BOLTON 0 TOWN 1
Norwood stunner makes it three on the bounce
Oliver Norwood settled a tense encounter at the Reebok with a stunning long range goal to earn the Terriers their first victory in Bolton in 45 years.
It was the midfielder’s second long range goal in a matter of days and earned Town a fully deserving three points.
‘keeper Alex Smithies had a huge hand in the victory, literally, with some fine saves in the first half to keep the Trotters at bay.
Town were forced to make two changes from the impressive victory over Burnley with Keith Southern replacing the suspended Adam Clayton and Danny Ward the injured Martin Paterson.
Alex Smithies had received as much of the praise from Mark Robins in Town’s recent victories as his strikers and the stopper was in red hot form during the first half at the Reebok.
The Academy graduate made two superb stops within a minute of one another to make sure that the Terriers went in at half-time level. The 23 year-old spread himself well to deny Andre Moritz before palming Matt Mills’ bullet header wide from the resulting corner.
Bolton enjoyed much of the running during an intriguing first-half, which also saw Rob Hall and former Terrier Jermaine Beckford force Smithies into saves from range.
At the other end, Town’s best moments were with strike partnership Danny Ward and James Vaughan.
Former Wanderer Ward hit the outside of the post with a swivel volley and Paul Dixon drove wide as Town enjoyed a brief foray on Andy Lonergan’s goal.
Vaughan was his usual busy self and did excellently to split Bolton’s two centre-backs and connect with Oliver Norwood’s cross, but he could only divert his header wide of the mark.
Ward was forced off on the stroke of half-time with a dead leg and replaced by Sean Scannell, who went on to have the first effort of the second 45 when he cut in from the left and shot tame fully wide.
The home side were second best at the start of the second half, but looked lively on the break. On the hour mark both Southern and Anthony Gerrard were at full stretch to prevent the Trotters troubling Smithies.
Norwood, whose form had been excellent of late, was building into the game and forced Lonergan into a full length save from Hammill’s corner. Lonergan was to have no chance with Norwood’s next effort, though, when the former Manchester United midfielder smashed home the opener from 25 yards.
On came Joe Mason to add to Bolton’s strike force as Dougie Freedman men went in search of an equaliser.
Their best chances fell to Beckford, who steered a header wide from Kevin McNaughton’s cross and then, with just five minutes of the game left, hit wide when well placed.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies; Joel Lynch, Anthony Gerrard, Tommy Smith; Paul Dixon, Jonathan Hogg, Keith Southern (Oscar Gobern, 62), Oliver Norwood, Adam Hammill; Danny Ward (Sean Scannell, 45), James Vaughan
Ian Bennett, Calum Woods, Murray Wallace, Duane Holmes, Jon Stead
Bookings Bolton: Matt Mills 90
Bookings Town: Tommy Smith 67, Oliver Norwood 88