Bolton Wanderers defender Matt Mills rues missed chances in defeat at Leeds United

Wanderers defender Matt Mills

Wanderers defender Matt Mills

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

MATT Mills felt like a spectator for most of the 1-0 defeat against Leeds, and so can sympathise with those looking on in despair.

Wanderers pressed for an equaliser through the entire second half without reward and yet it was a lackadaisical 15-minute spell at the start of the first half that proved their undoing.

With an international break on the horizon there was an onus on the Whites to kick-start their season against an injury-hit Leeds side who were also struggling for form.

And Mills admits some of the players may have wilted under the expectation.

“The pressure has been there since we got booed off at half-time against Vitesse,” he said. “The fans have made their point clear – they want to be top of the league like the players do.

“That’s the pressure you have got to go out and perform in front of. At the minute we are not doing it.

“We are being naive trying to start games and win it from the off. The whole second half we completely ran the game. But if you don’t get it right at the start and you go a goal behind then it gives them something to hold on to.”

It is not the first time that Mills has stepped forward in difficult circumstances this season – reflecting his much higher standing in the Wanderers hierarchy these days.

And the defender had sympathy for his manager, who bears the brunt of supporters’ ire after a run of just one point from five games at the start of the season.

“It’s difficult for him with results, for sure, but as far as a performance goes I don’t think we could have done much more,” he said. “I was stood on the halfway line for the whole second half. From where I was watching it looked good. We just didn’t get the ball in the back of the net.

“The manager is fantastic. He gives the players the freedom to go and express themselves. He puts a lot of trust in his players.

“The way we started the game I think a few players let him down. Then we gave them something to hold on to so it was an uphill battle.

“I think they had one shot on target and we had enough chances to win three games. We haven’t taken them and we have been punished by a cross cum shot; a shank into the bottom corner.

“It is disappointing because we were by far the better team.”

To make things doubly difficult, it was a man who Wanderers considered signing on a permanent basis who struck the decisive blow for Leeds.

Stephen Warnock was on loan at the club when Dougie Freedman arrived but the improved form of Marcos Alonso, coupled with the tight financial situation at the club, meant a deal for the former England international could not be ironed out.

Warnock capitalised on some slack defending to drill a cross-shot into the bottom corner 16 minutes in, a goal that could have major consequences for his former club.

“We know Stephen; it's just a freak goal,” Mills said. “He has obviously gone to cross it and hit it into the ground. It's come off the outside of his foot and gone into the bottom corner.”

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