Report: Leeds 1-0 Wanderers
Luciano Becchio’s second-half penalty saw Wanderers slip to a narrow defeat away at Leeds United on New Year’s Day.
Referee Philip Gibbs awarded the home side a 66th-minute penalty after Tyrone Mears was adjudged to have fouled Ross McCormack inside the box, and Becchio made no mistake from 12 yards.
Wanderers enjoyed the bulk of possession in the first half, with Chris Eagles going close on two separate occasions, but he was thwarted by a diving Paddy Kenny.
The Trotters enjoyed a sustained spell of possession in the closing stages, as both Jacob Butterfield and David Ngog went close, but Bolton were unable to find an equaliser at Elland Road.
Freedman named an unchanged side from Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Birmingham City, and the matchday squad was bolstered by the inclusion of David Ngog who had recovered from a slight knock.
Both teams enjoyed early spells of possessions, but it was the Trotters who forged the game’s first opening. Mears’ lofted cross was flicked down by Kevin Davies, but Darren Pratley could only fire over from an acute angle.
United were restricted to just a couple of long range efforts from the returning Luciano Becchio and Rodolph Austin, before Wanderers created their best chance of the half.
A challenge by Pratley on the halfway line led to a quick counter-attack, and Eagles was able to weave his way into the box and strike an effort inches wide of Kenny’s far post.
And it was Eagles again who went close after 40 minutes. Kevin Davies, who was a constant aerial threat throughout, was able to head the ball into the path of the Bolton number seven, but his extravagant 30-yard shot was tipped round the post by the diving Leeds stopper to end the first period.
Neither team were able to stamp their authority on the game at the begging of the second half, but Wanderers were the team in the ascendency as both Eagles and Marcos Alonso had early efforts on goal.
But after a brief spell of sustained Leeds possession, referee Gibbs awarded the home side a penalty as Mears was adjudged to have fouled McCormack as he turned towards goal.
Striker Becchio would step up and send Adam Bogdan the wrong way to give Neil Warnock’s side the lead after 66 minutes.
United almost doubled their lead soon after. A fast break from a Bolton corner allowed former Wanderer El-Hadj Diouf to run at goal and he played in McCormack, but his effort flew over from 10-yards.
Freedman responded immediately and introduced Ngog, Benik Afobe and Butterfield as the visitors pushed forward for an equaliser.
First, Butterfield was able to find space on the edge of the area, but saw his goal-bound shot blocked in front of keeper Kenny. And from the resulting play, Kevin Davies slid a ball across to Ngog, but the stretching Frenchman fired over from six yards.
The Trotters dominated the closing period of the game, with even keeper Bogdan going forward for a Wanderers corner in search for that elusive goal, but ultimately it wasn’t to be.
Wanderers:Bogdan, Mears, Knight, Ream, Alonso, Spearing (Butterfield 79), Andrews, Chung-Yong (Afobe 67), Pratley (Ngog 67), Eagles, K Davies (Unused subs: Lonergan, Petrov, Ricketts, Sordell)
Leeds United: Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Green, Austin, Becchio, Tate, Norris, Diouf (Gray 90), Byram, McCormack (Unused subs: Ashdown, Drury, Lees, Brown, Somma, Hall)