Leeds 2-1 Bolton: Caleb Ekuban and Pablo Hernandez goals see off Trotters
Last Updated: 01/04/18 7:27pm
Caleb Ekuban and Pablo Hernandez scored as Leeds beat Bolton 2-1 to record just their second victory of 2018.
Ekuban's first Sky Bet Championship goal gave the hosts a fourth-minute lead which Hernandez doubled early in the second half at Elland Road.
Adam Le Fondre quickly pulled one back for Wanderers but they could not find an equaliser and remain six points clear of the relegation zone.
Bolton invited early pressure, with captain Andrew Taylor's under-hit back pass in the second minute being picked off by Ekuban. He teed up Ezgjan Alioski but the winger could only curl an effort wide of the far post.
The visitors did not have respite for long. Pierre-Michel Lasogga's ball in from the right was not dealt with and it fell for Ekuban to poke home the opener.
Bolton should have been level after 10 minutes but Jan Kirchoff could not steer his close-range header on target from Sammy Ameobi's corner.
It was the visitors' only real chance of the half, while Leeds were a threat on the break on numerous occasions.
One counter ended with Lasogga stretching to meet an Alioski cross but the German forward's effort flew well wide of Ben Alnwick's left post.
Another saw Hernandez release Alioski, who had the beating of Taylor, but his effort from the edge of the area crept just past the right post.
Just before half-time another Leeds break ended with a Hernandez cross almost being nodded into his own goal by Mark Beevers, before Pontus Jansson headed against the crossbar from the resulting corner.
The hosts continued their search for a second after the interval, with Alnwick providing a fine save to deny Hernandez after good work from Alioski down the right, before Lasogga volleyed over from close range.
A second goal duly arrived five minutes into the second period. Alioski caused more problems for Taylor before being denied by Alnwick and the rebound was controlled and turned in by Hernandez for his eighth goal of the campaign.
But Bolton got themselves back into the game two minutes later through Le Fondre, who headed in his third goal in four games after being picked out by Ameobi's inswinging free-kick.
And they should have been level two minutes later when an unmarked Will Buckley flashed a header across the face of goal from Jon Flanagan's cross.
Alnwick kept the visitors in the game with a brilliant save in the 69th minute, stretching out a boot to deny Ekuban who had been released through on goal by Stuart Dallas.
Ameobi's goal-bound effort was blocked by Eunan O'Kane but it was the hosts who ended strongly, with Matthew Pennington heading over and Ekuban being denied again by Alnwick in the final minute of normal time.
Paul Heckingbottom: "I've always said the best bit of this job is the games and the best bit of that is winning. That's what it's all about so I'm delighted with the win and the three points. And it was deserved. (We started well) in both halves. We wanted to be on the front foot and aggressive and set the tempo.
"Ultimately it was us who made the game difficult for ourselves by not really capitalising when we were on top, not taking our chances and conceding when we were in a comfortable stage of the game. There were definitely a lot of chances we should've put away."
Phil Parkinson: "Today was a setback. We started slowly. We always knew coming here today - in front of a big crowd against a team that could've potentially been nervous - we needed to start well.
"At 2-0 down we could've let our heads drop but we didn't. We got the goal back and we had a couple of good chances to get the equaliser. We've got to give our lads credit that they kept going but equally we need to analyse the start of the game and what we need to do better."