A single second-half goal from Craig Davies was enough to condemn Town to defeat at Bolton Wanderers’ Macron Stadium this afternoon.
In a game that lacked quality at times, the Terriers had just failed to convert two decent efforts before an individual error was punished in clinical fashion by the hosts.
The first-half was devoid of real quality in either final third, with only two notable chances; one for either side. With Harry Bunn side-lined with a thigh problem, Powell deployed Town in a 4-3-3 with either Grant Holt or the recalled Nahki Wells asked to fill in on the right when the Terriers were defending.
Sean Scannell saw plenty of the ball early on as he came up against a young central midfielder playing at right back in Bolton’s Josh Vela and it was from his cross that the first effort of the game came – Joel Lynch flicking a header wide of target in the ninth minute.
Bolton’s best chance of the half soon followed – and striker Craig Davies should have given his side the lead. The striker, who was embroiled in a competitive physical battle with Town skipper Mark Hudson all afternoon, found space only 10 yards out to connect with Darren Pratley’s low cross from the Town right, but only succeeded in rattling the crossbar of fit-again Alex Smithies.
Both sides traded long range efforts as the game progressed – Scannell took too long over one effort that was blocked while Davies curled well over at the other end – as neither team found a good passing rhythm, instead looking direct for Messrs Holt and Davies.
However, ‘Scanz’ didn’t make the best of one good opportunity 10 minutes before the close of the half. Bolton centre back Matt Mills is an imposing figure, but when the winger managed to isolate him he breezed down the outside. Unfortunately for the travelling support, he over-hit his low cross that was intended for teammate Wells at the back post.
Town’s best opening of the half came in the second minute of first-half added time. Diego Poyet started the move, placing a smart reverse pass into Jacob Butterfield. The one-time Bolton loanee advanced before sliding a pass into the area for Wells and on his weaker left foot, the Bermudian forced a smart save from ‘keeper Andy Lonergan with a shot that was heading inside the far post.
The second-half started more brightly, with a quick break setting the tone. Scannell – now on the right – was sent clear down the flank by Coady and looked to have setup an easy goal for Butterfield with a superb low cross – only for Lonergan to execute a great point-blank save.
Butterfield soon sent Holt clear of the last defender with a slide-rule pass and although the big striker won his 50-50 with the onrushing Lonergan, the ball squirmed agonisingly wide of the far post.
Town were made to suffer for not converting those chances in the 67th minute when Bolton, through danger-man Davies, opening the scoring. Murray Wallace, who had replaced Joel Lynch at half-time, didn’t get sufficient distance on his clearance forward and Bolton broke quickly through Feeney. Hudson went out to the left to try and cut out the cross and when the ball evaded him, it left Davies with the easy task of slotting past Smithies from 10 yards out.
The Terriers tried to fight back through a set-piece five minutes later, but Wallace unwittingly headed Butterfield’s excellent delivery wide with Holt better positioned to attack the ball behind him.
Town’s team (4-3-3):
Alex Smithies; Jack Robinson, Joel Lynch (Murray Wallace, 46), Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Jacob Butterfield, Diego Poyet (Joe Lolley, 76), Conor Coady; Sean Scannell (Danny Ward, 90), Grant Holt, Nahki Wells
Lloyd Allinson, Paul Dixon, Jonathan Hogg, Lee Peltier
Mark Hudson (30), Murray Wallace (59)