Express & Star

Bolton 0 West Brom 2 - Report and pictures

If a club holds any desire of finishing in the top two, these are the sort of games they need to be winning.

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Sam Field of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 0-2. (AMA)

Forget the off-field distractions, the added atmosphere of a night game, or the mounting injury crisis in midfield, with Leeds and Sheffield United losing at the weekend this was an opportunity the Baggies simply couldn't pass up.

They were off-colour for much of the match, and looked oddly weary after nine days without a game.

But a close-range header from Jay Rodriguez 19 minutes in was followed up by substitute Sam Field's second goal for the club 15 minutes from time.

It may not have been pretty, but it was an important victory over crisis club Bolton in a match punctuated by off-field protests against Wanderers owner Ken Anderson

Although Sam Johnstone's fourth clean sheet of the season was always likely to come here, he still had to work for it.

But despite all the incident, in the end, the division's highest scorers saw out a rather routine 2-0 win against the league's lowest scorers.

Darren Moore named an unchanged line-up, handing a third start in a row to 18-year-old Rekeem Harper while Matt Phillips and James Morrison remained sidelined through injury.

Phil Parkinson made four changes to the Wanderers side that lost to Bristol City.

Bolton are in crisis, and fans made their feelings felt outside the stadium beforehand and then right on kick off, when they launched dozens of tennis balls onto the pitch.

But the protests seemed to distract Albion more, and Moore's men started jittery.

Gary O'Neil went skimmed the far post with a header after Mason Holgate lost the ball on the right hand side, and there were a few nervy moments for Sam Johnstone with the ball at his feet.

But then the goalkeeper got everything right, drilling an early ball 75 yards up the pitch to Dwight Gayle in the left channel, before the lethal striker went close with Albion's first effort.

However, Bolton were posing the biggest threat early on as the sloppy Baggies misplaced passes.

But then 19 minutes in a well-worked free-kick routine helped settle the nerves.

When perennial free-kick winner Hal Robson-Kanu was tripped by the corner of the area, Chris Brunt curled a delightful ball to the back post where it was headed back across goal by Craig Dawson and onto a plate for Rodriguez.

The striker couldn't miss from one inch out, nodding in his 14th of the season to draw level with Gayle in the scoring charts, although he only just stayed onside.

That was Brunt's final contribution, because he was forced off soon after with a calf injury to be replaced by Sam Field - deepening Albion's injury crisis in midfield.

The Baggies had a strong penalty appeal waved away shortly before the half-hour mark when Mason Holgate's cross struck Andrew Taylor's outstretched arm, but there was just as much action in the stands as on the pitch.

Home fans and stewards were brawling in the same section the tennis balls came from, but on the field, Bolton weren't going away.

Sammy Ameobi forced Sam Johnstone into a full-stretch save when O'Neil pulled the ball back to him on the edge of the area and Wanderers continued to win the ball high up.

Gayle clipped the top of a crossbar with a free-kick but the home crowd were more interested in the cat and mouse they had started with the stewards and an 'Anderson Out' banner.

It was starting to get feisty on the pitch as well, with Robson-Kanu requiring a bandage to stem the flow of blood after a stray elbow and Mason Holgate taking issue to a similar challenge from Clayton Donaldson, who himself had just been barged off the pitch by Dawson.

The Trotters started the second half just as brightly as the first, with Jason Lowe forcing Johnstone into another impressive save.

On the hour mark, Ahmed Hegazi had to slide in on Donaldson when he was sent clear down the left.

Bolton were growing in confidence and the Baggies were lacking zip, spark, or energy.

Gareth Barry was growing tired, and he was booked for a weary challenge with 20 minutes to go.

But five minutes later the Baggies had their breathing space. When Gayle dummied Rodriguez's pass forward, Field gambled, and was rewarded for his effort, poking home his second goal for the club he supports in front of the away fans.

The Baggies grew in stature after that and finally began to clip the ball around with confidence.

Johnstone had to make one more save in injury time to be sure of that clean sheet, but Albion saw out the three pointsin relative comfort.

It moves them above Sheffield United into third, just three points off the top two ahead of an intriguing run of games in February against strong opposition.


00 Bolton fans delay kick-off by throwin tennis balls onto the pitch.

19 GOAL ALBION - Rodriguez nods home his 14th of the season from one inch out.

27 Brunt forced off through i njury to be replaced by Field.

30 Holgate's cross hits an arm but penalty appeals are waved away.

75 GOAL ALBION - Field pokes home his second goal for the club to give Albion breathing space


Jay Rodriguez - Scored the opener and worked tirelessly up front


3rd - with 50 points from 28 games.


Bolton (4-2-3-1): Alnwick (c); Lowe, Taylor, Beevers, Hobbs; O'Neil, Olkowski; Murphy (Buckley 69), Ameobi, Noone (Pritchard 83); Donaldson (Magennis 69).

Unused subs: Matthews, Wheater, Pritchard, Connell, Wilson.

Albion (4-3-3): Johnstone; Holgate, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs; Harper (Adarabioyo 90+1), Barry, Brunt (c) (Field 27); Gayle, Rodriguez, Robson-Kanu (Sako 85).

Unused subs: Bond, Bartley, Adarabioyo, Hoolahan, Leko.

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 14,750 (858 away)