‘Embarrassing’ Bolton hammered by Reading

Last weekend Brian McDermott was left red-faced after his Leeds side were thrashed 6-0 by Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough. This time it was Bolton manager Dougie Freedman’s turn to feel “embarrassed” after his side were thumped 7-1 by Reading, who moved back into the play-offs.

“I’m not going to stick up for anyone. It was embarrassing. Not too many stood up for the jersey,” Freedman said post-match.

“I don’t want many days like that and I certainly wasn’t prepared for a half-time speech [with Reading 4-0 up] like that. It had to come from the heart. I told the players to play for their pride and their place in the team but I didn’t see too many players who wanted that.”

David N’Gog was perhaps the only player to raise a smile from any remaining visiting fans when he ran into the net to grab the ball after scoring an 88th minute consolation goal, only to stop in his tracks when he clearly realised his side had little over two minutes to score seven goals.

It’s been a rotten season so far overall for Bolton, considered one of the favourites for promotion before the season began, spending the opening two months in the relegation zone and only winning their first game at the 12th attempt. 11 points from a possible 15 afterwards saw the Trotters seemingly clawing their way back into contention but a recent dip in form has seen the club slide back to 18th and only four points above the relegation zone.

As for Freedman, hindsight is a wonderful thing but leaving Crystal Palace last season with the Eagles better placed than Bolton was a gamble that looks to have backfired spectacularly. Not only did Palace make it to the Premier League with Bolton just missing out on the play-offs, Freedman’s departure from Selhurst Park left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Palace faithful who now widely refer to their former long-serving hero as ‘Greedman’.

Now understandably under pressure at the Reebok, the Bolton boss will have to gear his side up for another trip down south to face QPR on Tuesday night. The Hoops leaped to second after a narrow win over Huddersfield, taking advantage of Burnley’s failure to beat Sheffield Wednesday. The two results meant Leicester extended their lead at the top to five points thanks to a late win over Leeds.

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The Foxes’ sixth straight league win sent an ominous message to the rest of the promotion pack because they were far from their best but still ground out the three points against a side that were unrecognisable from the shambles of a weekend ago – some comfort at least for the previously beleaguered McDermott.

Events at the other end of the table raised many eyebrows on Saturday evening with the bottom four at the start of play all winning. Ian Holloway was straight off the mark on his debut at the New Den as his Millwall side beat Ipswich 1-0, a result that lifted the club above Charlton – defeated at Middlesbrough – who are now only above Doncaster in the drop zone on goal difference.

Donny’s 3-0 win over Wigan was a particular eye-catcher considering Paul Dickov’s side were without a win since November. Barnsley and Yeovil’s wins over Blackpool and Birmingham respectively were each club’s first since December 3 but the other results meant both are still four points adrift.

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