REPORT | Southend 0-1 Bolton
Mark Beevers’ injury time winner broke Southend United hearts as Bolton Wanderers snatched a 1-0 win at Roots Hall.
The centre-back’s strike came after the Blues failed to clear a Trotters corner and was a bitter pill to swallow after a superb second half from the home side.
Bolton had been much the better team in the first half and struck the post twice, but it was Southend who ramped up the pressure in the second period.
Despite having much of the play, Blues were indebted to their goalkeeper Christian Walton who made two vital saves before being beaten by Beevers late on.
With the final action of the game, Walton almost became a Southend hero as his header on goal was cleared off the line by Beevers to send the Bolton fans a step closer to automatic promotion.
Phil Brown was forced to watch the winner from the stands after being sent off for his protestations following a penalty appeal that was waved away. And he will no doubt feel his side were at least worth a point against his former club.
Going into the game Brown was forced into making three changes following the Oldham win with the suspended Ryan Leonard joining the injured Anton Ferdinand and Ben Coker on the sidelines.
Theo Robinson, Michael Timlin and Ryan Inniss were brought in, but Inniss’ night only lasted 15 minutes as he fell heavily inside the area after a free kick from Anthony Wordsworth.
After a long stoppage the centre half was escorted off the pitch by paramedics with a suspected dislocated shoulder, being replaced by John White.
Prior to the injury, Bolton had been on the front foot and on the resumption of play they had a good chance from a corner when David Wheater rose highest to head on target, only for his effort to hit Adam Le Fondre before being cleared.
Minutes later and Bolton had Southend scrambling at another corner as the ball bounced around following a Gary Madine header that had to be cleared off the line by Nile Ranger.
Ranger then had a great chance of his own up the other end which had to be cleared off the line by Wheater after Mark Howard failed to deal with Timlin’s low cross from the left, which Ranger unable to force the ball over the line.
The action was really hotting up and Bolton went closer than either side had gone to open the scoring when Filipe Morais’ cross was headed against the face of the post by Madine, with Christian Walton motionless.
Nine minutes of injury time was signalled following the injury to Inniss and Bolton once again went close, hitting the post for the second time in the game just before the break.
Josh Vela’s low cross found Le Fondre whose flick-on forced a great reaction save from Walton. Walton’s parry deflected off Timlin and onto the foot of the post before dribbling wide to the relief of the Roots Hall crowd.
Southend began the second half brightly with Simon Cox forcing a routine save out of Howard before the Blues almost caught Bolton on the counter only for Robinson to over hit his pass to Ranger with Southend four-on-two.
Will Atkinson had a half chance go high and wide from outside the area before Timlin went even closer with a curling effort that went inches over the bar as the Blues began to ramp up the pressure on the visitors.
Stephen McLaughlin almost scored a spectacular goal from distance as his long-range effort whistled just over the crossbar seconds before he was replaced by Jermaine McGlashan with 20 minutes of the game remaining.
Against the run of play, Bolton went close to taking the lead after Le Fondre’s dummy saw him through on goal, sliding the ball into sub Max Clayton whose first-time effort was superbly saved by the sprawling Walton.
Tempers between the two benches had been bubbling under all night, and after Southend had a penalty appeal turned down, after Ranger went over under pressure from Wheater, Phil Brown was sent to the stands by referee Charles Breakspear for his protests.
Brown then had to watch on from the stands as Bolton snatched the points in injury time mere seconds after Walton had made another brilliant stop to deny a stooping Clayton header.
From the resulting corner, Southend failed to clear their lines as Mark Beevers lashed home what would turn out to be the winner and send the 600 travelling Bolton fans wild.
Having been so desperately unlucky to see his clean-sheet snatched from him, Walton almost made himself a Roots Hall hero as in the final seconds of the game as he managed to head the ball on goal only to see it cleared off the line by the goal-scorer Beevers as the whistle blew for full time.
Blues XI | Walton, Wordsworth, Thompson, Timlin (C), Cox (Fortune 83’), McLaughlin (McGlashan 69’), Atkinson, Demetriou, Robinson, Inniss (White 16’), Ranger. Subs Not Used: Bexon, O’Neill, Amos, Nouble
Bolton Wanderers XI | Howard, Moxey, Dervite, Beevers, Vela, Spearing, Madine (Clayton 46’), Pratley (C), Morais, Wheater, Le Fondre. Subs Not Used: Turner, Karacan, Long, Osede, Henry, Wabara
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Assistants: Michael Webb & Ian Rathbone
Fourth Official: Neil Davies
Southend United: None
Bolton Wanderers: Mark Beevers 90+2’
Southend United: Nile Ranger 45+6’
Bolton Wanderers: Jay Spearing 41’, Darren Pratley 63’