Bolton’s nearly three month wait for a win has finally come to an end!
A 2-1 win over fellow relegation strugglers, Rotherham, gives Bolton all three points for the first time since September.
Goals from Sammy Ameobi and Gary O’Neil were the difference between the two sides in what was quite an even Boxing Day match.
Rotherham offered little in attack during the game with their forward line led by former Bolton striker, Jamie Proctor. Despite a few periods of pressure, they never really tested Wanderers’ stopper, Ben Alnwick.
It’s certainly a relief for all involved in Bolton Wanderers who’ve endured a pretty torrid time of late.
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Wanderers lined-up in a conventional 4-4-2 formation with midfielder Jason Lowe filling in at right-back for most of the game. He was superb considering he was thrown in at the deep end in an unfamiliar position.
The game itself lacked quality. Apart from a few moments from Joe Williams, Gary O’Neil and Sammy Ameobi in particular, it didn’t make for pleasant viewing for either set of fans.
Finally having a genuine strike partnership up front in Doidge and Donaldson looked to be the answer for Bolton. The two strikers linked up well together and allowed more space for the wide players to make an impact.
Lo and behold, Wanderers led on 33 minutes through a brilliant low-driven shot from Ameobi, who fired the ball in from the left-wing. As soon as the ball was struck, it was destined to beat the keeper and nestle in the far corner.
Moments later however, Rotherham drew level after a free header for Will Vaulks, following a free-kick on the right-wing.
Bolton’s defence did little to cover themselves in glory for Rotherham’s goal and looked shaky throughout the game in truth.
Bolton went ahead again just after the hour mark through Gary O’Neil who spent the afternoon at right midfield. A Bolton cross was flapped away by the Rotherham goalkeeper and fell to O’Niel. After taking a touch to bring the ball under control, the midfielder picked out the far corner to beat about four defenders on the Rotherham goal-line.
The following half hour was a nervy affair to say the least.
Fears grew of Wanderers retreating further and further back into their own box, inviting pressure.
Thankfully however, Rotherham couldn’t mount a strong enough attack. They could well have snatched a point if it wasn’t for several of Bolton’s players putting their bodies on the line to block a goal-bound shot with only minutes to go.
A third goal late on would’ve killed the game off. Substitute Josh Magennis almost made it three with a thumping free-kick that would’ve torn the net if the Rotherham keeper hadn’t parried it away.
The win gives Bolton their first win in 13 games and lifts them up a place in the table to 22nd, only a point away from safety.
It’s a much-needed and welcome win that’ll hopefully lift the the mood around the club after a tough few weeks and months for players, staff and supporters alike.
Bolton continue their Championship campaign on Saturday, December 29 against Stoke, who lost 2-0 away at Birmingham today.
Phil Parkinson’s side will be hoping to build momentum after today’s win but we’ll have to wait and see whether today’s win was just a one-off.