Bolton Wanderers 1 v 0 Barrow AFC (Sky Bet League Two)
Bolton Wanderers welcomed Football League newcomes Barrow AFC to the University of Bolton Stadium this afternoon. Ian Evatt’s side looked to make it five consecutive victories after wins against Stevenage Borough, Mansfield Town, Southend United and Scunthorpe United as the Trotters move into ninth place in the Sky Bet League Two table.
Barrow who gained promotion into the Football League last season under current Trotters boss Ian Evatt, arrived at The University of Bolton Stadium full of confidance following a rare midweek away win against Oldham Athletic. On a sunny February afternoon it was the home side that started the stronger of the two sides and they continued to have most of the possession (72%) throughout the whole match.
The home side controlled the opening fifteen minutes of the match, having most of the possession whilst keeping the ball and passing it around the back four and into the midfield. However the Trotters failed to create any clear cut chances or test visiting goalkeeper Joel Dixon. Barrow AFC had a few moments on the counter attack but they failed to test Matt Gilks in the Bolton Wanderers goal.
Bolton Wanderers then started to increase the pressure on the visitors, winning a number of corners before the first attemot on goal arrived on twenty minutes. Declan John hit a right footed shot from outside the box, which was blocked by on loan Burnley centre-back Bobby Thomas who diverted the ball for another corner.
The Trotters continued to press and won another three corners in three minutes which all came to nothing, before Declan John sent across into the Barrow area on twenty-four minutes. Eoin Doyle met the cross but sent his header from the centre of the box is high and wide without troubling Joel Dixon in the visitors goal.
On thirty minutes, Lloyd Isgrove made an excellent run down the right-wing before cutting inside and passing the ball to Oladapo Afolayan who hit a left footed shot from outside the area which was blocked by the visitors defender.
In the closing minutes of the first-half the visitors started to get more into the game and on thirty-seven minutes, Neil Eardley found Scott Quigley just outside the visitors box but his left footed effort went high and wide of Matt Gilks right-hand post.
Just a minute later, Gethin Jones broke free in the middle of the park before he found Oladapo Afolayan just inside the visitors box, but his right footed shot was well saved in the centre of the goal by Joel Dixon.
On forty minutes, the visitors should have taken the lead when Scott Quigley crossed the ball into the Bolton area were Jason Taylor hit a left footed shot from very close range which was well saved by Matt Gilks to the bottom left-hand corner of the goal to leave the half-time score 0-0.
The second-half started much the same as the first with the home side controlling the possession and they have the first effort of the half on forty-seven minutes, as defender Alax Baptiste found Declan John just outside the box, but his right footed shot was blocked by the Barrow defence.
On fifty-two minutes, a Lloyd Isgrove corner found Gethin Jones on the right-hand side of the area, but his right footed shot was blocked by Bobby Thomas for another corner. The resulting corner found Isgrove who sent a cross into the visitors area which found Eoin Doyle, but his header from the centre of the box went wide of Dixon’s left post.
Just three minutes later and the Trotters had another effort at the visitors goal, when Antoni Sarcevic’s right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left was well saved in the bottom left corner of the goal by Joel Dixon. Bolton Wanderers were well on top as we reached the hour mark as Declan John had another left footed shot from outside the box which was again blocked by the visiting defence.
On sixty-three minutes, Oladapo Afolayan found Eoin Doyle in the middle of the penalty area, his right-footed shot looked to be heading for the top right-hand corner of the goal before Joel Dixon made an outstanding save to tip the ball away for a corner.
Bolton Wanderers substitute Nathan Delfouneso then went close on seventy-four minutes with a right footed shot from the left-hand side of the area which was well saved again by Joel Dixon in the Barrow goal.
Shaun Miller, came on as an eighty-first minute substitution for Eoin Doyle and wasted on time in getting into the action. Just two minutes after coming on to the pitch his right footed shot from close range was blocked by Bobby Thomas to stop a certain goal. Ian Evatt and the Bolton players all claimed for a penalty however the referee awarded a corner to the home side.
Bolton Wanderers took the lead in the ninety-third minute, when Arthur Gnahoua found Shaun Miller in the middle of the area and for the second game running he scored a late winner sending his right-footed shot into the top left-hand corner of the goal leaving Joel Dixon no chance, making the score 1-0.
Bolton Wanderers will now travel to Oldham Athletic in midweek before a visit to Valley Parade next weekend were they will have Bradford City as they look to extend their unbeaten run and confirm their place in the Sky Bet League Two play-offs.
Speaking after the match manager Ian Evatt said, “We probed all afternoon and eventually we got that one big chance and just as he did last week, Shaun Miller came off the bench to score late on with a great finish and that is why we make substitutions. The players are in a good place at the moment, their really positive & confidence is high but we’re still hungry.
We have got to keep working hard as we have two really difficult away games coming up in the next seven days at Oldham Athletic and Bradford City. However we will enjoy tonight because winning games is tough, especially when the opposition work as hard as Barrow did this afternoon. The Wanderers manager also paid tribute to his former club whose fortunes have improved under caretaker boss Rob Kelly.
I must pay credit to Barrow, they made it really difficult for us, got men behind the ball and their work ethic was incredible. You have to credit the opposition because they put in so much hard work and effort for Rob Kelly. He set his side up to make it really tough for us. I just said to the Barrow players that if they play like that for the rest of the season they will stay up and stay up comfortably.”
Bolton Wanderers – Gilks, Jones, Williams, Almeida-Santos, Baptiste, Sarcevic, Isgrove, John, Doyle, Lee, Afolayan (Subs) Delfouneso, Tutte, Miller, Gnahoua, Thompson, Jackson, Elbouzedi
Barrow AFC – Dixon, Brough, Taylor, Thomas, Jones, Ntlhe, Barry, Eardley, Quigley, James, Banks (Subs) Lillis, Kay, Goodrigde, Sea, Bramall, Devitt
Goals – (Bolton Wanderers) Miller (90+3)
Attendance – 0 (Behind Closed Doors)