Bolton Wanderers 0-2 West Brom: Baggies take the points in a game marred by protests
(Photo: Getty Images/Gareth Copley)

Bolton Wanderers 0-2 West Brom: Baggies take the points in a game marred by protests

West Bromwich Albion secured a comfortable victory in the North West as they continue their push for promotion back to the Premier League

Jack Groom

West Bromwich Albion were comfortable victors away at Bolton Wanderers as they triumphed 0-2 at the University of Bolton Stadium.

Goals from Jay Rodriguez and Sam Field either side of half time were enough to seal a third-consecutive win for the Baggies in a match overshadowed by protests from home fans against their owner Ken Anderson.

The win sees Albion move up a place to third, just three points off Norwich City in the last automatic promotion place.

As for Phil Parkinson's Bolton, they remain embroiled in a relegation battle as they sit 23rd, three points from safety.

Story of the match

With planned protests again Anderson taking place outside the ground prior to the game, the vociferous home fans made their feelings known inside, too.

Kick-off was delayed by the throwing of tennis balls onto the pitch from a section of the home crowd, whilst there were chants aplenty as to their feelings towards Anderson also.

When the match did begin it was an even start in Lancashire, with both teams looking aggressive and aiming to utilise their pace and power up front. 

Both teams were presented with chances in the opening ten minutes, yet neither could make them pay.

Gary O'Neill nearly broke the deadlock in just the third minute as he flashed a header inches wide from a Craig Noone cross for the hosts, while Dwight Gayle could not hit the target with his half volley after cutting onto his right foot from right of centre following a long ball down field from goalkeeper Sam Johnstone.

As the half wore on the away side began to look the more assured of the two teams - no surprise given their 19-place advantage over their opponents heading into the fixture - and it was they who got their noses in front in the 19th minute.

A deep Chris Brunt free-kick was headed back across goal by Craig Dawson. The ball was presented perfectly for Rodriguez who had the straightforward task of nodding home from virtually one yard out; the forward will not score an easier goal all season.

The hosts huffed and puffed for an equaliser, Sammy Ameobi coming closets when his shot from an O'Neill cut-back was smartly tipped over by Johnstone.

Gayle sent a 30-yard free-kick fizzing just over the crossbar for the visitors shortly after as the match became a stop-start, scrappy affair from then on, and Albion went into the break in the ascendancy. 

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Bolton started brightest after the break and forced a number of free-kicks,  all of which came to nothing.

They had plenty of territory yet were only able to force Johnstone into action once, the stopper having to fly high to his left to tip away a fierce Jason Lowe volley from fifteen yards out following a Mark Beevers knock down from a corner.

Despite dominating possession they could not produce an equaliser - and they were soon left to rue their bluntness in attack as they found themselves two down.

In the 75th minute Rodriguez played a ball through to Gayle on the edge of the penalty area. The on-loan Newcastle United man then produced a sumptuous dummy which completely outfoxed the entire Wanderers defence and saw the ball fall perfectly for the onrushing Field - an early substitute for the injured Brunt.

He produced a cool finish as he poked the ball past Ben Alnwick for his second league goal for the club and his first of the season, wrapping up the contest for his side.

Takeaways from the match

Wanderers need a midfield spark

It is a clear game plan put in place by Parkinson to get the ball wide and attack from crosses, yet this cannot be their only weapon.

A central trio of Lowe, O'Neill and Luke Murphy provides little-to-no flair or creativity on the ball, meaning when their wingers are nullified they look stale in possession as they rely on long balls up to their lone striker.

When their front man is marshalled by two top quality central defenders for this level - as seen tonight in the form of Dawson and Ahmed Hegazi - their presence up front is minimal. If they want to survive at this level then they need more.

Baggies look well set for crack at promotion

Darren Moore's outfit tonight looked like a side that have everything that is needed to be successful in the Championship: they are defensively solid, built around two very good central defenders; hold a permanent, ruthless threat in attack with Gayle, Rodriguez et al; and have that nous and experience to hold the side together in any sticky moments in the shape of Brunt and Gareth Barry.

With players such as Wes Hoolahan and Bakary Sako unable to force their way into the starting eleven at present, they will surely be challenging for automatic promotion right until the end of the season.

Set-pieces a weakness for Trotters

Considering the size of the Trotters' side, they are both far too susceptible to dead ball situations defensively, whilst also failing to make their physicality count offensively.

With players such as Beevers, Jack Hobbs, Sammy Ameobi and Clayton Donaldson in their armoury then they possess the potential to be a real threat from such situations, yet too often they either failed to beat the first man or were unable to react to knock-downs and second balls.

Their promotion from League One was built on being a big, strong side who were always a threat from corners and free-kicks. Considering they will not pass teams into submission, they must fully make the most of times they can get the ball into the box.

Player of the match - Jay Rodriguez

Players like Rodriguez are the reason West Brom will be at the top of the division all season.

He possesses the quality that is needed to score goals and win games in an incredibly competitive league, and a goal and an assist tonight just highlights his class. With attackers like him in your team you always have a chance of getting a goal.