Nottingham Forest ended the season with a win, their third in a row, after a 1-0 victory over crisis-club Bolton Wanderers at the City Ground this afternoon.
The game had been thrown into doubt when already-relegated Bolton had postponed their game against Brentford after their players had gone on strike over a wages dispute. Enough issues were ultimately resolved for the game to go ahead and Forest took full advantage, winning it thanks to a 28th minute goal from Joe Lolley.
The first real opening went the way of Forest inside the eighth minute. Joao Carvalho sent a teasing ball across the box from the left wing and Sam Byram knocked it back into the six-yard box but Bolton managed to hack the ball away from safety.
Bolton responded with a chance of their own moments later, however. Will Buckley’s ball in from the right eventually made its way to Joe Pritchard at the edge of the area and his low effort was blocked by the outstretched leg of Byram.
Burly Bolton forward Josh Magennis was next to try his luck as he fired an effort on goal from distance that Luke Steele got down well to comfortably save.
Joe Lolley was crowned Forest’s Player of the Year this week and he almost got an assist to his name as his ball into the box found Matty Cash but his effort was blocked inside the Bolton area.
Lolley showed just why he is a deserving winner of that award just before the half hour mark as he fired Forest in front. Ben Osborn’s cross from the left somehow made its way to the former-Huddersfield man at the far post and he took a touch before dragging a low shot past Matthews and into the bottom corner.
In the 65th minute, Forest almost scored a wonderful second as their dynamic front three combined. Carvalho played the ball through for Lolley down the right flank and he pulled the ball back to Lewis Grabban. Forest’s top ‘scorer produced a moment of neat foot work to skip past his man only to see his shot blocked by Andrew Taylor.
With 15 minutes to go, the Reds were continuing to push for another goal and Adlene Guedioura almost produced it as he latched onto Carvalho’s flicked pass before seeing a low shot held well by Matthews.
Despite already being relegated, Bolton were not going down without a fight and they had a great chance to draw level in the 86th minute. Gary O’Neil delivered a ball onto the head of Josh Magennis at the back post but his timid header was easily saved by Steele.
FOREST XI (3-4-2-1): Steele (GK); Wague, Milosevic, Robinson ©; Byram, Cash, Yates Osborn; Carvalho (Appiah 84’), Lolley (Murphy 67’); Grabban (Guedioura 75’)
SUBS NOT USED: Pantilimon (GK), Figueiredo, Watson, Yacob
BOLTON XI: Matthews (GK), Taylor, Buckley, Noone (Darcy 70’), Hobbs ©, Connolly, O’Neil, Magennis, Grounds, Pritchard (Earing 77’), Brockbank
SUBS NOT USED: Turner (GK), Little, Oztumer, Donaldson, Johnson
REFEREE: Oliver Langford
ATTENDANCE: 27,578 (578 away)