Bolton show character to stay well placed in promotion picture


Phil Parkinson was Manager of the Month for August and October

I KNOW it’s scant consolation for Bury fans, but Sheffield United’s last-gasp winner over the Shakers on Tuesday night kept BOLTON outside League One’s automatic promotion places.

Despite winning 1-0 at home to Coventry, third-placed Wanderers remain behind the Blades on goal difference as they beat Bury by the same scoreline. Bolton got themselves back near the top of the table with a seven-match winning streak and although the Trotters then lost at Cheltenham (Checkatrade Trophy) and Peterborough, they have responded with back-to-back home wins over Millwall and Coventry.

Josh Vela and Tom Thorpe scored either side of the break on Saturday for a 2-0 victory, before Zach Clough’s sixth goal of the season proved enough to beat fifth-bottom Coventry.

Lee Burge denied Gary Madine an early opener but on 11 minutes Madine flicked on a goal-kick for Clough to lob Burge with a well-taken volley that went in off the post. Clough should have doubled Bolton’s lead while Sammy Ameobi was denied after the break.

Clough then curled a free-kick against the post, but Wanderers were indebted to keeper Ben Alwnick. The summer signing was making his second league start after replacing the injured Mark Howard and he tipped over a shot by Ruben Lameiras before turning wide a low strike by Ben Stevenson to help Wanderers keep another clean sheet.

Manager Phil Parkinson said: “First half we were great and probably should have scored more. Some of the football we played was top class. Second half we started slowly, were a bit sloppy in some areas, and it gave Coventry a lift. But you can’t fault the determination and the spirit of the lads. When we weren’t playing great we put our bodies on the line to block shots and stop crosses.

“When it got through the back four and the midfield, the keeper pulled off some great saves as well, so there were a lot of good attributes in the second half but, equally, we’ve got to learn the lessons from it as well.

“You can’t afford to start a half slowly, like we did. But the character shown, to get the result, was excellent, because Coventry, I feel, are a team that are in a false position. I saw them play (league leaders) Scunthorpe and I thought they should have won the game (lost 1-0).

“They had a bad result on Saturday (lost 4-1 at Oxford) so there was always going to be some kind of response from them. We knew that we’d have to be at our best to win the game. First half we were, second half we dropped – but in saying that, we still had chances in the second period as well.”

Saturday sees Bolton visit mid-table Northampton, who suffered a third straight defeat on Tuesday night, losing 1-0 at fourth-placed Bradford. Wanderers can then strike a psychological blow against Sheffield United as they host their potential promotion rivals in the FA Cup second round a week on Sunday (2pm kick-off).