. After working his way towards the edge of the box, the wing-back took aim with his weaker right foot and found a way past Cairns with the aid of a deflection to make it 2-1.

Cian Hayes brought Trafford into action just before the hour as Fleetwood looked to get themselves back on level terms, but it was Bolton who continued to look the more likely as Afolayan saw a shot blocked by former Trotters loanee Toto Nsiala moments later.

Both sides made changes as the midway point of the half approached and it was the visitors who suddenly found that fresh impetus, with Garner denied on 79 minutes as his close-range effort was pushed behind by Trafford.

Garner did get himself on the scoresheet from the resulting corner, however, finding himself unmarked at the far post to nod in an equaliser and spark wild scenes amongst the 810 travelling supporters behind the goal.

At this stage, with Fleetwood level and Gillingham trailing at home to Rotherham United, Town were assured of safety by a single point, but their nerves increased four minutes from time as Bolton took the lead yet again.

With no apparent danger just yards inside the visiting half, Charles slid into a challenge which saw the ball loop up into the air and towards the Fleetwood goal. With Cairns way off his line, said ball travelled at speed and beyond the goalkeeper, bouncing six yards from the line before nestling in the net to make it 3-2.

Only goal difference at this point was keeping the Cod Army above the relegation zone and after premature cheers of a second Rotherham goal at Gillingham were soon hushed, news of the Millers doubling their lead at the MEMS Priestfield Stadium filtered through and celebrations began.

The away fans almost had more reason to celebrate when Danny Andrew struck the crossbar in the final minute of normal time, but it was the Bolton faithful who then had more reason to cheer as Bodvarsson struck a fourth in the fifth of six added minutes for stoppages.

Urged to shoot from 25 yards, Morley's effort was straight at Bodvarsson, who took the ball under control before rifling home first-time to seal a 4-2 victory.

Those three points, along with their last-gasp goal, saw Wanderers rise above Portsmouth and into 9th position on goals scored, while Fleetwood will be playing League One football next season after they survived on goal difference ahead of Gillingham, who drop into League Two along with Doncaster Rovers, AFC Wimbledon and Crewe Alexandra.

Bolton supporters will now need to wait until June 23 to discover the identity of their next league opponents, with the 2022/23 campaign set to begin on July 30 - exactly three months from now.

Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Johnston, Aimson, Jones, John, Morley, Thomason (Baptiste 88), Sadlier (Kachunga 66), Afolayan, Bakayoko (Bodvarsson 66), Charles
Subs Not Used: Dixon, Amaechi, Gordon, Conway
Goals: Charles 37,86, John 53, Bodvarsson 90+6

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Macadam, Nsiala, Clarke (Jules 77), Andrew, Baggley (Batty 66), Boyle (Morris 90+2), Camps, Hayes, Garner, Pilkington
Subs Not Used: O'Hara, Harrop, Butterworth, Bird
Booked: Boyle, Garner
Goals: Baggley 17, Garner 79

Referee: Martin Coy
Attendance: 16,886

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