Buckley and Connolly on target to give Bolton crucial win at QPR
Bolton raised hopes of staging a great escape from relegation with a vital 2-1 Sky Bet Championship victory over QPR at Loftus Road.
Wanderers, second-from-bottom of the table and beset by problems off the pitch, went ahead through Will Buckley’s goal, with Callum Connolly doubling their lead with 19 minutes remaining.
A left-footed strike from Nahki Wells gave the home side of salvaging a draw but they were unable to find an equaliser in the closing stages.
Struggling Rangers, with just one league win since Boxing Day, have now lost 11 of their past 14 matches and are not completely safe from the drop themselves.
The home side made most of the early running and almost opened the scoring when Luke Freeman hit a post.
It was Freeman, however, who played a part in Bolton taking the lead against the run of play 10 minutes before half-time when he gave the ball away.
Freeman’s attempted to pass to Massimo Luongo was intercepted by Sammy Ameobi, who then laid the ball off to Joe Williams near the right-hand edge of the penalty area.
When Josh Magennis’ header from the resulting cross by Williams was parried by Joe Lumley, Buckley was on hand to score from close range.
Freeman, captain in the absence of the dropped Toni Leistner, had been QPR’s stand-out player up to that point.
A low corner delivered by Freeman from the right later led to confusion in the Bolton box, Pawel Wszolek laid the ball back to the Rangers playmaker, who side-footed against the woodwork.
Freeman also steered a free-kick narrowly wide of the target and saw a left-footed effort saved by keeper Remi Matthews.
After dominating much of the first half, Rangers had every reason to believe they could launch a comeback in the second.
They were fortunate, though, not to concede a second goal five minutes before doing so when Buckley blasted against the underside of the bar after being found by Ameobi’s low cross.
Ameobi was then involved in the second goal, which came after another parry by Lumley.
The keeper could only palm Ameobi’s low shot as far as Connolly, who helped himself to his third goal since being signed on a season-long loan from Everton.
With nine minutes remaining striker Wells, on as a substitute, cut in from the right and fired past Matthews.
Bolton then endured an anxious finish to hold on for three crucial points in their battle for survival.