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Manchester Evening News
Manchester Evening News
John McDougall

Toal showing, substitutes impact, Dixon - Four ups and two downs for Bolton from Barrow win

Bolton Wanderers secured their place in the last 16 of the Papa Johns Trophy with a 3-2 victory over League Two Barrow.

The Whites took the lead when Dapo Afolayan slotted home from a lovely ball from MJ Williams. They doubled their advantage soon after that when Kieran Sadlier put in a low cross for Jon Dadi Bodvarsson to tuck home.

But the visitors were handed a way back into the game when Joel Dixon could not hold onto Ben Whitfield's shot and Josh Kay eventually turned home. It gave the visitors a route back into the encounter.

READ MORE: Bolton Wanderers player ratings vs Barrow - Dapo Afolayan and Elias Kachunga good in victory

After the break, the visitors levelled as Niall Canavan nodded home from close range after Josh Gordon flicked on from a corner. However, the Whites went back ahead as Elias Kachunga slotted home after Afolayan's shot came off the post.

Despite late pressure from the Bluebirds, Wanderers hung on to book their place in the last 16 with a 3-2 victory. Here, we analyse the victory from a Wanderers perspective and pick out the ups and downs from the encounter.


Eoin Toal's best showing yet

Summer signing Toal has had limited outings so far for Wanderers since his summer move from Derry City. That has been down to both injuries for the Northern Irishman, as well as the form of the club's other defenders.

All three of his appearances so far have come in the Papa Johns Trophy. He operated on the right hand side of the back three against Barrow.

In the encounter, he completed his first full game for Bolton and showed glimpses of what he is capable of and why Wanderers made repeated bids for him in the summer. It is early days still in his Bolton career, but this was Toal's best showing yet.

Substitutes make impact again

For the second time in the space of four days, Bolton's bench made an impact on a game. On Saturday, Josh Sheehan and Sadlier provided the assists which helped secure three points against Fleetwood Town.

Last night, it was goals which came from the bench. Afolayan bagged the opener with one of, if not his maiden, touches of the game.

And it was followed up with Kachunga coming off the bench to net what proved to be the winning goal, being in the right place to follow up Afolayan's shot which rebounded off the post. Once again, the substitutes helped make the difference for Wanderers.

First half showing had Wanderers purring

Barrow may well be in the division below Bolton, but are going very well indeed in League Two. They sit fourth in that league and though Wanderers would have been favourites, taking on a team that is used to getting results can be a challenge.

But in the first half of the encounter in particular, Wanderers were at some of their dominant best. They were two up thanks to goals from Afolayan and Bodvarsson, but it could and perhaps should have been more.

It was Bolton at some of their fluid best, getting the ball on the deck and using aerial passes to great impact too. The margin of the lead at the break could and should have been more.

Passage to the last 16 and prize money

With the win, Wanderers progressed to the last 16 phase of the competition. The draw at that stage remains regionalised and teams Wanderers could face include Burton Albion, Lincoln City, Accrington Stanley, Salford City and Manchester United's under-21s.

The victory also saw the Whites pick up more prize money as their progress was rewarded. Some £20,000 was pocketed by securing passage to the last 16.

Wanderers are the highest ranked side left in the Northern section of the draw. There will not be any sides relishing taking on the Whites in this competition when the next round takes place in December.


Joel Dixon mistake

It has been a difficult 2022 for Joel Dixon on the pitch, having lost his place in the team to Manchester City loanee James Trafford at the start of the year. The City prospect is the club's number one and Dixon has been relegated to appearances in the cup competitions, it seems.

Though decent with distribution out from the back and it not really being too far away from Trafford in that respect, the former Barrow goalkeeper has a tendency to make errors and it often results in a goal conceded. This proved to be the case again against the Bluebirds.

Dixon spilled a shot he really ought to have kept hold of and it was duly punished. It gave Barrow a route back into the game and led to Bolton making much more hard work of the evening than they really needed to.

Kyle Dempsey injury

Kyle Dempsey had to go off momentarily when the game was not even a quarter of an hour old after he stayed down following a challenge. He came back on but then had to come off not long after the 20 minute mark.

Ian Evatt confirmed afterwards the midfielder had suffered a 'pretty nasty' ankle injury. Wanderers are waiting to learn the extent of the injury, but Evatt did not sound positive about it.

It has been a stop start career for Dempsey at Wanderers so far, with injuries playing a bit part in that. Hopefully the diagnosis on the latest setback is as positive as possible for the midfielder.

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