Leeds United travelled to the Reebok Stadium looking to get back to winning ways after losing last time out to QPR. There was only one change from the side that lost that game to Harry Redknapp's side and it saw Michael Tonge come in for Paul Green in midfield.
With Bolton sitting bottom of the table, the 5,000 strong travelling army could be forgiven for fearing the worst given United's record against sides at the foot of the table. However, it was only five minutes before they were celebrating when Luke Varney had the ball in the back of the net. Luke Murphy whipped in a corner which Varney met and he guided the ball past Adam Bogdan in the Bolton goal who was in no man's land.
It was just the start Brian McDermott will have dreamt about and from there on in his side look to take control of the game. Whilst Bolton came into it as the game went on, they created nothing to trouble Paddy Kenny other than a chance for David N'Gog and that was a chance in which the former Liverpool man was offside anyway.
Shortly before the first half came to an end United should have doubled their lead and probably should have even tripled it. Some good work from Noel Hunt saw him play through Ross McCormack who opted not to go to goal but to give the ball back to Hunt and he really should have scored. However, the former Reading man failed to hit the target and his effort was scuffed wide.
Goal hero Luke Varney was the next man guilty of not taking a golden opportunity. It was once again Ross McCormack who provided the assist for the chance and Varney was sent through on goal. United's number eleven choose to take his shot early, too early some might say, and his effort curled past the post. Another great chance missed.
The second half started in a similar fashion with the home side struggling to make any real impact on the game. Jermaine Beckford was introduced to proceedings and received his usual love-in from the United faithful. It's certainly not unrequited love however as the former United hero produced a Leeds salute before entering the field of play.
The next big chance once again fell to the away team. Varney came in on goal from the left and some good work set up a shooting opportunity. This time his effort was on target but unfortunately went straight at Adam Bogdan and it was easy for the flame-haired keeper to deal with.
The home side only started to look dangerous in the latter stages of the game when the introduction of Robert Hall seemed to send the Whites defence into panic mode. His speed and ability on the ball were starting to cause some problems and a couple of penalty shouts, mainly from the stands, were turned away by referee Andy D'Urso.
All those great chances that United missed were threatening to come back to haunt them when Bolton had possibly their best chance of the game. Substitute Beckford helped tee up N'Gog in the box and his effort from close range went just passed the post and the Leeds supporters, out singing the home support throughout, could breath a sigh of relief.
Leeds held on for a richly deserved 1-0 win at the Reebok Stadium with the only disappointment being the missed chances. This could have been a much more emphatic victory but you can't have it all. Michael Tonge had a really good game and despite his missed chance, Noel Hunt put in a much improved performance. Varney took his goal well and put in bags of effort all afternoon. All in all it was a great win for Leeds United and Brian McDermott recorded his third away win in all competitions this season. Neil Warnock managed four in the whole of the last campaign.
Below are the thoughts of the two managers:
"Have we given up on automatic promotion? We'll never give up. Anything can happen in professional sport.
Obviously we're disappointed with the result. To concede a goal after seven minutes was disappointing but we didn't have too many clear opportunities and that's the biggest disappointment.
I'm certainly not worried because this is professional sport. You have your ups and downs but we've really got to start games better."
"To come away and win 1-0 at Bolton is a great result.
We're trying to get a group together that's difficult to play against but also we're trying to get a group that can control games better with the ball.
We've been working at our set plays because they've been really important to us and it was a great delivery and a really good header from Luke."