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Bolton Wanderers - Where did that second half come from?

The day had started so well with a leisurely drive on the M62 to the Yorkshire Rose in Huddersfield. Basking in the sunshine, enjoying a Barnsley chop and some Cumberland ale, we agreed with the locals that this is how football should be. Like us, Huddersfield Town had just had their first win of the season, so a good competitive game was in prospect. What could go wrong?

Article by Alan Houghton

Stephen Dobbie came in for the injured Zach Clough and Emile Heskey replaced the out of form Gary Madine. For 44 minutes nothing did go wrong. Wellington Silva threaded a superb ball through for Liam Feeney put us ahead before some fans had tweeted their arrival. We dominated the first half in one of the best away showings for a long while. We lost Emile Heskey after 10 minutes but that didn’t seem to stop us. We had plenty of the possession but if there was one criticism, it was that we didn’t have that much in the final third and created very few chances. Then we conceded a soft goal from a dubious corner just before half-time and it killed us. Emyr Huws, on loan from Wigan Athletic found himself unmarked just outside the box and he calmly slotted the ball home. Poor marking and maybe the goalie should have done better.

At half time, most fans still thought that we would get something from this match. I don’t know if the teams swapped shirts or Chris Powell gave the half-time team talk of the season but Huddersfield came out after the break, fought like terriers and slaughtered us. The only comfort was we kept it down to 4. No wonder they want to play us every week. Huddersfield tore us apart. Mustapha Carayol was unstoppable down the left wing and he put Huddersfield ahead as he cut in and fired past Ben Amos. Emyr Huws slotted a superb third goal and full back Joel Lynch joined the party to add the fourth. Derik Osede added to the mess when he got a second yellow card and he will now miss the next match.

In the end this was a shockingly bad performance and there is no hiding from that. I just hope that it was a coincidence that our defence was awful the first match after Jan Mjallby left and returned to Sweden. Steve Walford has got a big job on his hands, restoring confidence and patching up this defence. Football has its ups and down and we’re not immune from them. But it is all about bouncing back from a bad result. Who better to bounce back against than the top of the table Brighton and Hove Albion at the Macron next Saturday? Recently it has looked like we are getting our act together, particularly in defence and this was a big reality check on just how fragile things are at Bolton at the moment. Neil Lennon has done wonders with no money to spare but the injuries are already starting to pile up again. We’ve already lost Darren Pratley, Dorian Dervitte, Zach Clough, David Wheater and now Emile Heskey for four to 6 weeks. Derik Osede only started playing last week after his pre-season injury. With the smaller squad that we have, we cannot afford these injuries. Youngsters like Alex Finney, Rob Holding and Tom Walker are being thrown in the deep end and having to learn fast.

It’s still early days. Last week’s win against Wolves doesn’t make us promotion contenders and neither should this week’s defeat make us relegation fodder. Hopefully Neil Lennon can work some magic in the loan market and conjure up the striker we desperately need. It’s not all doom and gloom. Max Clayton is close to returning from long term injury and Alex Samizadeh is scoring for fun in the youth team. Neil Lennon wanted the challenge of managing in English football. Well, he’s certainly got one!

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