Reds left to rue missed chances as they slump to fourth successive defeat

Bolton Wanderers 3, Barnsley 1

(SkyBet Championship)

The scoreline suggests a convincing win for the team from the Lancashire side of the Pennines.

But not a bit of it.

Statistics show that Barnsley had considerably more of the possession than the home team (59% to 41%); they had almost double the number of attempts at goal (16-9); and they had more of them on target (6-4).

However, there is, of course, only one statistic that matters. That relates to the number of goals scored. And in that respect, the Reds fell short.

Consequently they stumbled to their fourth successive defeat which saw them slide still further down the table, with Bolton, who not so long ago had looked like being cast adrift at the bottom, now only four points behind the Oakwell team.

Frustrated head coach Paul Heckingbottom pulled no punches in his post-match interview.

“The three goals we gave away were shocking,” he said. “They (Bolton) will be delighted. Of course they will. We have had 13 shots in the second half, six on target, and missed them. That’s why we lost. We were wasteful at one end when we were on top and naive at the other end conceding the goals.”

His team had played some good football, moving the ball around quickly and accurately to create numerous chances, but they were made to rue their missed opportunities.

The Trotters went into the game with a greatly improved record of only one defeat in eight matches and four home victories in succession, suggesting that they are beginning to build up a momentum under manager Phil Parkinson, and they took the lead in the 20th minute when Gary Madine forced the ball over the line at the near post after Marc Little had provided a precision cross.

It took the Reds only two minutes to equalise, leading marksman Tom Bradshaw picking himself up, dusting himself down and scoring from the penalty spot after being upended by Reece Burke.

However, Bolton regained the lead in similar fashion in the 39th minute, Madine beating Davies with a spot-kick after Liam Lindsay was adjudged to have tripped Will Buckley, although there appeared to be minimal contact.

Bradshaw (pictured) went close to equalising for a second time just before the break when he headed over, and immediately after the interval he was twice denied by Ben Alnwick in the Bolton goal.

Harvey Barnes also teed up a chance for George Moncur whose shot was saved by Alnwick diving to his left.

And so it went on. Unbelievably three chances were missed in a matter of seconds when a Bradshaw strike was parried to Adam Hammill, whose header was clawed away as far as Brad Potts, a mere six yards out, but he failed to react quickly enough and the ball was snatched away from him.

Jason McCarthy then went close to his first goal for the club, Alnwick going down to turn the shot round the post, as the Reds continued to press.

In doing so, however, they were vulnerable to any swift counter-attack and, sure enough, Bolton added a game-clinching third goal in the 69th minute when Mark Little burst clear to the edge of the box and beat Davies with a right-footer into the left hand corner of the net.

Even then there was time for substitutes Ryan Hedges and Mamadou Thiam and Bradshaw to find the target, but still fail to find the net, as Alnwick produced three more saves.

The problem is that, although one might have expected a run like this with such a young and inexperienced side, the longer it goes on the more confidence is bound to be affected and Heckingbottom and his players need to bring it to an end as quickly as possible.

However they face a tough task in their next fixture. Although the Reds are at home, the opposition is Derby County, currently sixth in the table and looking to cement their place in the play-off positions.

And after that, in the run-up to Christmas, come away games at Brentford and Fulham!

Bolton: Alnwick; Little, Burke, Beevers, Robinson, Pratley, Henry, Ameobi (Noone, 83 mins), Veta, Buckley (Armstrong, 61 mins), Madine (Wilbraham, 87 mins).

Barnsley (4-1-4-1): Davies; McCarthy, Pearson, Lindsay, Yiadom; Williams (McGeehan, 90+1 mins); Hammill (Thiam, 68 mins), Potts, Moncur, Barnes (Hedges, 73 mins); Bradshaw.

Bookings: Pratley, Henry, Ameobi, Veta (Bolton); Yiadom, Williams, Potts, Bradshaw (Barnsley).

Referee: Oliver Langford.

Attendance: 14,371.



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