Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Stevenage

  • October 03, 2023 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton won back-to-back league games for the first time since August, beating Stevenage 3-2 at the Toughsheet Community Stadium.

Since starting the campaign with victories over Lincoln City, Cheltenham Town and Fleetwood Town, Wanderers had been consistently inconsistent during a run which also saw them take in fixtures in both the Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy.

They led three times against a spirited Boro on Tuesday evening, with Dion Charles' 13th-minute penalty cancelled out seven minutes later by Jamie Reid, and although Jack Iredale restored the hosts' advantage four minutes after the break, Reid would level proceedings again on 65 minutes - this time from the penalty spot.

Josh Sheehan turned out to be the matchwinner, though, expertly taking down a ball from Iredale before finding the net with 20 minutes to play.

Ian Evatt made one change to the side that started at Port Vale on Saturday as George Thomason returned from the suspension, with Aaron Morley dropping to the substitutes' bench.

Victor Adeboyejo wasn't deemed fit enough to return from the knee injury which kept him out of the trip to Vale Park, so Dan Nlundulu partnered Charles in attack as both Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Cameron Jerome were kept in reserve.

A minute of applause was observed prior to kick-off in memory of Francis Lee, who passed away on Monday at the age of 79 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Once the action had got under way, it was the visitors who had the first sight of goal as Reid gambled on a long ball and crossed into dangerous territory, with Aaron Pressley just unable to stretch enough to get a telling touch with less than three minutes played.

Stevenage pushed forward again shortly thereafter, with Carl Piergianni and Dan Sweeney causing a nuisance in the Wanderers box from set-plays, but the home side managed to survive with their clean sheet intact.

Bolton's first attempt on goal arrived with nine minutes on the clock as Charles and Randell Williams combined to tee up Josh Sheehan, whose effort from just outside the area flashed wide of Taye Ashby-Hammond's post.

Wanderers were then awarded a penalty as Iredale was hauled down by Dan Butler, allowing Charles to convert for his eighth of the season - breaking the deadlock to give the home side a lead against the run of play.

The visitors responded well and were almost back on level terms within three minutes as Sweeney found himself on the end of a cutback from Pressley, only to see his strike come back off the post.

They got the goal their play deserved on 20 minutes, however, as a one-two between Charles and Nlundulu was intercepted. Jake Forster-Caskey played a long ball deep into Bolton territory where Reid shrugged off the attention of Eoin Toal before slotting beyond Nathan Baxter for 1-1.

The away side almost found themselves clean through again in similar circumstances just three minutes later, but Will Forrester was alert to the danger on this occasion to block the run of Reid and keep the scores level.

Reid was involved again moments later, this time heading over from a corner, and it wasn't until five minutes before the break that the next chance arrived as Pressley headed towards goal only to be denied by an offside flag.

That was how things would end going into the interval, after which Bolton returned unchanged, while Stevenage made one change as Finley Burns came on in place of Terence Vancooten, who had earlier received treatment following a collision with Thomason.

Wanderers began brightly following the restart, with Williams drifting in from the left-hand side before testing the handling skills of Ashby-Hammond, who parried behind for a corner.

From the resulting delivery, Iredale broke free from his marker to connect with a Sheehan cross, making no mistake in making it 2-1 from close-range.

Nlundulu and Kyle Dempsey combined to provide Josh Dacres-Cogley with a shot at goal on 53 minutes, only for the attempt to be blocked, moments before Forrester headed over the top from a Thomason cross.

Nlundulu's evening came to an end on the hour as he was replaced by Cameron Jerome, who might have wished he'd have remained on the sidelines as, just three minutes later, he was penalised for a foul inside his own area and referee Josh Smith pointed to the spot.

Reid, who had levelled at 1-1 earlier in the game, repeated the feat from 12 yards, sending Baxter the wrong way to bring the scores to 2-2.

The Boro goalscorer was booked three minutes later after being found guilty of time-wasting by the officials, while Dan Sweeney would soon follow after a foul on Charles.

Stevenage were beginning to tire as the clock entered the final 20 minutes, which was exactly when Bolton went ahead for a third time as Sheehan took down a searching ball from Iredale, shifted his weight and slotted past Ashby-Hammond for 3-2.

Ashby-Hammond prevented it from turning into four when he raced off his line to thwart Dempsey on 77 minutes, and the visitors served a reminder that they were still in the game when Iredale was required to prevent Pressley from going through on Baxter at the other end.

Baxter was required three minutes later, producing an outstanding reaction stop to deny Forster-Caskey a certain equaliser, and but for a couple of late half-chances for the visitors, it would prove a vital moment as Bolton saw out eight minutes of added time to claim all three points.

Victory moves Ian Evatt's side up into 3rd place in the League One table, with another home outing soon upon them when Carlisle United provide the opposition this coming Saturday.

Bolton Wanderers: Baxter, Iredale, Toal, Forrester, Williams (Ashworth 86), Thomason, Dempsey, Dacres-Cogley, Sheehan, Nlundulu (Jerome 60), Charles (Bodvarsson 84)
Subs Not Used: Coleman, Morley, Khumbeni, Matheson
Booked: Thomason, Iredale, Jerome
Goals: Charles 13(pen), Iredale 49, Sheehan 70

Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, Wildin, Sweeney, Piergianni (N Thompson 83), Butler, L Thompson (Freeman 74), Vancooten (Burns 45), Reid, Roberts (MacDonald 87), Forster-Caskey (List 86), Pressley
Subs Not Used: Hegyi, Hemmings
Booked: Reid, Sweeney
Goals: Reid 20,65(pen)

Referee: Josh Smith
Attendance: 17,997

Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Portsmouth 19 42
2 Bolton Wanderers 18 39
3 Oxford United 18 36
4 Stevenage 20 36
5 Peterborough United 19 35
View Full Standings >>


Who is Bolton's 2022/23 Player of the Year?
25.9% Conor Bradley
22.3% James Trafford
20.09% Dion Charles
10.05% Kyle Dempsey
6.82% Aaron Morley
6.45% Ricardo Almeida Santos
3.5% George Johnston
3.32% Eoin Toal
1.01% Kieran Lee
0.55% Gethin Jones