Bolton Wanderers fail their Watford examination on opening day

Matt Mills keeps an eye on Troy Deeney at Vicarage Road

Matt Mills keeps an eye on Troy Deeney at Vicarage Road

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

WANDERERS might have “done their homework” on Watford’s menacing strike duo Troy Deeney and Matej Vydra – but they certainly failed the exam.

Dougie Freedman had picked out the pair in the build-up to Saturday’s game and insisted that the squad were well-equipped for what they had in store.

Videos had been watched, notes had been taken.

Yet all that went out of the window on Saturday as both Vydra and Deeney got themselves on the scoresheet within 24 minutes, leaving Freedman scratching his head.

Both goals had similar origins, a long ball from the back catching out a flat-footed defence. And for a man who prides himself on preparation, the manner of those early strikes was difficult to comprehend.

“The start we made – it’s just not how we do things,” said the Scot, shaking his head. “It really put us on the back foot throughout the match.

“We don’t tend to concede goals from 40-yard passes, in behind defenders. It’s something we’re usually quite good at.

“That was very disappointing. We were playing against the two best strikers in the division and if you’re going to give up opportunities like that, they will take them all day long.

“It is very uncharacteristic of us to concede goals to balls going over the top – we’ve got good mobility at the back.

“It’s not as if we’re scratching our heads and wondering what went wrong; that’s exactly what went wrong.”

The omens were not good for Wanderers when Dean Moxey’s mistake after just 15 seconds gifted a chance to Troy Deeney.

Defensively, the nerves started jangling from there – but Freedman believes his side should have had the know-how to cope with their early problems.

“It shouldn’t have affected us – we’ve got a vast amount of experience out there,” he said.

“I don’t think the occasion bothered us either.

“But if the manner of the first goal surprised me, then it might have shaken us.

“What I expected of Watford didn’t happen, and that’s why I’m surprised sitting here.”

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