Leeds United made a positive response to the sacking of David Hockaday as Stephen Warnock goal secured their second win of the Championship season.
Warnock struck midway through the first half to send Leeds into the international break in a better frame of mind after a difficult week at Elland Road.
Hockaday’s reign as head coach ended after just 70 days on Thursday and a changed team reacted positively to the dismissal, beating a struggling Bolton side at Elland Road.
Control of the squad fell to caretaker Neil Redfearn after Hockaday’s sacking, the third time in two-and-a-half years that United’s academy manager has been asked to step into the breach.
Redfearn broke away from Hockaday’s formula by giving Lewis Cook his full league debut and playing teenager Alex Mowatt for the first time this season. Casper Sloth was also given a debut after receiving international clearance in time to play.
Bolton’s start to the season has been more difficult than United’s but they almost snatched the lead after 13 minutes through a cutting counter-attack.
Joe Mason picked up a classy through-ball and sprinted away from Jason Pearce before producing a shot which goalkeeper Marco Silvestri turned onto the face of his crossbar.
United’s first chance came as Sloth fired over the crossbar from 20 yards but they went ahead on 18 minutes when they worked the ball out to Stephen Warnock who drilled an angle shot into the far corner of Bolton’s net.
Leeds controlled much of the first half but called on Silvestri again before the interval. Mason appeared on the end of another quick break but could only drill a rising effort into the Italian’s midriff from six yards out.
Silvestri kept United’s lead intact again early in the second half with saves in quick succession from Jay Spearing and Mason, moments after Warnock was lost to injury, and Bolton saw far more possession as the intensity of United’s performance dropped.
Scott Wootton’s tackle prevented Mason from tucking away a good chance and Silvestri met Lee Chung-Yong’s strike from 20 yards with a good parry on 65 minutes.
United’s keeper was on hand again to deal with Neil Danns’ effort as the game strayed into the last quarter of an hour but even the late introduction of former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford failed to force an equaliser.
Beckford should have levelled deep into injury-time but drove a free header from point-blank range straight at the outstanding Silvestri.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock (C Taylor 55), Cook, Mowatt, Bianchi, Sloth (Benedicic 78), Sharp, Antenucci. Subs (not used): S Taylor, Cooper, Dawson, Tonge, Smith.
Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, Mills, Wheater (Dervite 6), Ream, White, Medo (Feeney 82), Spearing, Danns, Lee, C Davies (Beckford 78), Mason. Subs (not used): Lonergan, Pratley, Hughes, Hall.