Teenager Clough stars for Bolton

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

ASPEC­TAC­U­LAR late lev­eller from James Henry saw Wolves sal­vage a dra­matic point at the Macron – and spoil a fairy­tale league de­but for Bolton striker Zach Clough.

Clough, 19, hadn’t played a minute since mark­ing his first pro­fes­sional ap­pear­ance by scor­ing the win­ner against Wi­gan in the FA Cup third round.

But af­ter Nouha Dicko gave the vis­i­tors an early lead, the teenager scored twice in as many min­utes – the first a sub­lime free-kick – to show just why Neil Len­non had given him the nod ahead of ex-Barcelona man Eidur Gud­johnsen.

And while sub­sti­tute Henry’s in­jury-time screamer left the Bolton boss de­flated, he was de­lighted with his pint-sized boy won­der.

“It was an amaz­ing per­for­mance from Zach,” said the for­mer Celtic boss. “Es­pe­cially when you con­sider he hasn’t kicked a ball for three weeks.

“He’s got a lot of nat­u­ral abil­ity. He’s con­fi­dent, but qui­etly con­fi­dent. He’s got a good low cen­tre of grav­ity, he’s got that change of pace. He does ev­ery­thing clean and crisp, whether that’s pass­ing or mak­ing de­ci­sions.

“And he’s pro­gressed very quickly since we brought him in to train with the first team.That’s three goals in two games – it’s quite a con­tri­bu­tion the kid’s mak­ing.

“I have to be mind­ful not to build him up into some­thing he could pos­si­bly be. He might never get there. But he’s a mas­sive tal­ent, no doubt about that. Mind you, I don’t know where that free-kick came from – I’ve never seen him do that be­fore!”

Much has been made of the golden oldies in Bolton’s for­ward line, but if Clough keeps scor­ing at this rate, the end could be nigh for Gud­johnsen and Emile Heskey.

In­cred­i­bly, Clough was born on the ex­act same day that Heskey made his Le­ices­ter City de­but in 1995, by which time Gud­johnsen was al­ready ply­ing his trade with Dutch gi­ants PSV.

Yet while their glory days are gone, Clough’s surely lie ahead. His first goal was a pearler, a pin-point free-kick swirled pow­er­fully over the wall and into the far cor­ner be­yond a rooted Carl Ikeme.

His sec­ond, fol­low­ing a pow­er­ful run from left-back Tim Ream, then show­cased both com­po­sure and pre­ci­sion as he turned in­side Danny Batth to side­foot into the cor­ner.

Hav­ing taken a third-minute lead when Dicko raced onto Kevin McDon­ald’s fab­u­lous first-time ball, Wolves were left shell-shocked and spent the re­main­der of the half cling­ing on for dear life.

Wolves manager Kenny Jack­ett felt his side im­proved in the sec­ond half, but if they did it was mar­ginal.

Though the fruit­less long stuff ceased, the vis­i­tors lacked any real thrust or imag­i­na­tion and as Len­non pointed out, keeper Andy Lon­er­gan didn’t make a save.

In­deed, it was Bolton who en­joyed the bet­ter chances, the best fall­ing to Clough who con­trolled a knock­down from debu­tant Adam Le Fon­dre – signed from Cardiff on Fri­day – be­fore forc­ing a save out of Ikeme.

“Adam im­proved us,” added Len­non. “He was in­tel­li­gent, he held it up. Ev­ery­thing stuck to him and I thought he de­served to be on the win­ning side.”

In fair­ness to Wolves, they never stopped graft­ing and they got their re­ward as a long clear­ance reached Henry who lanced an un­stop­pable ex­o­cet into the top cor­ner from 30 yards.

“If that isn’t our goal of the sea­son I’d be very sur­prised,” said Jack­ett, whose side are now un­beaten in eight games.

“It was a fan­tas­tic strike that I don’t think any goal­keeper would have stopped. James has real qual­ity and to be hon­est I think we missed his set-pieces as well. He made a real im­pact.”

Jack­ett also ex­pressed his con­vic­tion that QPR tar­get Bakary Sako – cur­rently on African Na­tions Cup duty with Mali – would re­main at Molineux be­yond Mon­day.

“If the phone rings, the phone rings,” he said. “But I don’t think any­one will come in for Sako.”

KING JAMES: Wolves’ James Henry cel­e­brates scor­ing the dra­matic late equaliser

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

TEENAGE KICKS: Zach Clough on his way to scor­ing his sec­ond goal. Inset: Clough cel­e­brates with his team-mates

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