Fleetwood Town fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bolton Wanderers on Saturday afternoon.
Despite Town having the lion share of the possession, it was Bolton who took the lead through Chris O’Grady just before the half hour – the forward took full advantage of a loose back pass to slot the ball home from close range.
Daryl Murphy doubled Wanderers’ lead with just over ten minutes left in the first half, but the visitors got one back with minutes left on the clock through Josh Morris, and nearly equalised at the death through fellow substitute Ashley Hunter.
Fleetwood started off the quickest of the two sides, with Wes Burns and Paddy Madden looking threatening in a lively opening ten minutes.
Burns was enjoying acres of space down the right flank and when he thought he was one on one with the Bolton keeper, Wanderers defender Jake Wright brought him down just outside the box – resulting in the centre-half picking up an early yellow card.
Barton’s men were finding pockets of space in between Bolton’s back line, and when Jordan Rossiter found Madden, he looked to find the corner of the net, however the Irishman's effort was well blocked by Yoan Zouma.
Thibaud Verlinden had the hosts first shot of the game midway through the first half. The Stoke City loanee ran at Lewie Coyle before pulling the trigger – which saw his shot deflect off the right back, out for a corner kick.
Bolton had another chance moments later. Joe Dodoo darted past Danny Andrew on the left flank and picked out Verlinden on the edge of the box. The midfielder’s shot sailed high into the away end of the ground. A good chance.
Keith Hill’s side made their pressure count when O’Grady took advantage of a loose back pass from Australian international Harry Souttar. The striker was the first to react, with Alex Cairns not being able to keep his effort from six yards out.
Murphy doubled the Trotters’ lead when he went around Cairns and calmly slotted it home to leave the Cod Army a mountain to climb at the break.
Fleetwood started off the second half well, and when Coyle found a yard of space, he struck the ball well on his weaker foot, only to see it go marginally wide of the top corner. Close to a first goal for Town.
Barton made three changes on the hour mark with Madden, Burns and Rossiter coming off. Hunter, Morris and Conor McAleny were sent out to change the score line in Greater Manchester.
The trio did make an impact, but with one loose touch in the middle of the park, Bolton were through on goal with Dennis Politic having only Cairns to beat. The keeper got an all important touch on the ball.
Joe Dodoo picked out O’Grady inside the 18 yard box and the striker thought he had scored his second of the match. He was denied by a fantastic save from Cairns, giving Town hope with 15 minutes left on the clock.
The goal did come with five minutes to go. Morris latched onto the loose ball on the edge of Bolton’s penalty area, and guided his shot into the corner past Matthews. A great finish.
The fourth official indicated that there would be five minutes additional time, and with Keith Hill’s side holding on, Town thought they had levelled proceedings right at the death, but someone Matthews got both hands on Andrew's late header from a corner.
A break from league action coming up, with a trip to Barnet next up for Joey Barton's side in the Emirates FA Cup.
Bolton XI: Matthews (GK), Emmanuel, Lowe ©, Wright, Murphy, O’Grady, Chicksen, Verlinden (Politic 55’ – Graham 89’), Dodoo, Zouma.
Subs not used: Alexander, Weir, Hall, Boom, Senior.
Fleetwood XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Souttar, Dunne, Andrew, Rossiter (McAleny 60’), Coutts ©, Dempsey, Burns (Morris 60’), Madden (Hunter 60’), Evans.
Subs not used: Crellin (GK), Clarke, Biggins, Mooney.