In Stevenage’s second trip to the North West of the week, Boro fell to a 1-0 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday as an early strike from Declan John proved enough in an entertaining contest which could have gone either way...
Despite falling behind after just seven minutes, Boro committed men forward all throughout the contest and gave the home team Whites a real run for their money, right until the final whistle.
Alex Revell names two changes to the team that won at Tranmere on Tuesday night, as Danny Newton’s match-winning goal during the week saw him rewarded with a return to the starting line-up in-place of Charlie Carter, whilst Ben Coker came in for Joe Martin.
The first chance of the game fell to Norris, who took down a chipped pass by Lines only to take the effort on the half volley and fire high and wide. It was a promising start for Stevenage though, who were pressing the Whites all over the pitch with plenty of vigour.
Just a few minutes later, it was Stevenage again on the attack as Coker swung a superb cross towards Norris at the back-post, who couldn’t get his shot away and instead opted to play it to Aitchison, whose left footed strike was blocked by a Bolton defender.
Bolton’s Maddison had an effort of his own on six minutes, shooting over the bar after making his way into position to strike.
During an action-packed opening to the contest, it was Bolton who opened the scoring after 7 minutes as Declan John fired in an unstoppable shot with his right foot from the edge of the box to make it 1-0 to the hosts.
Doyle headed into the side netting moments after from a corner, as Stevenage looked to gain some control to the game.
A fine Gilks save denied Aithcison from levelling up on 10 minutes, as Lines played a brilliant pass through to the winger, whose first-time effort from a tight angle was stopped by the feet of the Bolton goalkeeper.
Alex Baptiste was next to threaten either team’s target, after making his way up-field and skewing his opportunistic shot wide with Stockdale rooted in his goal.
After a difficult spell during the middle of the first half, where the Whites were able to dominate the ball, Boro got back into it and continued to look a threat around the half hour mark, with fine margins in the opposition’s box not going Alex Revell’s side way.
Neither team created any chances of note during the latter stages of the first half and despite the deficit, Stevenage would have been pleased with their performance going into the break.
Bolton had a glorious chance to extend their lead just two minutes into the second half, with centre-back Santos rising highest from 6 yards out only to head over the bar following Afolayan’s chipped cross towards the back-post.
It was Stevenage though who looked the more assured following the early Bolton chance, and if for some better decisions at the crucial moment, could have found an equaliser early in the second half.
One such moment came on 55 minutes, when Stevenage won the ball high up the pitch, but after Lines found Aitchison on the left-hand side of the box, the Scotsman took too long to get his shot or pass away and was crowded out by men in white.
Maddison almost burst through the lines and into a shooting position inside the Boro box on the hour mark, but for Prosser’s timely intervention to deny the Charlton loanee.
Lines shaped a shot from the edge of the box wide two minutes later, as Stevenage continued to look the most likely goalscorers in the second half.
Luke Norris hit a volley wide with 68 minutes played, after connecting with Baptiste’s clearing header but was unable to find the target as his shot skewed wide. In a rare Bolton foray forward, Isgrove forced a routine stop from Stockdale on 72 minutes and with just over 10 minutes to go, Bolton were down to 10 men as MJ Williams was dismissed for a late lunge on Tom Pett in the middle of the pitch.
Looking to make their advantage count, Stevenage swarmed forward for the final stages of the match and with 7 minutes remaining, Norris was able to meet Coker’s cross but could only divert his header towards the Whites keeper.
Then, with just one minute of regulation time left, Boro’s best chance of the match came and went as Prosser flicked Lines’ corner towards the far post where Stevens’ was lurking, but just missed the all-important connection with his attempted diving header.
Boro had another two chances during the four minutes of added time, Coker flashed an effort wide before Norris had a close-range strike blocked from just a few yards out. In the end, it was the home side that took home the points as Boro’s valiant performance came up empty.