Bolton Wanderers' last minute goal syndrome came back to haunt them as they threw away a two-goal lead to lose 4-3 to a Queens Park Rangers that didn't even have a striker. The defeat sees Wanderers heading into the international break occupying the relegation zone with just one win and eight points in their opening ten league matches of the season.
This latest defeat leaves Wanderers with just five victories in 30 matches in all competitions since February - which means we've taken just 23 points in the last eight months. Bolton have also only won twice in their last 15 matches away from home in 2015, and only won five of the last 31 away matches since the start of last season.
The loss to QPR will be a bitter pill to swallow for Wanderers, having led 2-0 inside 11 minutes and fought back to tie the game at 3-3 with just five minutes remaining. But the side's naivety and lack of defensive discipline shone through as Neil Lennon's men threw away any hopes of taking points home from west London.
Lennon made two changes from the side that rescued a late point against Brighton last weekend, with captain Darren Pratley and Dorian Dervite coming in for Wellington Silva and David Wheater. That move saw Mark Davies pushed further up the pitch, starting initially on the left before swapping with Max Clayton, and he really struggled to get into the game, while the returning Pratley was abject in Davies' midfield berth.
Wanderers got off to a flying start to the game, as Gary Madine nodded in an excellent cross from Liam Feeney to score in consecutive games. Feeney then turned goalscorer as Rob Green pushed Pratley's shot to the winger, and at that point the visitors looked comfortable.
But in true Bolton style the wheels well and truly fell off the cart, as we let QPR go up the other end and score an immediate response. The lively Tjaronn Chery crossed for league debutant Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who started up front in the absence of Charlie Austin and Jamie Mackie, to nod home and get his side back into the game.
From that moment on it was clear to everyone watching that not only were QPR obviously going to equalise, but they were going to go on and score four or five goals. Sure enough, just one minute before half-time Ben Amos spilled a shot to Leroy Fer and the Dutch international got the hosts level - although there had been a clear foul on Feeney on the half-way line which went unnoticed by yet another poor Championship referee.
At half-time Lennon moved to address his side's defensive frailties by replacing the ineffectual Francesco Pisano with David Wheater and shifting Prince to right-back. But QPR went on to further dominate after the break as Wanderers became increasingly sloppy in possession, which was epitomised by the goal that put the home side ahead. Pratley topped off his poor afternoon by passing the ball straight to a QPR defender, which started a break away that ended up with Chery curling the ball into the top corner under minimal pressure from the Bolton defence.
Lennon immediately replaced Pratley for Jay Spearing, then brought on Silva for Max Clayton and the livewire Brazilian made a huge difference. He got Bolton back into the game with five minutes to go, with a trademark run cutting in from the left wing before curling a great shot into the far corner.
It looked like Silva had rescued Wanderers a point, and he continued to threaten as the visitors dreamt of a winner - which they could well have had through Neil Danns. QPR keeper Green dropped the ball in his own box and Danns, who was stood next to him, nipped in to put the loose ball in the back of the net without touching the goalkeeper. Yet bizarrely the referee and linesman - neither of whom appeared to have been watching the incident - somehow disallowed it for seemingly no reason other than a goalkeeper apparently can't do anything wrong.
Predictably QPR then went straight down the other end to score. Emmanuel-Thomas was given far too much space, beat a poor sliding challenge from Davies - which summed up his afternoon - and bent the ball into the top corner, yet again under zero pressure from the Bolton defence, to seal all three points.
The winning goal summarised a weak, naive and spineless defensive performance from Bolton, and Lennon himself is at a loss for why we can't hold on at the end of matches - saying he "was sick of talking about it" in his post-match interview.
To concede four goals to a team that didn't have a fit forward, to throw away a 2-0 lead so easily, and then to concede with the last kick of the game having fought hard to get back into it is ridiculous. The most frustrating thing is that we actually played pretty well at times, looked threatening going forwards and scored three good goals, but the defence continues to undermine our attacking threat.
Things don't get much easier for Wanderers after the international break as they face a trip to another recently relegated Premier League side, with a game at Burnley on October 17th. They then host Birmingham City and Leeds United before a potentially massively important trip to Preston North End on October 31st.