Bolton Wanderers Lose Ground In Promotion Race Following Goalless Draw

Play-off chasing Stevenage held promotion hopefuls Bolton Wanderers to an entertaining 0-0 draw at The Lamex on Good Friday.

Both sides came into the game hoping to bounce back from tricky periods with Boro dropping out of the top six following a difficult spell of form, while Bolton were hoping to avoid back-to-back defeats after they lost narrowly at Pride Park last time out.

Stevenage boss Steve Evans watched the match from the stands as he served an extension to his three-match touchline ban for an accumulation of yellow cards. He recalled star striker Jamie Reid to the starting lineup after his debut goal for Northern Ireland in midweek.

Ian Evatt made two changes to the Bolton team that faced Derby County before the international break with Will Forrester brought in at centre-back and former Premier League target man Cameron Jerome played from the off for the first time this season.

It was Stevenage who looked most threatening in the opening exchanges, with their direct approach causing trouble for the Bolton backline. Finley Burns headed over from a corner after just two minutes and Ben Thompson spurned a good opportunity just a few moments later.

However, Bolton Wanderers quickly found their feet and dominated possession in the midfield, creating their first opportunity after 10 minutes. Jerome beat Dan Butler to the ball following a lobbed pass. He dinked it over goalkeeper Taye Ashby-Hammond but couldn’t get to the ball to tap it home, a frustrating moment for the 37-year-old who is still searching for his first goal in League One this season.

By the 25th minute, the visitors we’re by far the superior side and nearly capitalised on their dominance through Forrester. The defender headed onto the post after not being picked up on a corner.

Other than some long-range strikes from Butler for Stevenage and Josh Sheehan for Bolton, there were no other chances of note in the first 45 minutes as both teams were perhaps cautious not to go behind heading into the break.

A similar trend continued at the start of the second half as it became more of a scrap, with several fouls disrupting any kind of momentum for either side. There were huge shouts for a penalty from the away end on 54 minutes as a Nathanael Ogbeta cross seemed to strike Butler on the arm, but it was quickly waved away by the referee.

In the 68th minute, arguably the best moment of the game occurred as Reid found himself through on goal after a mix-up at the back for Bolton Wanderers. The 29-year-old appeared to be pulled to the ground by Eoin Toal but the referee was having none of it, much to the frustration of the 6,200-strong Boro faithful.

It was still Stevenage who were still well in the ascendancy going into the closing stages. Evans’ men created their best chance of the afternoon with seven minutes to play as Jordan Roberts pinched the ball from Toal. He squared it to Thompson who simply had to score but scuffed his effort and it was well blocked.

In the succeeding minutes, the game seemed to fizzle out. The home boss made some defensively-minded substitutions late on to kill the game and ensure his side walked away with a good point. Butler did have an ambitious long-range effort blocked in added time but a draw was probably the fair result with both teams just lacking that final bit of quality to win the game.

It’s a result that is not ideal nor a disaster for Stevenage, keeping them in touch with the play-off places. Evans will be hoping they can cap off a successful Easter weekend when they travel to The Valley to face Charlton Athletic on Easter Monday.

As for Bolton Wanderers, they lose valuable ground in the race for automatic promotion as Derby’s 1-0 win today sees them move six clear of Evatt’s side. The Whites face an in-form Reading at the Toughsheet Community Stadium in three days’ time.

There’s a good chance that supporters will be treated to two further matches containing these two teams if they were to finish third and sixth in League One as they would meet in the play-offs in just over a month, but there is a lot of football to be played before then.

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