CLOUGH’S MADE OF RIGHT STUFF
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.”
TEENAGE KICKS: Zach Clough scores the only goal of the game
BATTLE: Barry Bannan and Biram Kayal go for the ball