ZACH Clough ended the worst run of Neil Lennon’s managerial career and was then challenged to take his scoring skills on the road with Bolton.
The 19-year-old Mancunian striker settled a low-key 1-0 Sky Bet Championship victory over Brighton with his sixth goal of the year after 64 minutes.
All six have come at the Macron Stadium with Wanderers boss Lennon saying: “He needs to learn to score away from home now. This is me being hard on him.
“But it was a great finish, wasn’t it? He’s probably not had a look where the keeper was.
“But it’s instinctive; it’s natural and it’s something you can’t coach. We started him in a slightly different position and he found it difficult to get in the game.
“I had to change things round and get him in a more central position. You have to remember he is only nine games into his career.
“There will be peaks and troughs along the way. But it’s a great learning curve for these young players.”
Wanderers’ defeat at Middlesbrough last Tuesday was the first time former Celtic boss Lennon had suffered three successive losses as a manager.
And the home side struggled to get into the contest again until Clough’s pulled off a superb angled finish from Josh Vela’s through ball.
“It’s something I have not been used to so it’s a test of character as a manager to see what you have got,” Lennon added.
“So, I am glad we won. I wasn’t overly enamoured with the performance but the result was the most important thing.
“You could tell we were edgy because of the run we have been on but second half we were a lot better and I thought we deserved to win the game.”
Former England Under 21 international Ben Amos, deputising for injured Andy Lonergan, made a vital save in each half to deny Sam Baldock while also keeping out a long-range effort from Beram Kayal.
“Ben has given us some calmness and composure at the back, allied to that the centre-halves, Wheater and Mills, were excellent,” said Lennon.
Meanwhile, Brighton boss Chris Hughton saw his team’s four-game unbeaten run come to an end.
He said: “I don’t feel it is a game we deserved to lose. But we probably had to do more to go and win it.
“The clear-cut chances were minimal for both sides. We had a period where I didn’t think we were going to concede and it was going to be the team that showed a bit of quality would turn the game in their favour.
“And it was one real bit of quality that changed the game. It is disappointing because we didn’t reach the heights, especially in front of goal, we have in the last couple of games.
“I certainly don’t think Bolton were any better than us but they got the break when it counted.”
On Clough’s latest telling contribution Hughton added: “He made a fairly stock run onto the ball. But what he did at the end of it has enabled him to score the goal.
“We have seen a fair amount of footage of him and certainly he is a talent and a bright young player.”