Town suffered a 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at The County Ground this afternoon after the visitors struck late on to take all three points.
It was an end-to-end first-half with both the Robins and the Trotters trying their luck in-front of goal, and it took a brilliant save from Lawrence Vigouroux to keep the scores level heading in at the interval.
The second-half was similar to the first with Vigouroux having to make a string of fine saves, but Bolton eventually made the breakthrough and grabbed a late winner courtesy of Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill's own goal.
With Jon Obika injured, Luke Norris was given the opportunity to lead the line alongside Nathan Delfouneso for the second game running.
The Reds made five changes in total from Tuesday night’s Checkatrade Trophy shootout success over Oxford United, with Lawrence Vigouroux, Nathan Thompson, Yaser Kasim, John Goddard and Sean Murray all being restored to the starting line-up.
It was a cagey start to proceedings at SN1 although both sides did have an opportunity to open the scoring in the early exchanges.
Yaser Kasim sent his long-range free-kick into the arms of Bolton keeper Mark Howard before James Henry could only bend his shot around the post.
Raphael Rossi-Branco then did brilliantly to produce a last ditch tackle to prevent a Bolton attacker from pulling the trigger inside the box.
Nathan Delfouneso’s header dropped wide of the goal as Town attempted to get their noses in-front, and they tried their luck moments later when Luke Norris blasted wide.
The game was threatening to burst into life and there was so nearly an opener for the visitors just shy of the half-hour mark when Tom Thorpe hammered a half-volley inches over the bar after Town failed to clear their lines from a corner.
Sean Murray then fired a shot over the bar from distance before Lawrence Vigouroux produced a superb stop to somehow divert Henry’s goal-bound effort away from danger with his legs.
Henry could and perhaps should have had a first-half hat-trick but he was enduring a frustrating afternoon in front of goal, sending a tame header over the bar after a cross was deflected into his path.
However, for all of their opportunities in the final-third, neither side were able to make the breakthrough before half-time.
Bolton made a bright start to the second-half and were inches away from taking the lead moments after the restart after Jay Spearing’s pile-driver was deflected just past the post.
Town soon grew into a rhythm though and enjoyed plenty of possession inside the Bolton half, with Goddard flashing a shot just wide.
However, Vigouroux had to be alert at the opposite end of the pitch in order to push a well-struck Zach Clough free-kick over the bar.
Clever link-up play between Murray and Delfouneso failed to result in anything with both sides still searching for the opening goal of the game.
And Vigouroux was called upon again soon after to deny Clough once more after the young Bolton forward was picked out in acres of space inside the area.
Murray’s long-range free-kick proved to be a comfortable stop for Howard before Vigouroux was called into action once again, this time to push a Jamie Proctor shot out for a corner.
However, Bolton’s pressure eventually told and they took the lead with five minutes remaining after a tame effort took a hefty deflection off Ormonde-Ottewill before rolling into the back of the net.
And that proved to be enough with Bolton seeing out the rest of the game to secure all three points, whilst the home side were reduced to ten men in the dying minutes after Raphael Rossi-Branco was shown a straight red card.
TEAMS AND STATS:
Brandon Ormonde-Ottewill (OG)SCORERS - (85).
TOWN - Vigouroux; Rossi-Branco, Thompson (C), Thomas (James Brophy 52); Furlong, Kasim, Murray, Goddard, Ormonde-Ottewill; Delfouneso, Norris.
Subs Not Used - Henry, Rodgers, Smith, Evans, Twine.
BOLTON WANDERERS - Howard; Wilson, Wheater, Beevers, Taylor; Thorpe, Spearing; Henry (Sammy Ameobi 60), Vela, Clough (Keshi Anderson 80); Madine (Jamie Proctor 73).
Subs Not Used - Alnwick, Osede, Trotter, Perry.
REFEREE - Neil Swarbrick.
TOWN - Nathan Delfouneso, John Goddard.
BOLTON WANDERERS - Gary Madine, David Wheater.
Raphael Rossi-Branco. SENT-OFF -
ATTENDANCE - 7,023