Bolton Wanderers 4 Fleetwood Town 2: Cod Army survive despite defeat on the final day

Fleetwood Town will be playing Sky Bet League One football again next season despite a 4-2 defeat at in-form Bolton Wanderers on the last day.

By Trevor Baxter
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 5:50 pm

Stephen Crainey’s side finished one place above the drop zone, indebted to Rotherham United’s win at Gillingham for saving their skins.

In a thrilling afternoon at the University of Bolton Stadium, Barry Baggley’s first Football League goal and Joe Garner’s 79th minute header had seen Town level at 2-2 after 79 minutes.

Dion Charles’ bizarre second goal and an injury-time strike from Jon Dadi Bodvarsson had kept Town’s future in doubt but the final whistle brought relief and joy as goal difference separated the visitors from relegation.

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Fleetwood Town players applaud their supporters after ensuring their survival on the final day Picture: Sam Fielding/PRiME Media Images Limited

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The game started brightly for the visitors and, to the optimism of their 900 travelling fans, Fleetwood carved out the first major chance.

Baggley’s ninth minute effort was clawed away by on-loan Manchester City keeper, James Trafford, but Town stayed on the front foot and were rewarded with a brilliant goal.

Leaving George Johnston tackling thin air, Baggley took a pace forward before audaciously chipping Trafford from 18 yards.

Wanderers were playing for pride only but looked to finish their campaign with a fourth successive win and an eighth game unbeaten.

Callum Camps and Anthony Pilkington weren’t too far away from adding a second goal but the mood changed when Charles ended his goal drought to draw the Trotters level after 37 minutes.

The former Accrington star, without a goal in 14 games for club or country, slid the ball under Cairns’ legs after strike partner Amadou Bakayoko rode a challenge to play the key pass.

Dylan Boyle’s challenge on Dapo Afolayan brought the game’s first booking as half-time approached with Fleetwood still above the dreaded dotted line.

Those relegation fears heightened, however, when Town fell behind after 53 minutes as Welsh international Declan John, not known for his prowess with his right foot, let fly from 15 yards.

Cairns, perhaps unsighted, couldn’t keep out the left-back’s deflected shot and it meant only goal difference kept Town from the bottom four.

Renowned this season for coughing up points from winning leads, Town’s weakness had struck again at the worst possible time.

Cian Hayes did hit the target after 56 minutes from Danny Andrew’s angled pass but his effort was weak and easily saved by Trafford.

Cairns needed to be more agile to beat away Gethin Jones’ effort as Wanderers went in search of a third.

Fleetwood, with their destiny still in their own hands, came roaring back 10 minutes from time after Garner’s acrobatic effort was kept out by Trafford at the expense of a corner.

Andrew flighted it over and Garner’s header was ruled to have crossed the line despite the keeper’s best efforts.

However, there was deflation when Charles slid in for a challenge and the ball looped fully 45 yards over a startled Cairns before Bodvarsson slammed a drive past the keeper in stoppage time.

Bolton Wanderers: Trafford, Jones, Aimson, Johnston, John, Sadlier (Kachunga 65), Thomason (Baptiste 88), Morley, Afolayan, Charles, Bakayoko (Bodvarsson 65). Subs not used: Dixon, Amaechi, Gordon, Conway.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns, Macadam, Nsiala, Clarke (Jules 77), Andrew, Baggley (Batty 65), Boyle (Morris 90), Camps, Hayes, Garner, Pilkington. Subs not used: Harrop, Butterworth, O’Hara, Bird.

Referee: Martin Coy.

Attendance: 16,866.