Report: Bolton 0-1 Huddersfield
Oliver Norwood’s second half strike was enough to condemn Wanderers to 1 -0 defeat against Huddersfield Town at the Reebok Stadium.
The midfielder unleashed a shot from all of 30 yards with just 18 minutes left on the clock and despite a late rally from the Whites to rescue a point from the game, their efforts were ultimately in vain as the Terriers held out for the win.
Dougie Freedman made a number of changes to the side which lost to Middlesbrough at the weekend, with the likes of Zat Knight, Rob Hall and Andre Moritz replacing Alex Baptiste, Chung-Yong Lee and Darren Pratley in the Bolton starting line-up.
Both sides showed their intent inside the opening minutes of the game, with both Jermaine Beckford and James Vaughan putting each goalkeeper under pressure early on, while Neil Danns’ trickery and consequent ball across the face of goal deserved more.
Following a sprightly start to proceedings, Rob Hall unleashed what had originally seemed to be an audacious effort from all of 35 yards with 13 minutes on the clock, but Alex Smithies was on hand to parry his shot away and keep the scores level.
Having struggled to produce anything of note early on, Huddersfield nearly stunned the Reebok as former Wanderers striker Danny Ward fired a shot from just outside the area, but his effort flashed past the post with Lonergan beaten.
The opportunity seemed to breathe life into the visitors, with Bolton suddenly finding themselves under pressure after enjoying the majority of the possession inside the opening 20 minutes.
Following a period of very little notable action, a moment of magic between Hall and Moritz almost handed Bolton the lead with the latter unleashing a shot, but a deflection from the Huddersfield keeper took it onto the roof of the net.
The Whites enjoyed another glorious opportunity to put themselves in front from the resulting corner as Matt Mills shrugged off his marker to head the ball goal bound, but Smithies was alert to push his powerful effort over the bar.
Having struggled to make his mark during the first half hour of the clash, James Vaughan looked certain to break the deadlock in the 32nd minute as he connected with a curling ball into the box, but the in-form frontman’s header flew wide of the upright.
As the clock ran down, Wanderers went close again through Moritz after a well worked team effort, but Smithies denied the Brazilian at close range to ensure that the half ended goalless.
As the second period got underway, it was to be the visitors who would enjoy the first chance of the half with substitute Sean Scannell dragging his shot just wide of the far post.
With both sides struggling to break down each other’s respective defences however, frustration was clearly setting in with a number of ambitious attempts being unleashed that failed to test either Andy Lonergan or Smithies.
Freedman introduced both David Ngog and Chung-Yong Lee into the fold in a bid to help Wanderers find a goal, with the latter heading Danns’ cross into the box narrowly over the crossbar with 65 minutes on the clock.
Following a brief spell of pressure from the visitors, Paul Dixon looked to have handed them the lead as he struck from a matter of yards out, but Lonergan was alert to clear his lines and keep the scores level.
No sooner had the Bolton keeper rescued his side however, Norwood fired Huddersfield in front in the most spectacular fashion with a shot from all of 30 yards with 18 minutes to go.
With time running out to rescue as result from the clash, Joe Mason was handed a baptism of fire as he was thrown into the mix as Wanderers fought to pull themselves back onto level terms.
The goal appeared to have given the Terriers a confidence boost, with Scannell testing the Bolton defence with number of powerful runs down the wing, while Beckford squandered arguably Wanderers’ best opportunity of the half as he curled his shot wide from just inside the area with four minutes to go.
With time of the essence, the Whites poured forward in their droves in search of en equalising goal with Jay Spearing seeing his scorching effort deflected away with the Reebok faithful already on their feet.
Despite Wanderers throwing everyone forward inside the closing stages however, it was ultimately a case of too little too late as Town held out for all three points.