REPORT | ARGYLE 3 BOLTON WANDERERS 0
Bolton Wanderers 0
A wonderful first half followed by a disciplined second ensured Argyle retained top spot in Sky Bet League One.
The Pilgrims were simply unplayable in the opening stages, breaking the deadlock with a clever finish from Brendan Galloway and Conor Grant doubled the lead with a scorcher on 15 minutes.
Argyle continued to create chances at will with no further reward before half-time and then dampened any hopes of a Bolton fightback in ever-decreasing conditions after the break, adding last-minute gloss to the result through Ryan Broom.
Argyle manager Ryan Lowe made two changes from the weekend win at Oxford, Galloway replaced Macaulay Gillesphey at the back and Ryan Hardie returned from sickness to partner Jordon Garrick in attack, with Luke Jephcott on the bench.
Bolton boss Ian Evatt made three alterations from the loss at home to Wigan, with former Pilgrims Antoni Sarcevic and Will Aimson among the visiting substitutes.
On a wet and wild night at Home Park, a fabulous sweeping Argyle move involving Panutche Camara, Garrick and Broom culminated in a fizzing low cross from Grant that Bolton somehow scrambled for a corner.
No matter, the deep delivery was headed back across goal by Dan Scarr and Galloway brilliantly flicked the loose ball into the corner of the net, giving Joel Dixon no chance in the Bolton goal.
Alert goalkeeping from Mike Cooper, racing off his line to smother a ball over the top for Oladapo Afolayan, quelled the immediate Bolton riposte.
The Greens soon returned to the other end for a superb second, as a short corner routine was worked to Grant 22 yards from goal and his drilled left-shot skidded across the surface to flash inside the far post.
It was another outstanding goal from a team overflowing with belief, with leading scorer Ryan Hardie looking to join the party, but Dixon made a good low save after a sharp turn and shot from Argyle’s leading scorer.
Hardie next tried to pick out Garrick from the left channel, cleared under huge pressure by George Johnstone. Two more desperate blocks denied Broom and Garrick efforts from the rampaging Greens.
A robust tackle from Amadou Bakayoko on the imperious Jordan Houghton summed up Bolton’s frustration, with Argyle winning their battles in midfield and electric in attack.
There was no respite for the visitors, Camara curling a 20-yarder into the arms of Dixon, and when Bolton did make some headway, James Wilson, Scarr and Galloway looked in control at the back.
Captain Joe Edwards completed a top quality first half with a sneaky near-post left-foot shot that was turned wide by the beleaguered Dixon, after another searching Grant cross.
Wanderers had to start fast after the break but Argyle did a fine job in stifling any momentum, with the Pilgrim work-ethic typified by Garrick winning possession in his own half. Afolayan did warm Cooper’s hand with a drive from the edge of the box.
Bolton turned to Sarcevic for Kieran Lee on the hour and he was given a fine reception by the Green Army, but Argyle were soon back in the attacking groove, Galloway surging down the left for a bobbling cross met by Camara on the half-volley and he was desperately unlucky to see his effort bounce away off the post.
Bakayoko replied with a fine break of his own and the driven cross was bravely blocked by Cooper with boots flying in the rain. Elias Kachunga and Eoin Doyle were the next two attacking changes for Bolton.
Sarcevic then steered wide the best chance of the night for the visitors, surging inside from the left before narrowly missing the target.
Jephcott for Garrick was the next Argyle switch and he soon flicked a pass into the path of Hardie for a shot charged down. Cooper turned wide a Josh Sheehan free-kick before an almost comical final goal.
Mayor skipped past the onrushing Dixon and was about to roll into an empty net when the ball stopped in the saturated surface, Hardie suffered the same fate before Broom managed to complete an enjoyable and soggy night.
Argyle (3-5-2): 1 Mike Cooper (gk); 5 James Wilson, 6 Dan Scarr, 22 Brendon Galloway; 8 Joe Edwards (capt), 28 Panutche Camara (10 Danny Mayor 72), 4 Jordan Houghton, 7 Ryan Broom, 15 Conor Grant; 14 Jordon Garrick (31 Luke Jephcott 79), 9 Ryan Hardie. Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillesphey, 18 Kieran Agard, 20 Adam Randell, 27 Ryan Law.
Booked: Galloway 90
Bolton Wanderers (4-3-3): 12 Joel Dixon (gk); 21 Harry Brockbank, 6 George Johnstone (capt), 27 Alex Baptiste, 29 Liam Gordon; 20 Kieran Lee (10 Antoni Sarcevic 62), 4 Jordan Williams, 8 Josh Sheehan; 23 Lloyd Isgrove (24 Elias Kachunga 66), 17 Oladapo Afolayan, 11 Amadou Bakayoko (9 Eoin Doyle 66). Substitutes (not used): 1 Matt Gilks (gk), 7 Nathan Delfouneso, 15 Will Aimson, 25 George Thomason.
Booked: Bakayoko 32
Attendance: 12,813 (708)
Referee: Keith Stroud