WANDERERS 0 HUDDERSFIELD 1: Reebok problems continue for Bolton Wanderers
WANDERERS 0 HUDDERSFIELD 1
Wanderers: Lonergan 7, McNaughton 7, Knight 7, Mills 8, Ream 8; Moritz 8 (Ngog 59, 5), Kamara 6 (Mason 75, 6), Spearing 6, Hall 7 (Chung-Yong 56, 6); Danns 7, Beckford 6. Subs not used: Baptiste, Wheater, Pratley, Lee-Barratt.
Huddersfield: Smithies, Gerrard, Hogg, Ward (Scannell 45), Hammill, Smith, Dixon, Lynch, Norwood, Southern (Gobern 62), Vaughan. Subs not used: Woods, Wallace, Holmes, Stead, Bennett.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham (County Durham)…7
THERE was no early festive cheer for the Reebok faithful last night who must want to buck the trend and not be at home with their loved ones this Christmas.
Filled with new hope after a first win on home soil against Millwall last time out, this was a return to the frustrating Wanderers – the disappointment clear among the fans who had hoped that the Millwall victory would be an advent of change.
Instead, once Burnley-born Oliver Norwood had let fly with a Christmas cracker 19 minutes from time, the only seasonal spirit came from visiting manager Robins – a former Red bouncing back across the Pennines with a third successive league win and a first in Bolton for 45 years.
It had looked like being a different story, however, in a first period were the Whites made most of the play.
Freedman had freshened things up with Alex Baptiste dropping to the bench and Tim Ream shifting across to the left as skipper Zat Knight returned, though Jay Spearing wore the captain’s armband again.
There were also places from the off for Rob Hall and Andre Moritz – the latter’s first start since his sumer arrival – in midfield in place of Chung-Yong Lee and Darren Pratley who were also in reserve.
And Hall had an impact right from the start as he took the game to a Huddersfield side looking for a third successive win.
His direct approach had the Terriers chasing their tails and forced to concede two early free-kicks around their box.
Young stopper Smithies was called into action when another jinking Hall run ended with a rasping left-footer that warmed Smithies palms as he pushed it away.
But after an opening quarter of an hour on the front foot, Wanderers were a lick of paint away from going behind – the outside of Andy Lonergan’s post coming to the rescue when Danny Ward swiveled to try and curl into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
And when Knight’s miss-kick clearance from a low cross fell to left-back Paul Dixon, he fizzed another effort into the side-netting.
It was a warning for Wanderers that another failure to take chances at the opposite end could prove costly.
Hall was key to changing that and he was heavily involved again on 26 minutes when his one two fortuitously made it back to Moritz in the box on the left but his side-footed effort was diverted behind by Smithies.
From the resulting corner, the Terriers keeper would do even better to incredibly turn over a powerful Matt Mills header from eight yards – quite how he did from point-blank range with one hand had even the home fans applauding in admiration.
It did, however, give Wanderers back the impetus and Jermaine Beckford took on an early effort from wide to try and catch Smithies out on the half hour mark.
Another lapse at the back moments later could have proved costly, though, when Oliver Norwood curled a pinpoint ball onto Vaughan’s head 12 yards out but he headed into the ground and beyond the dive of Lonergan and just the wrong side of the far post.
The Whites were back playing diagonal long balls into Beckford without success soon after, but when they did keep the passes flowing, it almost created another chance for Moritz running into the six-yard box before Smithies dived at his feet.
But for all their good approach play, the Whites could not break the deadlock before the break.
The visitors came out brighter for the second half but Lonergan was still largely an onlooker with what little service into Vaughan dealt with effectively by the changed back-line.
Freedman knew it was a game there for the taking and two quick-fire changes before the hour mark saw Chung-Yong and Ngog on for Hall and the impressive Moritz, the latter pushing further up to aid Beckford.
It did lift them, and the best part of a 15,452 crowd briefly, with the Korean looping a header over after teeing up Jay Spearing moments earlier.
But the frustration was again growing on home soil as another chance of three points seemed to be slipping away.
Huddersfield sensed that and pressed higher, with only a fingertip Lonergan save, possibly with the help of Spearing on the line, keeping out a glancing header from substitute Oscar Gobern.
It was only a brief respite as Lancastrian Norwood fired in a stunning 30-yard screamer with 18 minutes left to give Lonergan no chance as it arrowed into the top right-hand corner.
When Beckford headed wide from close in shortly after, Freedman called for loanee Joe Mason for the final quarter of an hour in place of Medo.
But it would be Beckford who skewed another late chance off target who would sum up a sloppy second half.
There were plenty of full-time boos and the result left home fans whining, while giving Freedman plenty to mull over before another home date against Doncaster on Saturday.