BOLTON’S MACHINE RUNS OUT OF SPARK
Winning runs ends at five...
THE spark which helped Bolton record five consecutive wins deserted them at home to Chesterfield, according to boss Phil Parkinson, as Wanderers were frustrated in their efforts to close the gap to leaders Sheffield United.
During their winning run, Bolton found a flair for breaking down stubborn opposition but struggling Chesterfield stood firm at the back in a Macron Stadium stalemate.
Not even Jon Nolan’s stoppagetime dismissal, for a second yellow card, could deny the visitors a clean sheet and Parkinson admitted it had been a frustrating afternoon.
But with other results going their way, the Bolton boss remains in an upbeat mood with seven points now separating Wanderers and third-placed Fleetwood.
“We just couldn’t find that moment of quality in the game, that moment to unlock the door and that was frustrating,” Parkinson said.
“It’s always frustrating when you don’t capitalise and don’t get the three points. But you have to credit Chesterfield too. They made it really difficult for us.
“You need that first goal so the opposition has to open up and we just couldn’t find it.
“We’ve had a great run, and we’ve just got to keep our feet firmly on the ground because there’s still a lot of football left in this season. We’re in a terrific position.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t get carried away, thinking we’ve got one foot in the Championship, because we haven’t.”
Despite Chesterfield sitting second-bottom of the league, it was the visitors and not second-placed Bolton who made the brighter start.
Dan Gardner wasted a 20-yard free-kick just three minutes in when he shot into the wall, while Nolan’s shot was parried clear by Mark Howard in the seventh minute.
Captain Sam Hird threw himself in the way of Dean Moxey’s shot on 18 minutes, but Chesterfield continued to create openings of their own.
Nolan showed good vision to pick out Gardner unmarked inside the area midway through the half, but Howard again parried clear.
Gardner was in again on the stroke of half-time, easily getting between two defenders to unleash a powerful strike which Howard spilled, but the Wanderers’ keeper recovered well to deflect Kristian Dennis’ follow-up wide.
Bolton improved after the break, and Darren Pratley volleyed into Thorsten Stuckmann’s arms on 57 minutes when a bouncing ball in the area just would not drop quickly enough.
Moxey fired just over on 70 minutes when Filipe Morais’ cross evaded everybody in the middle, while Adam Le Fondre shot well over ten minutes later from Max Clayton’s knock-down.
It became more frantic for the hosts, and after some pinball in the area Morais’ shot was blocked in the fourth minute of stoppage time – Bolton unable to force the ball over the line.
There was still time for Nolan – already booked for a foul on Moxey – to pick up a second yellow for a late tackle on Morais but Chesterfield held on.
And boss Gary Caldwell said: “I thought we were magnificent from start to finish.
“We needed every attribute to get a result against the in-form team in the league.
“First half, some of our play on the ball was outstanding. Secondhalf, our desire and commitment defensively was great.
“A point was the least we deserved and, if anything, I thought we should have won with the chances we created first half.
“Confidence and belief can be affected when you’re in this position, but I think they showed that when the confidence comes some of our play is excellent.”
HANDS OFF: Chesterfield’s Dion Donohue shrugs off Josh Vela at the Macron Stadium
HOP TO IT: Bolton forward Chris Long skips over a Chesterfield tackle
FRUSTRATED: Bolton manager Phil Parkinson