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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 3 v Millwall 1

Bolton Wanderers still have one of the most talented squads in their division, at least on paper. The optimists have aways thought it would only be a matter of time until they would show it. The optimists may finally be right.

Chris Brunskill

Bolton Wanderers came into Saturdays home fixture with Steve Lomas' Millwall looking to record consecutive wins for the first time this season. The Trotters had not recorded a victory at home and this was seen by many as a great opportunity to finally get the wheels of this season turning. Bolton also welcomed a couple of former players back to the Reebok. Liam Feeney was named on the bench for Millwall and the imposing Danny Shittu (who appears even bigger nowadays if that is possible) was in the starting XI.

Bolton lined up in a 4-5-1 formation with Rob Hall coming into the fray at the expense of David Ngog. Dougie Freedman was looking to inject some liveliness into a squad which is beginning to show real rigidity. It seemed a little harsh on Ngog after his goal at AFC Bournemouth last week but Bolton were likely to see a lot more of the ball at home given the lack of pace in Millwall's defence.

As they have done often this season, Bolton started brightly and after creating two early chances, found themselves ahead within 5 minutes. It was a fantastic move, started by Jay Spearing, who found Jermaine Beckford, whose flick allowed Chung-Yong Lee to find space and pick out Rob Hall to fire home his first league Bolton goal. This was a goal that likely brought Hall personal delight due to his West Ham United affiliations. Millwall were furious as they believed the game should have been stopped for a head injury on the half way line.

After Wanderers' bright start, the game became a midfield battle as Millwall worked hard to claw their way back. Danny Shittu was having a battle with Jermaine Beckford as the Jamaican striker's movement was causing the big centre back some issues. Medo Kamara also saw an effort from distance blocked as did Martyn Waghorn for the visitors. Millwall's' battling style was effective and on 26 minutes they had their equaliser. Lions' defender Shane Lowry's pass found a free Jermaine Easter and the former Crystal Palace striker made no mistake, punishing his former manager with a finish above the on-rushing Wanderers goalkeeper, Andy Lonergan. This was particularly disappointing as Bolton were much better than they had been in previous home matches and will be kicking themselves for conceding in the manner they did.

For the home side, the job then was to regain the lead and within moments it looked as though they had. Beckford fired narrowly wide but many Wanderers fans, your writer included, thought the former Leeds striker had found David Forde's near top corner. As half time approached, Bolton had Millwall pinned down but could not find a way to break through. In an effort to build from the back, Matt Mills played the short option. The move developed when Tim Ream broke lines and charged into midfield. The American defender then played a pass of real quality into the path of the magnificent Beckford, who clipped the ball over Republic of Ireland goalkeeper David Forde to give the Wanderers a half-time lead.

The second half started in somewhat chaotic fashion as huge gaps opened in the Millwall defense. Wanderers were unable to capitalize. A Beckford shot was blocked by man-mountain Danny Shittu, then Jermaine ‘fired' an effort from forty yards that bearly reached Forde in the Millwall goal.

The game then settled somewhat and it was clear the Bolton still had some work to do if they were to secure their first home win of this campaign. Jermaine Easter managed to steer a header goalwards only to be denied a second goal by a fine stop from Andy Lonergan, who has done very well since stepping in for the injured Hungarian International Adam Bogdan.

Sensing an opportunity to get back in the game, Millwall brought on Liam Feeney, back at the club after a cut-short successful loan spell at the Reebok. The midfielder received a notably warm reception and quite rightly too, he has been one of the positives of a poor season so far. Bolton reacted by attempting to add some fresh attacking impetus themselves with Brazilian Andre Moritz entering the fray in place of the fizzled out but impressive, Rob Hall.

The Brazilian nearly made his mark immediately as he found Beckford who rounded the goalkeeper but shot wide of the near post, a glaring miss that would have guaranteed the Whites a much needed three points. Millwall continued to put pressure on the Wanderers and brought on former Norwich City striker Steve Morrison. After seeing Shittu knockdown a header and provide Nicky Bailey with a half-chance, Dougie Freedman reacted with the independent introductions of both Wales International forward Craig Davies and club-captain Zat Knight to directly combat the threat from the skies.

With Millwall pushing for another equaliser, Bolton were under pressure. With only seconds left in the game Andre Moritz provided a moment of real quality, ghosting past the defender to fire beyond the keeper and delight both the Wanderers' players and fans alike. The goal capped off a much better display from the good guys, particularly evident during the quick interplay of the first goal. Consecutive wins and an unbeaten run of seven games makes pretty good reading and perhaps Rob Hall is right, maybe things are finally looking up.