Bolton Wanderers prevailed 2-1 to condemn Cheltenham Town to their first home defeat in two months at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium.
Kieran Sadlier gave Bolton the lead on 57 minutes when he turned Jon Bodvarsson’s cross past Scott Flinders at his near post.
Oladapo Afolayan was upended inside the box by Lewis Freestone and Amadou Bakayoko converted the resulting spot-kick to double Bolton’s advantage with 15 minutes remaining.
Aaron Ramsey scored his first goal for the Robins in the 89th minute to set-up an electrifying climax but Bolton held onto secure the win.
Michael Duff rung the chances following Monday’s 3-0 defeat at Lincoln City. George Lloyd was deployed at right-wing back, Mattie Pollock returned to the defence and Liam Sercombe and Elliot Bonds were reinstated into midfield.
Cheltenham offered promise in the opening exchanges – pinning Bolton deep inside their own half and constructing several moves down the right. Bolton found their groove soon after and suffocated Cheltenham with their high press at times.
Will Boyle looked to shepherd the ball out of play but Bodvarsson showed great determination to steal the ball at the by-line. The Icelandic forward squared for Sadlier but the Bolton winger blazed a golden chance over the crossbar.
Afolayan thundered his volley from range wide of the target and Flinders thwarted Sadlier at his near post as Bolton looked the likeliest side to open the scoring in a first half with limited opportunities.
But the best chance of the first period fell to Alfie May, who was unable to add to his tally of 21 league goals. Etete elegantly knocked the ball into space and slotted a beautiful through ball into the path of May. He was tentative when baring down on goal and James Trafford made an impressive save to deny him from close-range.
Bolton got their breakthrough shortly before the hour-mark when Sadlier prodded the ball into the bottom corner at the near post. Morley floated his corner into the danger area, Boyle just missed his header, and Bodvarsson crossed low for Sadlier to knock his finish past Flinders.
A heated battle between Freestone and Afolayan was developing throughout the second half. Freestone was penalised for hauling down Afolayan inside the penalty area and substitute Bakayoko stepped up to double their lead with a confident finish from 12 yards.
Ramsey was introduced during the final 10 minutes and scored his first goal for the club to reduce the arrears in the final minute of normal time. He set out on a slaloming run before dispatching an unerring strike past Trafford, which set-up an intense finale.
Cheltenham went in desperate search of an equaliser with the home crowd roaring them on, but despite the five minutes of additional time, the Robins succumbed to just their second home defeat of 2022.
CHELTENHAM TOWN: S Flinders; G Lloyd (C Brown 82), S Long, M Pollock, W Boyle (c), L Freestone; L Sercombe (a Ramsey 86), C Wright, E Bonds; K Etete (A Williams 82), A May.
SUBS NOT USED: O Evans, C Raglan, R Hutchinson, E Chapman, A Ramsey, C Brown, A Williams.
BOLTON WANDERERS: J Trafford; G Jones (c), W Aimson, G Johnston; K Sadlier (A Bakayoko 69), J Williams (K Dempsey 46), A Morley, D John; O Afolayan; D Charles (E Kachunga 69), J Bodvarsson.
SUBS NOT USED: J Dixon, A Baptiste, X Amaechi, L Gordon.
Attendance: 5,228 (1,378)
Referee: Neil Hair