BIG MATCH VERDICT: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Forest Green Rovers

In a stadium that has seen more than enough strange umpires over the years, this case of mistaken identity is perhaps the worst.

But despite a terrible mistake by Yorkshire official Tom Nield, who saw goal scorer Dion Charles sent off in the first half for a foul by his teammate Elias Kachunga, Ian Evatt’s side held on for what will surely end as a famous three points. .

There was no trace of madness when Wanderers opened the scoring six minutes later.

Clearly trying to make amends for the weekend’s mistakes, Bolton immediately got on the front foot to attack a visiting defense who had conceded in each of their last 15 away games.

Charles took his 13th of the season with a nimble finish from Gethin Jones’ right cross, but there was also beauty in the build-up, where Shola Shoretire’s combination with Conor Bradley had carved a streak into the box.

Rovers did their best to take teenage playmaker Shoretire off his game, Regan Hendry seemingly tasked with a shirt change as soon as possible.

And alongside him in midfield, Kyle Dempsey was also in a combative mood. Winning two consecutive 50-50 challenges in his own half, he managed to send Shoretire into space on the edge of the box, but unfortunately the youngster’s shot was wayward.

Rovers – dressed in one of the jazzier away strips we’ve seen at the UniBol this season – flashed a few crosses into the Bolton box to keep the home defenders on their toes. But overall it was comfortable, and if the Whites kept playing at the same pace through midfield you could only see them extending their lead.

That is, to use a phrase, when all hell broke loose.

When referee Neild first stopped play as Wanderers charged to the right, few in the stadium had any idea of ​​the reason. A pair of Forest Green defenders ran over to speak to the Wakefield official, who by this time went to the touchline to consult his assistant, and they were soon joined by Kachunga, who also appeared to be trying to score a point over to bring.

When Neild ran back to the field to give Charles the red, confusion grew.

Kachunga still seemed to be talking — and Neild had to come over and tell an apoplectic Evatt what was going on. What was the role of the fourth official, Ollie Yates, in all this is a mystery.

Those who could see a replay in the stadium will have seen Kachunga’s rashness. Only he will know why he lashed out at Cooper – and for a player of his experience it shouldn’t have happened at all.

Wanderers were suddenly at a disadvantage. They saw the half challenging, with James Trafford making a brave save at the feet of Myles Peart-Harris after Ben Stevenson’s shot bounced off Eoin Toal.

Things got heated as the referees walked back through the tunnel, not only from the fans – eager to express their disapproval – but also from Evatt, who was waiting to give them some encouragement.

For a moment, it seemed that Bolton’s sense of injustice could spell their downfall. The game turned into a messy mess and for once it was the whites killing as much time as possible.

Referee Neild struggled to regain control and now presumably understood the mistake that had been made.

Wanderers sat in and defended their penalty area. Trafford made a good save to deny substitute Kyle McAllister, who had come to the end of Cory O’Keefe’s cross, but otherwise watched as a stream of crosses and kicked off shots failed to reach their intended target.

When Evatt chose to make a change, Shoretire got a standing ovation from the main stand as we walked back to the dugout, to be replaced by Kieran Lee. Kachunga’s substitution was greeted with loud cheers and boos as he ran to the sidelines in exchange for MJ Williams.

Forest Green should have leveled with 10 minutes remaining through substitute Matthew Stevens as he turned up unmarked at the far post but failed to get his feet in order.

But this had become a collective effort to keep three points. The crowd wasn’t the biggest at the University of Bolton Stadium this season, but arguably the most focused.

Evatt walked to the edge of his tech room with two minutes of normal time left, gesturing to the crowd around him to keep up the positive vibes and help them through.

Moments later, Bradley somehow found the energy to race past some defenders towards goal, but unfortunately the Liverpool mercenary couldn’t find the finish to match his hard effort.

When six minutes of extra time flashed on the fourth official’s board, there was a collective breath.

When Will Aimson was called up, Bolton were five center halves and had no centre-forward on the field, so keen were they to keep the points.

But wait, they did – and the relief at the final whistle was palpable. It now remains to be seen what the effort has demanded from the team as they head to Charlton this weekend?

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