That was the surreal double whammy that greeted travelling fans at Elland Road last night as Phil Parkinson’s side slid out of the Carabao Cup at the first hurdle.
Erhun Oztumer scored on his debut to give his team some hope in a spirited second-half showing, and the former Walsall man gave travelling fans hope a new hero is in the making with a busy performance.
But Leeds’ victory, given to them by goals from Patrick Bamford and Samu Saiz, will quickly fade into the background given the transfer announcement incredibly made 22 minutes after kick off.
It might have felt like a good time to bury bad news – as that is how Adam Le Fondre’s exit has been perceived by the majority of Bolton fans who have taken him to their hearts.
There had already been a touch of misdirection with 10 changes, including the long-awaited full debut of Connor Hall.
Oztumer, Marc Wilson, Jack Hobbs, Jonathan Grounds, Remi Matthews and Clayton Donaldson all got their first taste of football in Bolton colours too.
Josh Vela got the captain’s armband, and within a minute the home-grown midfielder gave chase to Tyler Roberts to make an important challenge on the edge of the box, showing exactly what that honour meant to him.
Leeds should have gone ahead 15 minutes in when Lewis Baker chipped a brilliant pass over Wilson’s head to pick out Bamford, only for the £10million striker to stroke his shot wide with the goal begging.
The former Middlesbrough man would give a more realistic representation of his talent a few minutes later but not before Wanderers had made a couple of chances for themselves.
Hobbs sent a rather tame header at keeper Jamal Blackman from Vela’s corner before Gary O’Neil slashed a volley disappointingly wide from the edge of the box after Leeds had failed to clear the long throw.
Wanderers had a different attacking dimension with Oztumer, always willing to receive the ball in little pockets of space around the penalty box. Cutting through the Leeds back line, however, was proving problematic.
Leeds started to get their game together midway through the half and encouraged by a retreating Bolton midfield, Bamford showed home fans what they had spent their money on.
A cute flick around Wilson followed by a precise finish in the bottom corner livened up a sedate atmosphere at Elland Road.
Eight minutes later it was two – albeit Saiz’s excellent strike rather faded into the background when confirmation of Le Fondre’s exit was drifted out on the official website.
Almost instantaneously the travelling fans – in fine voice all night – began to sing the striker’s name.
To say it cast a cloud over the second half would be slightly unfair. Wanderers picked up their performance and played some decent football on the break.
Oztumer got them back into it with a fine left-footed finish into the bottom corner after Hall’s shot had been blocked.
Youngster Hall had run his socks off but failed to get much change out of two experienced and powerful defenders in Pontus Jansson and Luke Ayling.
Parkinson threw on Josh Magennis and Craig Noone off the bench to try and push for an equaliser and nearly got one when Yanic Wildschut went bursting through on a long ball only to struggle to get a proper shot away past Blackman.
Grounds also had a golden opportunity when Wildschut’s shot bounced off the Leeds keeper and he ballooned his follow up high into the stands.
Wanderers gave just as good as they got in the second half and Oztumer in particular gave his manager something to think about when the team travels to Reading on Saturday.
Wildschut showed why Parkinson had brought him in with a few rapid bursts down the left but still looks to have a touch of rustiness about his game which will hopefully soon disappear.
Result aside, it was a relatively successful experiment for the Bolton boss. And few tears will be shed about missing out in the Carabao Cup.
Whether the same can be said about Le Fondre's exit is a different matter entirely.
Subs: Noone 6, 56 (for Donaldson), Magennis 6, 65 (for Hall), Taylor 73 (for Grounds)
Not used: Alnwick, Beevers, Olkowski, Pritchard.
Leeds: Blackman, Pearce, Jansson, Ayling, Shackleton, Baker, Phillips, Harrison, Saiz, Roberts, Bamford.
Subs: Klich 69 (for Roberts), Alioski 69 (for Saiz), Roofe 80 (for Bamford).
Not used: Huffer, Beradi, De Bock, Shaughnessy.
Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear) 6.
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