Bolton edge past Barnsley in nerve-shredding tie to reach Wembley

Bolton reached the Sky Bet League One play-off final as they edged past Barnsley 5-4 on aggregate.

Leading 3-1 from the first leg of their semi-final, Bolton were determined to get the job done and overcome the side that knocked them out at this same stage last season, and they just about saw it through despite losing 3-2 in the second leg.

There were some nerves as Sam Cosgrove nodded Barnsley back into the tie, but goals from Aaron Collins and Eoin Toal before half-time seemingly took the game beyond the Tykes.

Barnsley then set up a grandstand finish thanks to goals from Adam Phillips and a Cosgrove second, but Bolton saw it out to reach Wembley.

Barnsley win second leg at the Toughsheet, but Bolton do just enough

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Eoin Toal gave Bolton a 2-1 lead

Barnsley had it all to do at the Toughsheet to try and get to the final just as they did last year, and it looked promising on 36 minutes as John McAtee smartly crossed for Cosgrove to head in.

But by half-time, Bolton had turned it around, as Collins whipped a fine shot in from 25 yards, before Toal nodded in from close range from a corner to complete the turnaround on the night.

Barnsley were handed a lifeline as a Ricardo Santos error allowed them to sweep forward and find Phillips, who then saw his striker deflect off the Trotters’ captain and in. Cosgrove scored a second to give the Tykes hope, but it wasn’t to be, as Bolton crawled over the line.

Bolton will now face Peterborough or Oxford in the final at Wembley for a place in the Championship, with the second leg of that tie taking place on Wednesday night – live on Sky Sports Football from 7.30pm; kick-off 8pm.

What’s next?

Bolton advance to the Sky Bet League One play-off final, where they will face either Peterborough or Oxford at Wembley on Saturday May 18.

Barnsley will remain in the third tier for the 2024/25 campaign.

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