Lennon’s fury as Wanderers let it slip

Bolton boss Neil Lennon
Bolton boss Neil Lennon

An angry Neil Lennon was disappointed with referee Mark Haywood’s display and his Bolton side’s defensive slackness as FA Cup quarter-finalists Reading stole a stoppage-time point at the Macron Stadium.

Veteran Eidur Gudjohnsen’s fourth goal of his Wanderers comeback at the age of 36 was cancelled out by Jamie Mackie’s 92nd-minute leveller.

Bolton also lost Kevin McNaughton (leg), David Wheater (hamstring) and top scorer Zach Clough (shoulder) before half-time.

“We were excellent but losing three players to injury is incredible,” said Lennon who confirmed he may have to return to the loan market because of his side’s lengthy injury list.

“I don’t think I have come across that before. It is another three who could be long term.

“But we were brilliant in the second half apart from conceding late on again. I don’t know if it is lack of concentration or just bad luck but we didn’t deserve that.

“We just have to learn to see the game through. We are not in massive trouble but we could have been a lot more comfortable.”

Lennon saved his worst vitriol for Mr Haywood and his officials, adding: “It is not sour grapes but the refereeing performance was nothing short of appalling.

“McNaughton gets kicked right in front of the linesman and nothing is given. Clough gets tackled from behind the referee waves play on. He actually gave a throw in to us in the second half and let Reading take it.

“I asked the fourth official to explain that decision and he couldn’t. You despair sometimes.”

Mr Haywood swapped his original black shirt for a green one during the interval with Lennon suggesting: “We should have changed the referee.

“Someone from the crowd would have done a better job. They would have been able to keep up with the game better too.

“The game was a wrestling match and the referee was so inconsistent in his decision making. Our fans could see it. This guy made decisions that beggared belief but he was bad for both teams.”

Royals boss Steve Clarke was pleased to get a point out of the game and said: “There were two teams out there desperate to win.

“We shaded the first half, got into good decent positions but couldn’t find the finish to put us in front.

“I was disappointed with goal we lost but after that we showed good character, determination and resilience to get something out of this game.”

When asked about Saturday’s FA Cup sixth-round tie at Bradford, he added: “This was the biggest game of the week. And the biggest game of next week will be Brighton at home.

“The league is your bread and butter; the cup competitions are little added bonuses. We have got to get more points in the league.

“We are only 10 points off the bottom three and we are too far away from the play-offs. We have a determination and desire to get as far up the table as we can as quickly as possible.”

Clarke will give his squad a day off on Wednesday before preparing to face the Bantams.

He added: “We will re-convene on Thursday, I will speak to the press about the FA Cup and then prepare my team for the game.”

Clarke also defended his players from suggestions they contributed to Wanderers’ injuries, adding: “It was a physical game but I don’t think it was a wrestling match.

“Clough fell on pitch and dislocated his shoulder. It wasn’t anything to do with a challenge.

“McNaughton stood in front of (Jordan) Obita as he kicked the ball. You have to be fair. I don’t think there was anything untoward in any of the injuries.

“I am sure he (Lennon) mentioned the referees’ performance. I will second it.”