|Bolton Wanderers 0 v 1 Leeds United|
Saturday, 15th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 0-1 Leeds United - Bamford back with a bang
Saturday, 15th Dec 2018 18:12 by @LucasMonk_
Leeds United secured a hard-fought win over struggling Bolton on Saturday afternoon.
Substitute Patrick Bamford struck the only goal of the game to snatch all three points.
There were few chances against the backdrop of grim, inclement weather.
But Leeds and Bamford retained their composure to record a fifth win in succession.
United head coach Marcelo Bielsa made one change to the side that defeated Queens Park Rangers last time out. Lewis Baker replaced Samuel Saiz, who is set to join Getafe in a loan deal following a medical.
The visitors made a bright start to the match.
With two minutes played, Adam Forshaw released Mateusz Klich, who fed the ball to Ezgjan Alioski in a wide position.
Alioski sent over a looping cross, and Pablo Hernandez's header drew an attentive save from Bolton's Ben Alnwick.
A succession of corners followed, but Leeds made nothing of them.
Wanderers then began to grow into the match and stifle their opponents.
Indeed, the visitors would have to wait until the half hour mark for their next clear sight of goal.
Klich appeared in the box and drilled a low shot toward goal, but Alnwick came to Bolton's rescue once more.
After seeing his side play out an anodyne and goalless first half, Bielsa introduced Jack Clarke in place of Baker.
And after Craig Noone flashed an effort wide on 53 minutes, the youngster enjoyed his first real involvement in the game.
12 minutes later, he embarked upon a venturesome run down the right before meeting a cutback and drawing another good stop from Alnwick.
Ultimately, it would be another of United's substitutes who stole the headlines - a mere minute later.
Hernandez threaded an excellent ball through the legs of a Bolton defender.
And Bamford seized upon it and found the net with a crisp first-time finish. The goal was his first since recovering from a serious injury. Incidentally, his last came on his United debut against Bolton in the Carabao Cup back in August.
Thereafter, the visitors controlled possession and afforded their hosts little in the way of chances.
But Bolton threatened to upset the apple cart in the final 10 minutes.
They had a penalty shout dismissed when Kalvin Phillips tangled with Noone in the box before Barry Douglas cleared Jack Hobbs's header off the line.
United, though, weathered this miniature maelstrom. Alnwick parried a 20-yard sighter from Klich as the clock wore down.
And they negotiated four minutes of added time to record a fifth win in succession and their fourth in a row over Bolton.
Summary: United not at their best, but deserved victors nonetheless
Those of a Bolton Wanderers disposition would perhaps find solace in George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London at the moment.
Though they are not in Paris or London, they are down and out. The grim reaper of financial meltdown looms over their club once more. And the recent banning of a local journalist for pointing this out has only elicited a somewhat muted anger from supporters. The apathy of the impoverished is laid bare, as it was in Orwell's tome.
There was even a hint of pathetic fallacy about this match for the torpid Trotters. As the rain lashed down, the most mundane misery reposed itself in shaking heads and fists and half-hearted shouts on Phil Parkinson's part. The gloomy weather was a fitting backdrop for the spectacle, encapsulating the emotions of the weary home supporters.
They perhaps felt a tad hard done by when their team had a penalty shout waved away and a header cleared off the line. But tomorrow they will reflect upon today's events and concede that their team deserved nothing from the game.
Leeds were not at their best. They made a clear attempt to play their usual, possession-oriented style. For much of the match, though, their copious possession was innocuous.
But as has been the case so often these season they persisted. Marcelo Bielsa's clever substitutions made all the difference. With one fell swoop, they took the points.
Even in the first half, Bolton's functional, direct football produced nothing in open play. They seemed content to beguile away time and hold out for a draw. There was only one team trying to win this game.
In the eyes of the purist, Wanderers got what they deserved. And Leeds got what they deserved. Another win. Another clean sheet. A return to the top of the table, for now. A joy that will last well into next week.
That said, one doubts that this defeat has inflicted any great anguish upon Bolton. When one becomes accustomed to even the most bitter taste, it is not as bitter as it was when experienced for the first time.
"You have talked so often of going to the dogs - and well, here are the dogs, and you have reached them, and you can stand it."
Bolton Wanderers (4-2-3-1): Alnwick; Olkowski; Wheater, Hobbs, Taylor; Williams (Oztumer 80’), Lowe; Noone, Vela, Buckley (Wildschut 72’); Magennis (Doidge 75’).
Unused substitutes: Matthews, O’Neil, Wilson, Donaldson.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Peacock-Farrell; Shackleton, Jansson, Phillips, Douglas; Forshaw; Hernandez (Halme 90+3’), Baker (Clarke 46’), Klich, Alioski; Roofe (Bamford 61’).
Unused substitutes: Huffer, Davis, Harrison, Roberts.
Match Statistics (Bolton/Leeds)
Shots: 4 / 12
On target: 0 / 4
Possession: 30% / 70%
Corners: 4 / 10
Fouls: 14 / 11
Photo: Action Images
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