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3 November 2015

Maitland-Niles and Pitman goals give Blues a deserved three points

Town ended a run of seven games without a win thanks to goals from Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Brett Pitman. 

Maitland-Niles put Blues in front on 13 minutes with his first goal in senior football and Mick McCarthy’s side could have had the game wrapped up by half-time with Pitman and Freddie Sears going close. 

Pitman did add a second though on 70 minutes and in sensational style, thumping a right footer into the roof of the net after linking up with Sears. 

Sears and Daryl Murphy both went close to getting on the scoresheet but the two goals were enough to get Town back on track in the Championship and within four points of the Play-Offs.

Town made two changes to the side that drew with Cardiff at the weekend, Pitman and Jonas Knudsen coming in for David McGoldrick and Jonathan Parr. 

It was Bolton who started on the front foot and Gary Madine forced Dean Gerken into an early save with a diving header from close range after Darren Pratley had got around the back. 

Kevin Bru responded for Blues with a curler from 25 yards that went wide of the far post, then Pitman flashed a terrific header at Ben Amos in the Bolton goal.

Murphy did well to get away from his marker and cross from the right, Josh Vela clearing and the Republic of Ireland international had a big hand in the opening goal, finding Maitland-Niles with an excellent pass. The Arsenal loanee cut in and found the net with a left foot effort from the edge of the box.

Christophe Berra deflected Liam Feeney’s strike over as Bolton looked for an immediate response, Pitman then trying a clever lob but his radar was slightly off. 

The summer signing from Bournemouth thought he had extended Town’s lead on 20 minutes after Amos had collided with a team-mate in the box, Pitman poked the ball goalwards but Jose Manuel Casado cleared off the line with Blues appealing that it had gone over. 

Amos then denied Freddie Sears as Town threatened again before Knudsen picked up a yellow card for a foul on Max Clayton on the edge of the box.  

Blues smothered the danger from the free-kick, Luke Chambers doing well to block Pratley’s strike from the angle.

Gerken held firm to gather Feeney’s cross that beat everyone including the on-rushing Madine, then at the other end Sears hooked the ball over the bar from Pitman’s header. 

The limping Maitland-Niles couldn’t quite find Sears with his pass after Town broke, the wideman having to be replaced just before the break by Jonathan Douglas. 

Sears tested Amos with the last strike of the half, the ‘keeper appearing to make a brilliant save from Douglas in the first minute of the second-half but the referee gave a goal-kick.

Sears then had a close range header hacked clear as Blues looked for a second, Murphy again getting away from his marker and forcing a corner.

Tommy Smith had the crowd on their feet with a ‘Cruyff turn’, Murphy just failing to force the ball home from a cross.

Murphy forced another corner with a surging run then Gerken plucked Madine’s header out of the air as Bolton looked for a way back into the game.

It was Town who struck though and in sensational style, Sears releasing Pitman who exploded a right foot rocket into the net on 70 minutes. 

Murphy, a constant threat to the Trotters, found Sears with a clever pass, the former West Ham striker hitting the sidenetting as Blues pushed for a third.

Pitman had a header cleared off the line again, the striker sent another effort just over then Sears was inches away with a low drive.

Sears forced Amos into another save with a fantastic effort from 35 yards with substitute McGoldrick almost forcing the ball in just before the final whistle as Town recorded a 14th straight home win in games played on a Tuesday night.

Town: Gerken, Chambers, Smith, Berra, Knudsen, Skuse, Bru, Maitland-Niles (Douglas 43), Sears, Murphy, Pitman (McGoldrick 88). Subs not used: Bialkowski, Malarcyzk, Parr, Coke, Oar. Booked: Knudsen, Chambers.

Bolton: Amos, Gouano (Osede 46), Dervite, Wheather, Vela, Casado, Spearing (Heskey 79), Pratley, Feeney, Madine, Clayton (Woolery 73). Subs not used: Rachubka, Twardzik, Danns, Dobbie. Booked Casado, Madine.
Att: 17,007







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