The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By John McDougall

ZACH Clough’s strike to hand Bolton victory over Brighton left Neil Len­non purring as he lauded his young star’s in­stinc­tive fin­ish­ing cre­den­tials.

The teenage sen­sa­tion fired in his sixth of the sea­son af­ter the break as the Trot­ters won their first league game in four.

And though Len­non ad­mit­ted he would like to give more of his young guns a chance, the Trot­ters must first fire them­selves fur­ther up the ta­ble.

“He prob­a­bly hasn’t had a look where the goal­keeper is and he just knows in­stinc­tively,” said Len­non.

“It’s nat­u­ral, so it’s some­thing that you can’t coach, you just let him get on with it.

“We have to re­mem­ber he’s only nine games into his ca­reer, so there will be dips and there will be peaks and troughs along the way.

“I’d like to give th­ese guys more time but just the sit­u­a­tion we find our­selves in, it’s more for the ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers at the minute un­til we can math­e­mat­i­cally be com­fort­able in the di­vi­sion, then we can look to build for next sea­son.

“I wasn’t over-en­am­ored with the per­for­mance but the re­sult was the most im­por­tant thing and it’s some­thing to grab hold of and go for­ward with.”

The vis­i­tors al­most took an early ad­van­tage when Scot­land striker Craig Mack­ail-Smith darted down the right-wing and his sixth minute cross found Sam Bal­dock at the back post, who drew a sub­lime save from Ben Amos.

As chances came at a pre­mium, David Wheater knocked down to Emile Heskey af­ter the half-hour but the ex-Eng­land man fired off tar­get.

Trot­ters Amer­i­can left-back Tim Ream took mat­ters into his own hands on 38 min­utes by driv­ing for­ward and evad­ing a chal­lenge to un­leash a fierce strike from dis­tance straight at David Stock­dale.

Af­ter the break, Liam Feeney’s 49th-minute right-wing cross found Heskey, whose sliced ef­fort came back in from Ream on the op­po­site flank. But the vet­eran, for­mer Liver­pool for­ward, fired his sec­ond bite at the cherry wide of the tar­get.

Out of noth­ing, Beram Kayal fired in a 52nd-minute strike from dis­tance and Amos pushed the pow­er­ful ef­fort wide.

Hes­i­tancy in the Bolton rear­guard nearly cost them, as nei­ther Amos nor his de­fend­ers dealt with a Mack­ail-Smith ball on the hour and Bal­dock’s ef­fort was even­tu­ally smoth­ered by the stop­per.

But, mo­ments af­ter a goal­mouth scram­ble at one end, Bolton took the lead.

Ris­ing star Clough, who turns 20-years-old next week­end, com- bined with Josh Vela to cut through the Seag­ulls de­fence and slot past Stock­dale with a cool 64th-minute ef­fort.

Liver­pool loa­nee Joao Teix­eira looked the most likely to draw the Seag­ulls level and would have done but for tow­er­ing cen­tre­back Wheater’s ex­pert 71st-minute block in the box.

Brighton boss Chris Hughton felt his team de­served to take some­thing from a close con­test.

“I cer­tainly don’t feel it’s a game we de­served to lose. I thought that the clear-cut chances were min­i­mal from both sides,” said the for­mer Spurs de­fender.

“We had a pe­riod where I didn’t think we were go­ing to con­cede and I think it was go­ing to be the one team that showed that lit­tle bit of some­thing, that lit­tle bit of qual­ity that maybe was go­ing to turn the game in their favour.

“I thought we had some de­cent chances, maybe should have made more of the time, cer­tainly in that first half where we broke and broke re­ally well.

“But it was the one real bit of qual­ity that has changed the game.

“I cer­tainly don’t think Bolton were any bet­ter than us, they just got the break when it counted.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

TEENAGE KICKS: Zach Clough scores the only goal of the game

BATTLE: Barry Ban­nan and Bi­ram Kayal go for the ball

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