Bolton take advantage in first-leg win at Barnsley

Dion Charles' double gave Bolton Wanderers the advantage over Barnsley as they earned a League One play-off semi-final first-leg win at Oakwell.

Wanderers went ahead when Charles slid the ball home from close range courtesy of a stunning Paris Maghoma cross and he doubled his tally from the penalty spot after Barnsley keeper Liam Roberts brought down Josh Sheehan.

Barnsley looked to have kept themselves in contention for the second leg courtesy of Sam Cosgrove's perfectly executed finish from inside the box with 15 minutes remaining.

But Randell Williams scored direct from a corner deep into injury time to put Bolton in control heading into Tuesday's second leg.

Barnsley and Bolton came into the tie having faced each other in the League One play-offs last season, with the Tykes advancing to the final.

A year on and in the curtain-raiser to this season's EFL play-offs, the hosts were in much different shape, having limped their way into sixth spot on the final day shortly after boss Neill Collins was sacked prior to their last game of the regular season.

Interim boss Martin Devaney led them to the 1-1 draw against Northampton that secured their play-off place, but following an unconvincing display against the Cobblers they were undone early on at Oakwell courtesy of some slick build-up work from Bolton.

Maghoma linked up with Josh Dacres-Cogley and exchanged passes with Aaron Collins deep inside the Barnsley half before whipping in a pinpoint cross to Charles, who smashed into the roof of the net from just inside the six-yard box.

Bolton sealed home advantage for the return leg this time around, having narrowly missed out on automatic promotion during a thrilling battle with eventual champions Portsmouth and second-placed Derby County.

Any sign that they had run out of steam coming into the end-of-season play-offs were batted away given the manner of Charles' opener, but they struggled to create more chances prior to the break.

Crucially for the hosts they kept the game from getting away from them despite a lacklustre first half, but Bolton doubled their advantage courtesy of a clumsy piece of defending soon after the break.

Tykes captain Jordan Williams misjudged his header back to Roberts, after which the goalkeeper awkwardly brought down Sheehan, leading to referee Will Finnie pointing to the spot.

Roberts guessed right and got a hand to Charles' powerful penalty but could not stop the Northern Ireland international scoring his 20th goal of the season.

The hosts were fortunate not to concede again soon after as Bolton, whipping in their first corner almost an hour into the game, had Ricardo Santos' header ruled out for offside.

Barnsley got themselves back in it as Cosgrove came off the bench to work in behind Eoin Toal to strike home, and they could have been level when Bolton keeper Nathan Baxter dived to deny Adam Phillips moments later.

There was late drama to come, however, as Williams - who had scored a 98th-minute leveller against the Tykes at Oakwell in the league in March - swung a corner into the box which Barnsley failed to pick up before it sailed into the net.

Barnsley interim manager Martin Devaney told BBC Radio Sheffield:

"I thought we played some really good stuff in spells, especially the second half. Our striker was off the pitch for the first goal, we've got to defend that better.

The second one is a mistake and the third one I thought was a foul on the edge of the box on Sam and then they've scored from a corner which is disappointing.

"It's the play-offs and everyone's on edge a bit so we've got to manage that a bit better. There's still a lot to play for, I thought there was some really good football in there from us at times."

Bolton Wanderers boss Ian Evatt told BBC Radio Manchester:

"I think for 75 minutes it was a very good, controlled away display. We managed the environment really well, we knew they'd come out aggressively and we'd have to play over the press a little bit more than we usually do.

"I thought we had complete control and we deserved the two-goal lead and then a lapse in concentration - because they're consistently asking you questions - changed the momentum a little bit and we had to weather a storm and dig in.

"I'm delighted we managed to get the third because overall I thought we deserved the two-goal lead."