ANTONI Sarcevic and Dapo Afolayan struck for Wanderers as they fended off stiff opposition from struggling Shrewsbury to claim a second League One win in five days.

Two brilliant goals in five minutes midway through the first half put Ian Evatt’s men in cruise control at the UniBol – but the manner of victory proved much more complicated.

Joel Dixon saved a second-half penalty from Ryan Bowman and Luke Leahy curled in a late free kick, given in controversial circumstances.

But Wanderers – for whom Ricardo Santos was magnificent at centre-back – held on for another encouraging win to keep them in the promotion picture.

Shrewsbury won’t have been too disappointed with the start they made in the game, peppering the Bolton box with a series of crosses and set pieces.

George Johnston – back in the side for Alex Baptiste – made one crucial block from Shaun Whalley as he blasted a shot at goal from the edge of the penalty box, and his centre-back partner Ricardo Santos did likewise to deny Ryan Bowman and Daniel Udoh a few moments later.

Whalley went close with a near-post flick from Bowman’s left-wing cross on 17 minutes, at which point Wanderers had looked a little off the pace.

But it was after defending a corner that Sarcevic gave them the injection of energy they needed, the captain picking the ball up 30 yards out, charging forward, and smashing a shot into the top corner past Marko Marosi.

Afolayan had one sighter before putting Wanderers two up. But the beauty of the second goal at the UniBol was as much in the team press which forced keeper Marosi into a hurried clearance, worked to the winger, and also in an excellent advantage from referee Marc Edwards, as he skipped past three challenges to curl a shot into the bottom corner.

At that stage you worried for Shrewsbury, as Bolton started producing the party tricks. To the visitors’ credit, however, they continued to chip away and ensure that Johnston, Santos and Co had to work hard to preserve the clean sheet.

Thankfully, both centre-halves were in imperious form. Joel Dixon’s only concern of the half had been rushing back to his goal-line after sweeping up and skewing a header towards Elliott Bennett. But on the stroke of half time Shrewsbury gave Bolton a telling reminder that they were still in a game as Santos was needed to clear Bennett’s effort off the line.

Evatt switched Gethin Jones for Lloyd Isgrove at half time, matching up the visitors’ system with three at the back.

Bolton could have grabbed a third as Lee, then Afolayan tested Marosi.

Shrewsbury got their chance to get back into the game, however, when Whalley was tripped by Sarcevic just inside the penalty box, leaving ref Edwards with little choice but to point to the spot.

Thankfully for Wanderers, Dixon had done his homework and stood up for Bowman’s penalty, punching it clear from near enough the centre of his goal.

Evatt was able to bring on Amadou Bakayoko for his first action since mid-August, and Wanderers had chances to put the game out of sight with Marosi making saves from Kachunga and his own defender Aaron Pierre, in what would have been a freak own goal.

The Shrews kept on pushing. And they got on the scoresheet with a Luke Leahy free kick a minute from time after referee Edwards had seemingly over-ruled an offside decision by his own assistant and given a foul against Santos on the edge of his own box.

That made for a nervous couple of minutes in injury time but Bolton managed to hold on to a win which keeps them seventh in the table.