Bolton Wanderers secured a dramatic late but fully deserved three points with a 2-1 stoppage time win on the road against Fleetwood Town.
Owen Beck, making his first League One start, saw a great opportunity go wide early on at Highbury Stadium. Despite looking the better side early on, Wanderers went behind as a Carlos Mendes Gomes strike from outside the box went into the top corner past James Trafford.
It proved to be the two crucial moments of the first half, as Wanderers failed to take their opportunity when it came and the Cod Army took theirs. Despite plenty of promising play, the Whites went in 1-0 down at the break.
READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers player ratings vs Fleetwood Town - Dapo Afolayan, Kieran Sadlier & Conor Bradley great
After half-time, Charles fired an effort over and Shaun Rooney was booked after Beck went down clutching his face, which was followed by both sets of players having to be separated. A flurry of chances followed for the Whites, including for Charles near the six yard box as he could not connect with a cross, while Afolayan's low cross from a yard out would have been a goal if anyone had got a touch on it.
But Conor Bradley struck five minutes from the end to finish off Kieran Sadlier's great work on the left flank, the former Rotherham United man putting in a low effort to the back post for the Liverpool loanee to fire home. And Dapo Afolayan fired home late on from Josh Sheehan's cross to seal the three points and spark jubilant scenes in the away end.
After the game, Wanderers boss Ian Evatt spoke to the press and here's his immediate reaction.
How are you after that?
“I’m delighted. I think that’s the best we’ve played for a long time, probably since that run of four successive wins, I thought we were excellent. I thought we completely controlled and dominated the game.
“The goal was massively against the run of play, an excellent finish from a good player, but the way we kept on probing, the way we stuck to our principles, the way we constantly asked questions, and yes, we missed chances. We all know the scoreline flattered them today, but it was the way and the mentality and the mindset of the players to not feel sorry for themselves, to get the ball back, go again, stay positive, keep the positive messaging, keep reinforcing what we’re trying to do and eventually we got exactly what we deserved.”
You looked frustrated at the number of chances that went begging?
“Some of that football was exceptional, you have to remember we’re away from home against a team that’s only lost four games this season and we’ve completely dominated the game, from start to finish in my opinion.
“Some of our football in the second half, it was almost like they had nine or 10 men. We had complete control, we were camped in their final third, but we stayed positive, we stayed patient, we kept on probing.
“Yes, we missed chances and of course they’ll start to go in, I have no doubt about that, but today it was about the result, it was about the performance and I thought our performance was excellent.”
Was it about belief as well in what you’re trying to achieve and the way you want to play?
“The players have a massive amount of belief and you know I am not short of that. They work hard on mindset and focus on the things we can affect.
“Our fans are amazing away from home and the effect they have on games can be incredible but sometimes it can be the other way. The expectancy at this club is huge and players have to block that out when things are not going so well and stay positive, keep believing. Eventually today we kept knocking and blew the house down.
“I am pleased for the fans, to come here and take over a stadium like they did today, they deserve comebacks and performances like that.
“We are all immensely proud to be a part of Bolton Wanderers and it was a very good birthday present, I must say."
The substitutes appeared to change the game, particularly when you introduced Sadlier?
“I don’t think it did change the game – I think we were completely dominant. And because we were in that situation we were able to swap wing-backs to one that has less defensive responsibility, more or less an out and out winger. We can shift into 4-3-3 at times and that is what I am saying about being able to shift and give the opposition different looks during games. We are adaptable.
“Sads gave us that option and I am delighted for them all – Sads, Jon, Josh – and it shows them all that if they stay together as a squad, stay positive whether they are starting or not, they can affect games."
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