A Festive cracker of a football match was played at Brunton Park, as Bolton Wanderers came back from a three-nil deficit to snatch a victory away from Carlisle United. First-half goals from Aaron Hayden, Lewis Alessandra and Omari Patrick gave United an early lead, but a George Thomason header before half time was followed up by late strikes from Nathan Delfouneso and Peter Kioso who turned an ominous defeat into victory.
The Cumbrians were boosted with the return of Jon Mellish back into midfield after suspension but lost Nick Anderton, as he was in contact with a positive COVID case on Chrismas day. Harry Brockbank and Lloyd Isgrove dropped out for the Trotters, in came Andrew Tutte and Peter Kioso.
Bolton manager Ian Evatt and former Barrow manager stoked the fire claiming United were a long ball team. The Trotters manager also claimed that his side were the best in the division, but their league position said otherwise.
In the wind and rain from Storm Bella, United were the side who started tempestuously. Within four minutes United had the lead through Aaron Hayden.
Callum Guy’s free-kick was whipped dangerously into the area, former Scotland International Matt Gilks in the Bolton goal came out unconvincingly. The Bolton keepers hesitation allowed Hayden, who was running onto the ball to nod home and give United a one-nil lead.
Six minutes later United were flying as Lewis Alessandra knocked in the second goal. A low pass from a Guy corner was cooly sidefooted through a Bolton defender’s legs and into the back of the net, the move was something straight off the training ground.
Alessandra has certainly shown his quality and skillfulness and the sharpness to execute the move proved that the former Morecambe man’s influence should not be underestimated.
It really should’ve been three for the Cumbrians. United pinned back the Trotters with a Kayode long throw, the ball eventually fell to Omari Patrick at the back post, but his header was saved by Gilks.
Patrick came even closer on the fifteenth-minute mark after some nice interplay from the winger and Jon Mellish saw him cut inside. He then curled a sweet strike which looked destined for the net only to be denied by the woodwork.
United continued to miss chances and none would be clearer, than when Ricardo Santos let a ball drift under his foot. Alessandra raced through on goal but cleared the crossbar with his unusually rushed shot.
Only a minute after Bolton manager Ian Evatt was booked, his side looked like they’d collapsed. Joe Riley headed a loose ball forwards, which Kayode battled for the ball, then ricocheted to Omari Patrick who calmly slotted past Gilks to send the home crowd into songs of joy.
Bolton, however, hadn’t completely given up hope. Riley overplayed with a loose ball in his half and was caught by Eoin Doyle who passed to Peter Kioso whose cross was deflected towards the back post for George Thomason to head into the top corner.
United did have one more chance before half time when Mellish got on to a loose ball, but unusually he went to place his shot which drifted wide. The teams went into the break with three one as the scoreline.
Storm Bella’s wind was now in the favour of Bolton, as they started the second half and seemed to get on top thanks to an attacking substitution. Evatt chose to take off Alex Baptiste and bring on Wales international, Lloyd Isgrove which saw Bolton go into a four three three formation.
United still had the better chances and Alessandra hit the woodwork for the Cumbrians. A Kayode long-throw fell to the United playmaker on the edge of the box, but his shot clipped the woodwork as it flew over the bar.
Substitute Gime Toure then collected the ball in midfield and went on a surging run through the midfield. He slid Kayode in, but hesitation meant he was crowded out and only managed to shoot over the bar. Jon Mellish was arriving on his left which, was surely the better option.
Bolton started their dangerous resurgence in the 86th minute when Kioso got down the right the ball found it’s way to Sarcevic whose low cross was easily tapped in by Nathan Delfouneso. Worrying signs for the Cumbrians.
A couple of minutes later the Trotters were level through Kioso, who possibly could’ve been sent off for a second yellow a few minutes beforehand. Isgrove’s corner was cleared, but it found the Welshman who put in another inviting ball which was headed in by the Luton Town loanee.
Bolton almost won it when Thomason got onto a lose Mellish touch in the United box, but he could only hit the post. This could’ve sealed a fantastic comeback for Wanderers.
Goalscorer Kioso was then sent off as he should’ve been earlier in the match, for an accumulation of fouls. This time Ross Joyce produced the second yellow for the Bolton wingback.
In Jimmy Glass time as they say in Cumbria, United came very close through Jon Mellish. A 96th-minute corner from Guy dropped to Mellish, but he could only prod the ball at the right-hand post.
Carlisle United seemed to be going through a tough patch by their lofty standards, possibly the prospect of going top has got into the player’s minds.
Chris Beech won’t be worried though as they are still third in the table and travel to Harrogate on Tuesday night. Bolton Wanderers lie in 15th position, this is not a position a team of their stature wish to be in and despite this comeback, Ian Evatt’s job will not be completely safe. They face Morecambe at home on Tuesday.