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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John McDougall

Afolayan, substitutes impact, comeback - Three ups & one down from Bolton's win over Accrington

Bolton Wanderers climbed back into the League One play-off places after a stunning comeback victory against Accrington Stanley.

Shaun Whalley's effort put the hosts ahead early in the first half. Kyle Dempsey had a pair of efforts, one from a free kick, saved by Toby Savin, while Dion Charles saw a goalbound rebound blocked by Mitch Clark.

After the break, Wanderers went two behind when George Johnston headed past James Trafford inadvertantly to double Stanley's lead, before Ricardo Santos headed off the line from Whalley. Wanderers got back into the game thanks to Harvey Rodgers putting through his own net.

READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers player ratings vs Accrington Stanley - Dapo Afolayan great in comeback victory

But Dapo Afolayan completed the comeback with a marvellous solo effort to put the Whites in the lead. It proved to be the winner as Wanderers secured their first League One win and indeed goals in the division since the start of October to move back into the division's play-off places with the 3-2 comeback victory.

Here, we analyse the game from a Wanderers perspective and pick out the ups and downs for the Whites from the clash on the road.


Thrilling comeback away from home

Wanderers nearly went 3-0 down before making their remarkable comeback. Santos headed off the line from Whalley to deny the hosts a three goal advantage which could have proved too much.

But Wanderers fought back in some style to show they rarely know when they are beaten. It is something they have done many times under Ian Evatt over the past couple of seasons.

Being on the road at a type of ground and team that Wanderers tend to have problems with on the road is even more positive. It is a big win for the Whites and potentially one of the most important three points of the season so far, all things considered.

Substitutes make difference

It was not long after Wanderers had gone 2-0 down and Santos had made a goalline clearance when Evatt summoned reinforcements from the bench. Jack Iredale, George Thomason and Elias Kachunga came on.

Not only did Wanderers switch formation to 4-3-3, all of the trio made a big impact on the result. Iredale delivered the cross which led to Wanderers halving the deficit and was a big threat down the left flank.

Both Kachunga and Thomason provided assists for Lee and Afolayan respectively. The changes Evatt made after 50 minutes all made a big impact on the encounter and shows the strength in depth in the Bolton squad.

Afolayan shows unplayable form

Last season's top scorer has not quite shown the form of last season, particularly in the first half of the previous campaign. Afolayan has also had to make do with time on the bench of late, but has conducted himself superbly in that time.

Afolayan was handed another start against Accrington, initially in the unfamiliar left wing-back role. He did alright in the position, but he truly showed his form back in his best position on left hand side of the attack when Bolton changed formation.

He was back to some of his sparkling best against Stanley, particularly after the break when he was unplayable. The winning goal was the least he deserved and drew hallmarks with some of his strikes from last season.


Poor goals conceded

Wanderers certainly gave themselves work to do to come back and win three points. As mentioned before, they were fortunate to Santos they did not end up conceded three before the hour mark.

Evatt admitted Wanderers started 'abysmally' and the first goal was evidence of that. Joe Pritchard lifted the ball over the midfield and picked out a free Whalley as the defence backpedalled.

And Wanderers failed to successfully deal with a throw in as Johnston inadvertantly headed past Trafford. Bolton still boast League One's best defensive record, but the Whites conceded goals that had errors cropping up in them and felt preventable.

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