TOWN 2 BOLTON 1
Huddersfield Town finished 2014 with a win and three vital points as strikes from Jacob Butterfield and Nahki Wells silenced Neil Lennon’s Bolton Wanderers.
In a game which could’ve gone either way in the latter stages, Chris Powell will be delighted with his side’s hardy performance – especially after his side let slip a 2-0 lead against Rotherham on Boxing Day.
Wanderers arrived at the John Smith’s Stadium off the back of a 2-1 win against Blackburn Rovers and imposed themselves immediately, moving the ball well in Town territory.
Before the Terriers could get a foot-hold in the game, the visitors were 1-0 up; Darren Pratley picked up a loose ball on the edge of Town’s area following a lofted cross from the left flank. Bolton’s tall midfielder then rifled his half volley in off the cross bar, leaving Alex Smithies little hope of keeping out the powerful effort.
Despite this early set back, Powell’s side responded in positive fashion and the first half developed into a frantic end-to-end spectacle with both sides having chances to extend – or equalise.
Town’s chances came in quick succession early on, however Andy Lonergan was on hand to deny James Vaughan from close range and then Harry Bunn, as the wide-man’s driven effort was pushed wide for one of Town’s many corners.
The second goal of the game, and Town’s equaliser, was equally as impressive as Bolton’s early strike.
Following some smart play down the right flank – including Sean Scannell and provider Jonathan Hogg – Jacob Butterfield decided a long-range effort was the only way to beat Andy Lonergan.
Lonergan was left scrambling to his far post as Butterfield’s 25-yard volley flew into his top corner and gave Town the equaliser just two-minutes before the interval.
The two sides started the second half unchanged, and the encounter continued in intensity. Bolton pressed early and Town replied with Scannell giving his marker, Ream a tough time down the right hand side.
Neil Lennon, replacing goal scorer Darren Pratley shortly after the hour mark, then called upon Emile Heskey – in an attempt to take all three points back to Lancashire. Chris Powell also made a change, as Nahki Wells took to the pitch, replacing Harry Bunn.
Heskey came close for the visitors, though his effort, which rolled underneath an approaching Alex Smithies, was deemed offside by the assistant referee.
Eidur Gudjohnsen then came off for Rob Hall soon after Wells’ introduction, and Adam Hammill followed, replacing striker James Vaughan for Town.
The game then ended in frenzied fashion. A clearance was smartly blocked by Jonathon Hogg deep in Bolton’s final third, who rolled the ball through to Nahki Wells, who was already in full-flight.
Wells then evaded both central defenders before whipping the ball past ‘keeper Lonergan to give Town the lead after 84 minutes.
By this time, both managers had only one change left to make; as Neil Lennon went all out, replacing Liam Trotter with David Wheater.
Powell, in an attempt to safe guard all three points brought Anthony Gerrard, to seemingly shadow the tall Emile Heskey as Bolton lofted every ball as far up the pitch as possible.
Despite a late flourish from Bolton, Town managed to see out the four minutes of stoppage time and record their first win in four league games – breaking Bolton’s eight game unbeaten run.
The Terriers now face Reading in the FA Cup, followed by Watford at home in the Sky Bet Championship
Alex Smithies; Murray Wallace, Mark Hudson (c), Tommy Smith; Jack Robinson, Jacob Butterfield (Anthony Gerrard, 89), Conor Coady, Jonathan Hogg, Sean Scannell; James Vaughan (Adam Hammill, 83), Harry Bunn (Nahki Wells, 71)
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Lloyd Allinson, Joe Lolley, Oscar Gobern, Lee Peltier
: Unused subs