Mirco Antenucci's penalty earns a 1-1 draw at the Macron Stadium...
BOLTON 1 (Ameobi 32), UNITED 1 (Antenucci pen 71)
Bolton team: Amos, Derik, Prince, Wheater, Casado, Vela, Pratley, Danns (Dervite 79), Davies (Dobbie 45), Feeney, Madine (Ameobi 12). Subs: Rachubka, Clayton, Twardzik, Walker.
United team: Silvestri, Byram, Cooper, Bamba, Berardi, Dallas (Buckley 74), Adeyemi, Murphy (Mowatt 45), Cook (Phillips 87), Antenucci, Wood. Subs: Horton, Bellusci, Wootton, Doukara.
Referee: S Hooper
Booked: Byram (United)
Sent off: Prince (Bolton)
Att: 18,178 (4,419 United)
As a “whirlwind” week for Steve Evans drew to a close, the new head coach and his United side made the relatively short trip across to the Macron Stadium to face Neil Lennon’s Bolton Wanderers.
Evans named an unchanged starting line-up from the encouraging midweek draw at Fulham, with Wednesday night's goalscorer Chris Wood passed fit after being forced off through injury during the second half at Craven Cottage. The only change to the substitutes bench saw Jordan Botaka (illness) miss out to be replaced by Souleymane Doukara.
The game began at a lively tempo but the opening 10 minutes passed without incident as both sides tussled for possession. The hosts were dealt a blow just 12 minutes in, though, as striker Gary Madine was forced off through injury, making way for debutant Shola Ameobi in attack.
Darren Pratley had their first sight of goal just two minutes later, towering a close-range header over the bar after rising to meet a left-wing cross, before United could well have opened the scoring at the opposite end following Luke Murphy’s corner.
Liam Cooper rose to meet the midfielder’s delivery at the near-post, flicking the ball towards the danger zone, where Adeyemi was arriving to crash a first time effort against the base of the post.
A real end-to-end game was starting to break out and Murphy and Sol Bamba were both forced into crucial blocks inside the area, while Liam Feeney fizzed a low strike wide of the far post after driving the hosts forward.
Stuart Dallas then saw his low effort deflected behind from the edge of the area after another Murphy corner had fallen into his path, but it was the hosts who managed to break the deadlock on 32 minutes through that man Ameobi.
The former Newcastle United striker met a corner inside the area to hammer an unstoppable strike beyond Marco Silvestri and open the scoring in front of the visiting United supporters.
And Ameobi slotted Feeney through on goal just moments later, but Silvestri got down sharply to hold his low attempt at the second time of asking, before United ended the first half strongly following a flurry of attacks.
Wood passed up the best opportunity on the stroke of half-time after the ball had fallen for him on the turn, but goalkeeper Ben Amos stood firm with a fine block to preserve the lead going into the break.
Both sides made changes at the break, with Alex Mowatt replacing Murphy in midfield for United and Bolton introducing Stephen Dobbie in place of Mark Davies.
Evans’ half-time team talk had clearly made an impression on United, who made a lively start to the second period as Mirco Antenucci burst forward before hammering into the side-netting from a tight angle just two minutes after the restart.
Now attacking the goal in front of the travelling fans, United were urged forward and Adeyemi – for the second time of the afternoon – was denied a second goal of his Whites career by the woodwork, as the slightest of touches from Amos diverted his 20-yard strike onto the post.
A deserved equaliser eventually came on 71 minutes following a frantic period of play which began with Silvestri making a superb, sprawling save to push away Dobbie’s low effort. United broke and Antenucci was tripped inside the area by Prince-Desire Gouano, prompting referee Simon Hooper to point to the spot.
The Bolton defender was shown a straight red card and Antenucci dusted himself down to coolly dispatch the spot-kick, sending Amos in the opposite direction.
Will Buckley was introduced in place of Dallas on the right wing as United looked to make their numerical advantage count, but there proved to be no further goals despite late pressure from both sides.