Doyle shows the value of a goalscorer as Bolton fight back

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Veteran striker Eoin Doyle was calmness personified as he notched his 17th league goal of the season to help Bolton claim a come from behind 2-1 victory over Harrogate.

It was probably just about deserved as Wanderers improved markedly after the half time break after a first half that saw Harrogate come flying out of the traps and take the game to the hosts.

Doyle was cutting an isolated figure up front and was bellowing at his colleagues to ‘get tighter’ as the Sulphurites were finding acres of space between the midfield and the Bolton backline. Harrogate were pressing high and Ian Evatt’s men were struggling to get a foothold of possession.

On an occasion where they were forced to go long, Doyle almost got in on goal from a Matt Gilks goal kick but James Belshaw beat him to it.

Bolton’s attacks were sporadic with Marcus Maddison struggling to influence play. Kieran Lee was looking lively and Doyle’s link up play was good, setting the midfielder away and then finding him in the box with a cross. Unfortunately, Lee was unable to provide the finish.

Doyle’s hold up play was decent and he set a good counter attack away towards the end of the first half but there was no consistency to Bolton’s attacks and the Irishman was feeding off scraps.

He did get through on goal on one occasion and will have been disappointed as he took his shot early and it was saved relatively comfortably by Belshaw. It was a great chance for Bolton to get in at the break on level terms but in truth it would barely have been deserved.

Evatt knew that the first half performance wasn’t good enough and made a change at half time. Wanderers were having no control at the base of the midfield and Harrogate were having far too much joy. George Thomason came on for Maddison and sat in a midfield two alongside MJ Williams.

Thomason was excellent in the second half and his arrival allowed Lee, Lloyd Isgrove, and Dapo Afolayan much more freedom to attack and support Doyle.

No longer isolated, Doyle was starting to have more joy and was trying to sniff out chances. He had a header saved easily by Belshaw but to even get the effort on target was difficult, the ball swinging away from goal and Doyle having to crane his neck to make contact.

Bolton were pressing for the winner and were hoping for that one golden chance to fall to Doyle. In the 78th minute, that chance presented itself.

Connor Hall made a rare mistake in the Harrogate defence, failing to connect properly with his pass. The ball fell to Doyle outside the box with goalkeeper Belshaw well off his line. The temptation to try and chip the ‘keeper was surely there but like a top striker, Doyle remained cool, turned inside on his left foot and slotted under Belshaw.

The former Bradford man was delighted to get on the scoresheet and knew what a big goal this could prove to be. His side held on to secure the three points and move back into the automatic promotion places with just six games to go.

Doyle was signed on a three-year contract last summer after helping Swindon to promotion and he continues to show the value of someone who can put the ball in the back of the net at this, and any level. That’s now 42 goals in 65 league games since the beginning of last season.

The Dubliner is showing no signs of slowing down and is now joint-third in the scoring charts after topping the list last season. His goals and experience will be crucial as Bolton look to seal a return to League One in the final month of this campaign.

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