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Match report: Bolton Wanderers 1 Reading 1

It was a disappointing day for Bolton Wanderers as they lost three players to injury in the first half, then lost a lead and two points in injury time.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

The trouble started for Neil Lennon nine minutes after kickoff.  Right back Kevin McNaughton went down clutching his leg.  Having just returned to the first team picture after months in the wilderness, the Cardiff City loanee was desperate to get back on the pitch, but he could't do it, and the stretcher was needed.  Josh Vela, who had been rested, was forced to enter the game at right back.

Wingers Saidy Janko and Zach Clough were threatening Reading at that point, but the finishing wasn't there.  Then, in the 25th minute, David Wheater pulled up lame.  He had to be replaced by Dorian Dervite, who had been dropped for Wheater just a week before.

Just before halftime, disaster struck.  Young starlet Clough collided with a Reading FC player, walked off the pitch, and went directly down the tunnel.  Eidur Gudjohnsen came on for Clough to partner Adam Le Fondre in the forward line.  Wanderers seemed distracted as Reading had a good run of pressure just after halftime.  This was broken up at the hour mark by our favorite Icelandic striker.  After good work by Le Fondre, Gudjohnsen put the ball in the net for a 1-0 lead.

Now all that was left to do was for Bolton Wanderers to defend a 1-0 lead at home for 30 minutes.  The injuries had forced a bit of a reshuffle, but the back-line in place was Josh Vela, Matt Mills, Dorian Dervite, and Tim Ream.  Dervite has started 28 times this season, usually partnered with Mills.  Vela has started 18 times this season, 14 at right back, including our best defensive run, the four consecutive clean sheets in December.  Ream has been our starting left back for the entire season.  There is really no excuse for this group giving up a sloppy stoppage time goal.  But that is exactly what they did, and what they have been doing for most of 2015.

I don't know what the solution is, there are even some arguments over what the options are, but one fact remains; After a brief renaissance period, the Bolton defense has returned to its right full position as the worst in the division.  Neil Lennon as received many plaudits as manager at the Macron, and very little criticism, but the club have been leaking goals and displaying relegation form for almost two months now.  We'v got eight days off before the short trip up the A666 to Blackburn, and Lennon needs to sort things out at the back.  The bottom three are once again within striking distance, and that is unacceptable.