That was really hard going.
Bolton Wanderers and Brighton & Hove Albion managed to put on a highly turgid and downright awful first 45 minutes. Literally the ONLY highlight of note was a fantastic save from on-loan Manchester United goalkeeper Ben Amos, who kept out a volley from Sam Baldock allowing the teams to go into the half-time break at nil nil.
In the second half, and with the words of manager Neil Lennon obviously ringing in their ears, the Wanderers side went about their efforts with far more verve and gusto, and quite deservedly took home all three points courtesy of yet another goal from teen sensation Zach Clough.
Restoring captain Matt Mills to the side was obvious, but the dropping of ever-present Frenchman Dorian Dervite to the bench was something of a surprise to most. The back four began the game with Josh Vela at right back, Tim Ream at left back, with Mills and David Wheater forming a new centre half partnership.
It worked well, on the whole. A bit of reshuffling saw the odd few minutes of Liam Feeney at right back, and then the introduction of Kevin McNaughton to replace Feeney.
The midfield saw a similar amount of flexibility. Neil Danns anchored the centre, as usual, with Feeney and Barry Bannan offering support to Zach Clough, Emile Heskey and Adam Le Fondre up top.
Wanderers suffered a little along the way with a lack of creative impetus, but it took a little tactical reshuffle from Lennon to hit upon the correct formation to allow Wanderers' attacking talents to thrive. Clough, initially used on the left side of the attack, was brought into the centre of the pitch, and that's when the game began to turn in our favour.
The game was won with a stunning goal from Denton-born Clough. His fellow academy graduate, Josh Vela, drove forward from midfield with the ball at his feet. It looked as if a shot was on the cards, but instead a nice reverse pass inside the defender found Clough who turned on a sixpence, pirouetted beyond the bumbling Brighton defender and shot across the helpless David Stockdale into the far corner of the goal.
It might have been 'slightly' scuffed, but it was a goal worthy of winning any occasion. The skill and confidence of Bolton's top scorer (imagine that - he's probably not even played a dozen games yet) is obvious for all to see and he really does have the footballing world at his feet.
Bolton saw the game out and secured three points. Concerns over injury to Liam Feeney will no doubt dominate the post-game thoughts of manager Lennon, but the squad showed a resilience and pride that had been missing in recent weeks.
Brighton on the other hand, were a poor side, devoid of any sort of attacking intent. Their on-loan Liverpool man, João Teixeira chose to disregard his obvious talents to instead spend the game throwing himself on the ground. He wasn't the only Brighton player guilty of feigning injury, or of trying to gain an unfair advantage. The weak referee fell for most of his tricks, and earned the ire of the crowd with several bizarre decisions, including the booking of Emile Heskey for falling over.
That minor gripe aside, it was a hard-fought and well-earned three points. We will now go into Tuesday's game at home to Reading with renewed confidence ahead of what will no doubt be another tough game in the Championship.