Bolton Wanderers have moved within a point of Sky Bet League 1 leaders Scunthorpe United after an impressive 4-0 thumping of Gillingham at the Macron Stadium.
The promotion chasers played some free-flowing football throughout the first half and raced into a 2-0 lead through goals from Gary Madine and Josh Vela.
Madine’s second in the 65th minute wrapped up the victory, while Sammy Ameobi’s fantastic strike added shine to a win that moves Phil Parkinson’s Wanderers into second in the League 1 table.
The home side came into the game with seven wins from their last eight games and that showed with the confidence in which they started the game. Madine flashed a shot wide from 20 yards while just after, Zac Clough managed to chest Lawrie Wilson’s cross into the path of Vela, but Max Ehmer got back to deflect the shot inches wide.
From the first whistle, a Bolton goal had been coming and the inevitable happened in the 14th minute. Clough burst past two men in midfield and slid the ball wide for Vela on the left, but the attacking midfielder only had Madine to aim for in the penalty area. The cross was aimed perfectly into the six-yard box which allowed the experienced striker to fly in with a diving header for his first goal of the evening.
Vela should have doubled the lead a minute later, but when Wilson’s cross was deflected into his space, the 22-year-old poked his shot wide. It was a good opportunity and he should have at least hit the target. Just after, Clough was the man wasting a great chance as he raced on to Ameobi’s pass, but fired his shot straight at Stuart Nelson from the edge of the box.
Despite the missed chances, Vela and Clough linked up to give Bolton a second goal of real class. Vela slid it through for his partner-in-crime and continued his run into the box which was met perfectly by Clough’s skilful back-heel. Vela strode into the penalty area and slammed his shot into the bottom corner, giving Parkinson one of the easiest half-time team talks of his career.
Gillingham could have pulled themselves straight back in the game after 52 minutes, but Jake Hessenthaler’s header from ten yards flew inches wide. It was good play from the Gills as Franck Nouble got forward and swung in a good cross, but the young midfielder couldn’t get his header on target despite a good leap.
The miss proved to be vital as Bolton wrapped up the result with a third goal. Jay Spearing’s inswinging free-kick was on a plate for Madine, who eagerly nodded in his third goal in two games with an expert header. It was a well-taken goal, but credit must go to Spearing for a fantastic delivery.
Bolton didn’t take their foot off the pedal and went about sending message to their promotion rivals. Nelson made a great save to deny Chris Taylor with his feet while from the corner, Madine should have headed in a hat-trick as he sent a free header over from six yards out.
The final goal will steal the headlines, and has already been labelled locally as the ‘Ameobi Special.’ The former Newcastle United man came inside onto his left foot and fizzed the ball into the top corner with an immense amount of power, sending the Macron into a party atmosphere.
Wanderers played out the final ten minutes with ease and Parkinson will be hoping this top form will continue away to Chesterfield on Saturday. Meanwhile, Justin Edinburgh’s Gillingham side will need to bounce back in their home game against MK Dons.
Match Report by Kyle Dixon (@kyledixon95)