Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Leeds United

Michael Steele

Bolton Wanderers came into the marquee fixture of Leeds United at home in desperate need of three points to get their already faltering season underway. Many of the Wanderers fans came into the game hoping that a week off for the international rounds of fixtures could allow the manager to address the problems within the team.

Dougie Freedman shuffled his pack in attempt to solve their defensive woes. This included the return of Matt Mills, his first start since December as well as fullback Tyrone Mears being replaced by Marc Tierney with Alex Baptiste switching back to the right. American defender Tim Ream was deployed in the defensive midfield role in which he impressed in the home defeat to Queens Park Rangers while Chris Eagles also started in place of former Leeds United front man Jermaine Beckford.

A hefty Leeds following in good voice were given all the more reason to cheer after only six minutes. A poor Bogdan clearance saw Zat Knight concede a needless corner. Luke Varney effortless lost his man, Alex Baptiste, and took advantage of a wonderful corner to head home with almost no time having passed in the match minutes. Too Easy.

Bolton attempted to pick themselves up but lacked any real threat. Perennial try-hard Chris Eagles fired wildly from distance. French striker David N'Gog was then heavily involved firstly digging out an effort from the left hand side of goal that tricked wide past Paddy Kenny's left-hand post. Moments later Bolton were given a golden chance as Darren Pratley was gifted the ball in the final third, with N'Gog in support, the midfielder then took the wrong option to delay the pass and by the time N'Gog received the ball the chance had all but gone. The former Liverpool man still managed to get a tame effort away but was adjudged to have handled the ball in the process.

Bolton lacked the ability to create a clear cut chance and Leeds United continued to look dangerous both in possession and on the break. Noel Hunt came close with a ball played across the box. Throughout the game, former Cardiff Striker Ross McCormack was looking lively and seemed to be finding gaps between Wanderers defenders at ease. McCormack is a player who always seems available to receive a pass, which I believe is precisely what the Wanderers lack. Bolton's play constantly breaks down as it almost seems the players do not want to receive the ball, as though they were a team very short on confidence.

It was McCormack who was to have two chances before half time to compound Bolton's troubles. Firstly, McCormack failed to convert a cross, only sending the ball over Adam Bogdan's cross bar. The Scottish Striker was soon the provider, setting up Luke Varney after Leeds were gifted a golden chance after a mistake from Tim Ream. Vaughan, one-on-one with Hungarian International Goalkeeper Adam Bogdan, could only manage to steer the ball wide from the corner of the penalty area and Bolton were lucky to go into half time at just one goal down.

The second half took time to come to life as the earlier periods of the stanza could be defined only by deserved yellow cards to Matt Mills and Jay Spearing as Bolton were working hard with no real reward. The game needed an injection and on 70 minutes, it was given it with the introduction of promising winger Rob Hall had an instant impact. With the 19-year-old darting through and after smart work also from Chung-Yong Lee, the passage of play resulted in a blocked Jermaine Beckford effort.

Leeds continued to be a threat with Luke Murphy having a couple of efforts on goal and Tim Ream having to make an awkward-looking clearance over Adam Bogdan's crossbar.

In the final minutes, Bolton did search for the elusive equaliser, after good work from Beckford and N'Gog, the former could only manage to fire wide as the frustration of the Wanderers fans reverberated around the Reebok Stadium.

A generous five minutes added time was indicated by the fourth official as Bolton continued to push for a goal. Chances would come too. Darren Pratley was played in only to see his near post strike pushed onto the post. Chung-Yong Lee would also waste a decent opportunity by firing harmlessly wide after good work to create the space.

A very tough afternoon from Bolton and many of the problems of weeks previous were evident again today. It is very difficult to see where the problem lies, for me a big issue is the ball does not seem to ‘stick' in the final third and panic does seem to set in. A team very low on confidence.

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