Crisis club Bolton bowed out of the Sky Bet Championship with a whimper as a patched together side suffered a 1-0 defeat at Nottingham Forest.
Martin O’Neill’s side notched three consecutive wins for the first time since December 2016 as Joe Lolley’s 12th goal of the campaign earned them a narrow 1-0 success at the City Ground.
Bolton, condemned to a 15th away defeat of the campaign, are contemplating a future in League One with the ownership of the club still up in the air.
Their players had ended a strike – staged in protest following the late payment of wages – to play the game, but it was Forest who claimed the spoils.
The Reds had more of the ball in the opening exchanges, but it was Bolton who were first to threaten as Harry Brockbank’s shot from just inside the box was well blocked.
Forest goalkeeper Luke Steele had to make a decent save, diving low to his right, when Josh Magennis let fly from range.
The Reds responded as Matty Cash had an effort cleared off the line following a great cross from Lolley.
Lolley himself then forced the first save of the game from Remi Matthews, who did well to read his curling shot.
It was Lolley who broke the deadlock in the 28th minute. Ben Osborn fired a low ball across the penalty area to the winger, who took a touch before lashing a composed finish beyond Matthews inside the near post to claim his 12th goal of the season.
Sam Byram came close to adding a second from a Cash corner but saw his header loop wide.
Forest twice threatened again, firstly as Cash drove in a powerful free-kick which was blocked for a corner and then a Byram header which flew narrowly wide.
This was a typical end-of-season affair and it took 16 minutes of the second half before the game offered up anything of note, with Magennis hitting a shot from range that was always flying high and wide.
Forest sparked back into life as Lolley fed Lewis Grabban in the box. His neat side-step gave him the room to shoot, but his effort was blocked.
Sub Adlene Guedioura also came close to netting a second for Forest, with a driven low shot that Matthews did well to hold.
But Forest were still struggling to find momentum, with Steele having to make a smart save to deny Magennis as he attacked a far-post header with great purpose to preserve the home side’s lead.
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