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Why Southend win was a big step in Bolton Wanderers' recovery

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
For more than two years, Wanderers fans knew exactly what was in store when their team conceded the first goal.

In what became an oft-quoted statistic during their time in the Championship, Bolton had not come back to win a game in which they went behind since March 2017.

Until Saturday, that is.

The victory against Southend United was not for the purists, fans, players and manager agreeing that there were mistakes which need to be ironed out if Wanderers are to get anything against Sunderland this afternoon.

But Keith Hill believes fighting to get back into the game shows something about his players’ mentality which may have been lacking in the past.

“Psychologically it’s what you are made of, can you get back into a game like that?” he asked. “It wasn’t nice, it wasn’t a good game, but we got something.

“I watched Middlesbrough the other night and there was frustration among their fans. There is frustration around everyone about the situation we find ourselves in and the only way we can put it right is by winning football matches.

“So to be one down against Southend and not playing particularly well, I think it’s a good response from the players. It shows they have got fight. To end up winning that game was really, really important, so I am pleased with the players, they were not a victim of the circumstances.

“I am pleased most of all that we’re getting some reward for the hard work that we’re doing.”

Phil Parkinson will be hoping to find a similar way to win at Sunderland, at least until he can bring in his own men in January to supplement the squad he inherited from Jack Ross.

After taking charge of Bolton in the summer of 2016 he ended a long-running wait for an away win, coming from a goal down to beat AFC Wimbledon, and did the same later in the campaign against Fleetwood, Walsall and Northampton Town.

Getting the same resolve at his current club is proving problematic and though they have come from behind to claim a point against Coventry and Blackpool in recent weeks, their wait for consistency continues.

Midfielder Luke O’Nien hopes his manager can be given time to bed down.

“The new manager is a good man and I’ve really enjoyed working under him,” he said.

“I’ve been a part of every single day and I know how hard they work and what they want from us.

“When results aren’t going our way, it’s not always easy to see things like that [fans wanting a change]. I understand why there would be, because the fans have high expectations and when those expectations aren’t met then I can understand their frustration coming out.

“But what I’ve learned in the last year and a half of being at this club is that the fans are accepting that results aren’t always going to go their way, and what they want is people who work their hardest every single day. They want to see people giving their all for the badge and the club, and the manager is no different to that.

“The manager and his staff give exactly what the fans want – they work hard, they give their all for the badge and want the club to succeed. Fans don’t get to see the work that goes on behind the scenes. It’s not exactly going to plan on the pitch, but I think with time you can see things starting to change and we’re starting to get momentum.”


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