One of the first things Neil Lennon did upon becoming Bolton Wanderers manager was to show how dim Dougie Freedman was by bringing Zach Clough into the first team squad. He made quite the impact in his debut with his glorious Lionel Messi esc chipped finish seeing off pub team Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup.
His double act with Adam Le Fondre at the end of that season was a revelation as Bolton showed signs that they could be building back up to where they once were again.
It was not to be though as financial problems began to cripple the club. A weaker Bolton team was not such a happy hunting ground for Clough as he attempted to overcome injury. A few bright points aside it was a disappointing season for the young player, who was carrying the hopes of the whole club on his shoulders. With the circumstances it was never a fair reflecton of the young lad.
Dropping into League One was a huge opportunity for Clough, if Bolton were able to keep hold of him. Having rebuffed Bristol City in January it was something of a surprise that no one tried to take advantage of Bolton’s financial circumstances to keep Clough in the second tier.
Keeping hold of Clough looked like an important coup for Wanderers as they set about their mission of bouncing straight back to the Championship. Imporant goals flowed, including a brace against Bury in a long lost local derby. His upturn in form was enough to attact admiring glances once.
At this point it was Nottingham Forest who came in for him, and he went off for another stab at the second tier. This came on the same day as Le Fondre resigned, and for a brief time we though that the two of them would be unleashed on some likely terrified League One defences.
It was not to be as Clough instead gave the club the financial lifeline to get to the end of the season.
Good luck to all the boys today!! pic.twitter.com/KhzHZFH3R5— Zach Clough (@ZachClough) March 11, 2018
On arrival at Forest he was involved, even socring against Derby County. He looked to be on his way to continuing the line of popular Cloughs who have been associated with Forest. It would though all start to fall apart. He suddenly found himself a long way out of favour behind a plethera of other attacking players.
At this point a loan move was on the cards and as Bolton sold another striker for big money a gap opened up and he rejoined the club on loan. This time though Clough never got going and was unable to nail down a place in the team, dropping out of the match day squad in the run up to the end of the season. He did though score an all important winning goal in a controversial 1-0 win against Sunderland. When you stay up in the last mintute of the season every little really does help.
He is now playing for Rochdale in League One, again on loan, and has only mustered four appearances so far due to more injury problems. There is a talent player in there, hopefully another spell in League One can bring this back out.