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Report: Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Bristol City

City let a two-goal lead slip to fall to a second successive defeat on the road.

Steven Davies’ first-half brace had Derek McInnes’ side well on their way to a memorable result, but Chris Eagles’ well-struck low free kick sparked a shift in momentum. 

Bolton came out after half-time with a spring in their step, deservedly levelling just after the hour through Jay Spearing before Martin Petrov struck the winner eight minutes from time. 

It was harsh on City, who admittedly came under heavy pressure at times, but were surely deserving of at least a point from a spirited display. 

Derek McInnes handed a second City debut to central defender Stephen McManus, signed on loan from Middlesbrough in midweek, who also enjoyed a brief spell at Ashton Gate last season. 

Meanwhile, there were recalls for Martyn Woolford and Davies at the expense of Jody Morris and Ryan Taylor, who both dropped to the bench. 

In action for the first time since the departure of Owen Coyle as manager, Bolton were rocked by Davies’ spectacular early opener. 

Albert Adomah’s corner was played short to Woolford, before the ball was laid back to Stephen Pearson on the left angle of the penalty area. 

The former Derby County midfielder set himself before sending a teasing centre towards the back post. 

The ball dropped slightly behind Pearson’s fellow ex-Ram, but Davies adjusted his body to connect with an acrobatic left-footed volley back across rooted Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan and into the bottom corner for a wonderfully taken goal. 

City then had to weather a temporary storm, with the hosts posing an obvious threat from set-pieces as has been the case since the heady heights of European football under Sam Allardyce not so long ago. 

But weather the storm they did, and the Robins doubled their lead on 21 minutes from the penalty spot. 

Adomah led a breakaway charge, running at one-time England left-back Stephen Warnock. But when the winger’s shot was blocked, it was the man from the opposite flank, Woolford, who was first to react. 

Sneaking in front of Bolton’s Tim Ream, the former Scunthorpe United man was brought down by a clumsy sliding challenge leaving referee Mark Brown little option but to award a spot-kick. 

After a prolonged discussion between Davies and Sam Baldock, it was the man with the golden left foot who confidently strode forward and sent Bogdan the wrong way for his fourth goal of the season. 

City were sitting pretty, but were pegged back ten minutes later by Eagles’ driven low free kick after he was adjudged to have been fouled by Louis Carey. 

The home side had their tails up, and might have drawn level when the ball dropped to Liverpool loanee Spearing in the box, whose driven cross evaded everyone in the six-yard box after a tussle between Cole Skuse and Benik Afobe had the locals claiming a penalty of their own. 

Bolton started the second half on the front foot determined to draw level, twice coming close in the opening five minutes. 

First, Petrov was offered far too much time to pick out Mark Davies on the penalty spot only for the midfielder to drag the ball wide, before Petrov let fly with a shot of his own which had to be dealt with by Tom Heaton at his near post. 

The City stopper was again called into action, as Davies looped a header goalwards which Afobe looked to redirect goalwards from almost point-blank range, but Heaton got enough on the ball to preserve his side’s lead. 

But the reprieve was short lived, as Kevin Davies turned neatly and slipped the ball through the City defence for Spearing to run clear and slide the ball home. 

As the game wore on City looked more and more inclined to settle for a point, with Heaton called upon to keep Petrov and Afobe at bay. 

But eight minutes from time the killer blow arrived, as a slick passing move again opened up a gaping hole in the City backline inviting Petrov to stroll through and neatly pass the bouncing ball into the far corner. 

If McInnes was in two minds whether to stick or twist at 2-2, he was no longer in doubt and his team poured forward desperate to salvage something from a game they had led for so long. 

Baldock’s downward header from Richard Foster’s right-wing cross drifted wide before Brett Pitman was introduced for the closing stages. 

There was still time for fellow substitute Ryan Taylor to head across goal in search of Pearson, but the ball arrived too quickly for the Scot to divert it on target, and City’s brave contribution to an entertaining game went unrewarded.