Lennon hails Wanderers’ character

Bolton boss Neil Lennon
Bolton boss Neil Lennon

Bolton manager Neil Lennon believes the mauling suffered at Reading last season may have acted as the spur that helped his side to draw 0-0 on their return to the Madejski Stadium on Saturday.

Bolton, under former boss Dougie Freedman, were thrashed 7-1 on their visit to Berkshire in January, but the Trotters had a much happier trip this time after picking up a hard-earned point that extends their unbeaten run to five matches.

Lennon said: “I’m sure that, subconsciously, that would have motivated us. It’s never easy coming to a stadium again after such a defeat as that.

“But we showed plenty of character today. We played very well in the first half without really hurting Reading. At times, on the counter-attack, in the second half, we were very good. We just missed the final pass or the final finish.

“Overall, we looked a good team, we looked confident and comfortable. We had good control of the game for long periods. We just missed that bit of quality in the final third.”

Bolton’s form has improved markedly since Lennon succeeded Freedman in October. They were bottom of the Championship when he took over but now lie 17th.

Lennon was unable to play new signing Eidur Gudjohnsen, the 36-year-old former Bolton, Chelsea and Barcelona striker, because the Icelander’s international clearance had not come through.

But Bolton began brightly nevertheless, with Max Clayton flashing a centre across the face of the goal that no team-mate was on hand to turn in.

In a generally poor first half, Reading controlled much of the proceedings with Jordan Obita, Garath McCleary and Oliver Norwood all wasting opportunities with poor efforts.

The second half was more lively, with both sides counter-attacking at pace and creating several openings.

Reading striker Glenn Murray had a close-range effort disallowed for offside and Tim Ream’s header was well saved by home goalkeeper Adam Federici.

Michael Hector, the Reading central defender, then completed a remarkable hat trick of misses in the space of a few minutes.

First, he misdirected a free header from an Obita corner, then he sliced a shot wildly wide before finishing up by drawing a stunning save out of Bolton goalkeeper Andy Lonergan with another header.

Darren Pratley and Ream squandered openings as Bolton regrouped but they were again indebted to Lonergan, near the end, when he made an athletic stop to keep out Danny Williams’ powerful drive.

Reading manager Nigel Adkins rued his side’s missed chances.

“We had more than enough opportunities to win the game,” Adkins said. “We looked a massive threat, especially from set-pieces, and were very creative against their zonal defence.

“We had the first contact on several of the balls that we’ve put into their area, short and long, and really we’ve got to put one of them in the back of the net.

“We weren’t good enough in the first half-hour so I changed it around a bit. We were dominant going in at half time but, afterwards, we just couldn’t that all-important goal that probably changes the mood of everyone. Still, we looked very solid defensively.”