ZACH ATTACK UNDONE BY LATE HEROICS FROM HENRY
Teenager Clough stars for Bolton
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
TEENAGE KICKS: Zach Clough on his way to scoring his second goal. Inset: Clough celebrates with his team-mates