Matt Mills and Tim Ream look to maintain Bolton Wanderers defensive partnership
MATT Mills believes Wanderers can conquer their home frustrations against Ipswich on Saturday.
Dougie Freedman’s side have drawn four and lost two of their Reebok dates so far this season, and the angst among Whites fans was evident in last week’s stalemate against struggling Sheffield Wednesday.
The Whites boss highlighted a “fear factor” that he thinks is currently obstructing his players from performing at their best in front of their own support.
But Mills is out to ease the pressure that seems to be building with three points against Mick McCarthy’s Tractor Boys – who are themselves without a win away from Portman Road this term.
“You can feel a bit of anxiety around the stadium at present,” the defender said. “Everybody wants a positive result which is understandable.
“I thought the crowd were really good last Saturday in terms of the fact they could see we were pushing for a winner.
“They stayed on our side and if we are going to achieve anything this year, it is going to need everybody striving in the right direction.
“The last thing we need is the home fans getting on our back which they haven’t done – they have been great.
“Hopefully we can reward them with a win this Saturday.”
Since the 3-1 reverse at Brighton, Wanderers have made significant defensive improvements, conceding just three goals in their last four.
Of those, Mills has written off two as “freak” efforts – pointing out that Adam Bogdan’s horrendous error against Yeovil and Alex Baptiste’s own goal against Wednesday are never-to-be-seen-again oddities.
While the may have struggled for goals in that time, few contest that the Whites do look stronger at the back.
And that has also coincided with the pairing of Mills with American centre-back Tim Ream, two players who were well out of the first team picture at the start of the season but who have since discovered a new lease of life under Freedman.
“In my whole time at Bolton, Tim and I have never lost when paired together at the back,” Mills told The Bolton News. “That breeds confidence when you can go into games knowing you have a decent partnership with someone.
“I think we complement each other a little bit.
“Tim’s got certain strengths that I haven’t and vice versa.
“On the pitch we are both players who can say things to one another and not take them personally which I think helps you keep focus on your own job.
“I know I can say anything to Tim and he won’t take it the wrong way.
“That is important because you want to play with players that respond to you during the game because things can happen so quickly.
“Tim certainly does that; he is an honest player.”
Wanderers are undefeated in four games but remain just a point above the bottom three going into the Ipswich game.
Real momentum in the league will not be achieved until Freedman’s men can start racking up victories – but Mills reckons the positive mood around the squad stands them in good stead for the coming weeks.
“We have got on a bit of a run now,” he said.
“If you are going to achieve anything, you have to try and stay unbeaten.
“In this league, wins are massive in terms of propelling you up the league.
“I think the confidence within the squad has noticeably changed in recent weeks.
“Players are going into games now excited about what’s in store.
“I thought we deserved a draw from the game last Saturday and were the better team for most of the game but having said that, we maybe didn’t do quite enough to win.
“We have to take our disappointment and frustration into the next game and get a result against Ipswich.”