Having ended the search for a first win of the season at Charlton in midweek, Town didn’t have to wait long for the second!
New boy Emyr Huws grabbed the headlines in today’s 4-1 win over visitors Bolton Wanderers at the John Smith’s Stadium thanks to a brace that takes his total to three goals in just two starts for the Club.
On just the 50th domestic appearance of his career, Welsh international Huws netted a vital goal just before the interval to send Town in level and Chris Powell’s side turned the screw in the second 45 with goals from Mustapha Carayol, Huws’ second and a Joel Lynch strike.
Driven on by the superb Dean Whitehead, the whole of Town’s squad deserved credit for the best 45 minutes of the 2015/16 Sky Bet Championship season to date.
Powell picked an unchanged XI following the midweek win at Charlton, but disaster struck inside three minutes when the visitors opened the scoring. Left back Dean Moxey’s big diagonal ball caught Jason Davidson completely off guard, with the Australian defender not spotting winger Liam Feeney’s run off him. To be fair to the winger, he took one touch to enter the penalty area and expertly drilled a low finish across home debutant Jed Steer and into the bottom corner.
Another home debutant, Huws, had the chance to replicate his first goal for the Club at the Valley with a similarly positioned free-kick 25 yards out after Harry Bunn was bundled over just two minutes after the restart, but on this occasion he sent the ball flying over the crossbar.
Town enjoyed a lot of possession after the goal and should have made more of a chance just after the quarter hour mark when Mustapha Carayol’s deep cross was nodded across the face of goal by Sean Scannell, but Ishmael Miller was rooted to the spot and the chance passed by.
At the other end midfielder Mark Davies pulled a tame shot wide from range, but the Terriers were soon back on the attack and went extremely close to an equaliser in the 24th minute when Davidson’s near post cross was turned onto his own crossbar by French centre back Prince.
Town kept pressing, but had to be alert at the other end as Bolton’s diagonal passes got the ball to the wingers whenever possible. One – Arsenal loanee Wellington Silva – got a header on a cross just after the half hour mark and centre back Elliott Ward was just in the right place to clear.
Visiting goalkeeper Ben Amos almost scored a calamitous own goal just moments later. Under pressure from Bunn, he made a complete mess of a routine clearance and had to scramble back to clear the ball to safety as it rolled just a yard from the goal line.
Former Town man Neil Danns screamed a left footed effort inches wide of a scrambling Steer’s right-hand post from fully 30 yards, but Powell’s men kept plugging away and eventually got their rewards.
In the only minute of added time, Ward found Bunn with a low pass into the right channel and the attacker won a corner. He strode over and, in a move the team had been practising on the training ground on Friday, allowed Scannell’s run to free up space for Emyr Huws around 25 yards out. Bunn rolled the ball back to the Welshman and he netted his second goal for the Club in as many starts, smashing the ball between the goalkeeper and the near post.
After the half time, interval, Powell’s men came out firing – and it didn’t take long for them to take the lead. Huws had already missed a huge headed chance just minutes into the half after good work from Bunn and a cross from Carayol, but then in the 51st minute the Terriers struck.
It was Carayol who scored his first goal in over 18 months, rounding off his return from the serious knee injury that kept him out for most of last season. After receiving a pass from Huws on the edge of the box, he used Bunn’s overlap as a decoy and drove inside right back Lawrie Wilson before curling an expertly placed effort out of Amos’ reach and inside the far post.
With Miller giving the centre backs a torrid tame with his pace and power, Town continued to press. The impressive Bunn twice tested Amos with efforts from range from his new position just off the striker whilst the exceptional Dean Whitehead bossed the midfield areas, snapping into tackles all over the pitch.
Scannell couldn’t find the unmarked Bunn with a 67th minute cross, but the third goal came down the other win seven minutes later.
Carayol was in the action again; he was played in down the left by Miller and his deep cross was perfect for Huws to bundle home his second at the back post; the Welshman did well to convert as the ball came to him at waist height.
Stephen Dobbie wasted a good opportunity for Bolton minutes later after breaking the offside trap as he tried to chip Jed Steer from a narrow angle, only succeeding in giving the ‘keeper an easy catch.
Jamie Paterson was soon handed a home debut by Powell and just three minutes later Town had a fourth, although it was the unlikely figure of Joel Lynch grabbing a first of the season. A free kick into the Bolton area dropped to the first man but Wilson dallied and Town’s big defender stole the ball before turning goalwards and smashing it home at the near post. It was his first strike since the memorable overhead kick against Watford back in January.
Sub Gary Madine shinned wide Bolton’s best chance of the second half with five minutes left after Wilson got behind Davidson to cross, but it was Town who looked more likely to score again as the game came to a close. Miller and Bunn both fired wide in the closing minutes before a good save from Amos denied substitute Nahki Wells what looked a certain third goal of the season from a low Scannell cross.
Bolton’s miserable day was capped off with a minute of normal time remaining when former Real Madrid centre back Derik brought down Wells right on the edge of the box to earn his second yellow card.
Town’s team (4-2-3-1):
Jed Steer; Jason Davidson, Joel Lynch, Elliott Ward, Martin Cranie; Emyr Huws (Jonathan Hogg, 77), Dean Whitehead (c); Mustapha Carayol (Jamie Paterson, 81), Harry Bunn, Sean Scannell; Ishmael Miller (Nahki Wells, 87)
Lloyd Allinson, Tommy Smith, Joe Lolley, Kyle Dempsey