One suspected Peterborough United might prove to be ideal opponents for a team chasing a place in the Championship.
There was of course pre-match talk of pooping a promotion party, but the team with nothing to play for won nothing of note during the game and deservedly left with absolutely nothing. Bolton were too strong, too well-organised and too committed for a team who have been, in the words of their manager, average for most of this League One campaign.
Posh boss Grant McCann was still disappointed with his side’s rather meek surrender in the second-half though when Bolton scored two of their three goals and could easily have added more. ‘Lacking in hunger and desire,” McCann moaned and not for the first time this season.
Home ‘keeper Mark Howard could have produced an armchair and slippers such was his untroubled comfort for virtually the entire game.
Posh needed to create a small slice of club history to deny Bolton their automatic promotion. Never before had they won at Bolton in a Football League venue and it never looked like happening today.
Bolton are way off Sheffield United’s standard and they’ll have their work cut out to survive in the Championship without a huge investment, but they are rock solid defensively with just enough attacking potency to win tight matches.
And all that was clear to see in an opening 45 minutes played at a slow pace in blustery conditions.
Posh passed the ball about neatly at times, but as soon as they went forward they floundered, until the latter stages when a Tom Nichols’ burst into the penalty area was halted by a strong Mark Beevers’ challenge. Some Posh fans (but not all) watching live on TV felt it was a foul, but hesitancy on the part of Nichols was also to blame.
Nichols also saw a flick at goal blocked by a defender after Lewis Freestone had knocked down a Leo Da Silva Lopes cross, but Bolton were well worth their interval lead.
Jem Karacan was the scorer with a terrific first time finish on 22 minutes following a right-wing cross. It was almost 2-0 on the stroke of half-time, but Posh ‘keeper Luke McGee made a fine save with his feet from Gary Madine’s low drive.
Posh did well to restrict Bolton to one corner in the first-half such is the set-piece prowess of the home side, but conceding one seven minutes after the break (wrongly as it happens thanks to one of a weak set of officials) proved fatal as David Wheater, a centre-back with more goals than most Posh forwards this season, converted from close range to properly start the promotion party. Bolton won two headers comfortably before Wheater arrived to power home his ninth goal of the campaign.
And that was pretty much that. Bolton relaxed and started to play pretty well. McGee saved well from Mark Beevers before Adam Le Fondre scored a third goal 14 minutes from time with a clinical strike after young Posh substitute Andrea Borg had been dispossessed.
One positive for Posh was the return from injury of both Ryan Tafazolli and Gwion Edwards. They’ve been missed and can be confident of another season at the ABAX Stadium - too many others cannot say the same.
Posh: Luke McGee, Michael Bostwick, Jack Baldwin, Andrew Hughes (sub Ryan Tafazolli (63 mins), Leo Da Silva Lopes, Lewis Freestone, Chris Forrester, Callum Chettle, Marcus Maddison, Tom Nichols (sub Gwion Edwards, 61 mins), Craig Mackail-Smith. Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Michael Smith, Brad Inman, Junior Morias, Andrea Borg.
Bolton: Mark Howard, Dorian Devite, Andrew Taylor, David Wheater, Mark Beevers, Jay Spearing, Josh Vela, Filipe Morais, Jem Karacan (sub Darren Pratley, 64 mins), Gary Madine (sub Conor Wilkinson, 90 mins), Adam Le Fondre. Unused substitutes: Jake Turner, Dean Moxey, Chris Long, Derik Osede, James Henry.
Goals: Bolton - Karacan (22 mins), Wheater (53 mins), Le Fondre (76 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Hughes (foul).
Bolton - Dervite (foul).
Referee: Scott Duncan 5
Attendance: 22,590 (451 Posh).
Alan Swann is at the Macron Stadium for the Peterborough Telegraph so check back for team news, a match report and match reaction.
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