Bolton Wanderers 1, Albion 0

Albion will make it much harder for themselves to remove lingering fears of relegation unless they start scoring goals away from home.

Finding the net has not been an issue of late at the Amex. They have struck at least twice in each of the last five games, a sequence they will be hoping to continue against promotion contenders Derby County tomorrow night.

The famine on their travels is even worse than it seems at face value.

After another blank at Bolton they have now gone 388 minutes without a goal since Rohan Ince headed a second half winner from a free-kick at Charlton.

And it is 450 minutes since a goal in open play, converted by Chris O'Grady in the closing stages to clinch victory in Chris Hughton's first match in charge at Brentford in the FA Cup on January 3.

Goals from set pieces are not to be sniffed at, especially as Albion have fallen short in this respect in recent seasons.

It does not matter where they come from when you are still in peril, although Rotherham's obliging comeback victory against fellow strugglers Millwall maintained the six-point cushion over the drop zone.

Even so, seven-and-a-half hours is a helluva long time not to have fashioned a goal other than from a free-kick (Lewis Dunk opened the scoring also in that manner at Brentford).

Albion have still managed to grind out results on the road under Hughton. Five points from as many matches is a good return for a side in their position, so why is it an issue?

A glance at the remaining dozen fixtures provides the answer.

The visit by Derby, chastened no doubt by a surprise defeat at Fulham, is the first of five from six at the Amex against teams chasing promotion.

Wolves, Norwich, Bournemouth and Watford are also heading Albion's way. Only the penultimate game against Huddersfield has a win expectancy feel, if there is such justification in a division as competitive and unpredictable as the Championship.

Ipswich, another of the promotion contenders, were seen off last month, proving Albion are capable of beating top teams at the Amex.

The danger is they will be putting themselves under pressure to do just that unless they get a couple of victories from a less severe away programme which sends them to Reading, Millwall, Blackburn, Rotherham, Wigan and a closing examination at Middlesbrough.

Three of the next four matches are away after Derby and a blank Saturday, so the need for a goal or two is urgent to prevent the threat of League One still haunting them deep into Spring.

It does not help if your chief defence-unlocker is off-colour, as Joao Teixeira was at Bolton. He was overshadowed by his teenage rival in the number ten role, Zach Clough, who produced the one moment of class in the second half to provide Bolton with an undeserved victory.

The highly-rated 19-year-old's nimble feet inside the box earned him just enough space away from Dunk. He took the chance early, rolling an angled shot beyond David Stockdale before the under-employed keeper could set himself.

Teixeira endured 95 minutes of contrasting frustration. Booked for kicking the ball away, he often found space in-between the midfield and lone frontrunner Craig Mackail-Smith but either his touch or final ball let him down.

And when he had a couple of opportunities to equalise, shots were charged down by Bolton defenders, impressively determined to preserve their advantage.

Ben Amos, Wanderers' third-choice keeper on loan from Manchester United, was far busier than Stockdale.

He denied Sam Baldock in both halves and Beram Kayal from long range as Albion became the first side to fail to score against Bolton in the league since Millwall were also beaten 1-0 at the Macron Stadium in mid-December.

Ultimately it was the touch of stardust from Clough, the kid with a footballing name who could go on to really make a name for himself, that made the difference.

Hughton said: "Clough is in some ways a similar type player to Joao. It was probably the one real bit of quality in the game.

"But I thought we had decent chances, not great but decent. Sam in that first period, Joao when the ball comes across to him in the second half and I think if his touch is better he scores.

"The keeper made a couple of really good saves, albeit it from distance. I've no doubt the result could have been different."

Harsh though it was to lose, rather than chiselling out the draw they warranted, Albion cannot really complain about the Championship's fine margins.

They have won three and lost four by the odd goal under Hughton. Only against Leeds last week did they enjoy breathing space, although that should have been the case in the home game before against Birmingham.

It is funny how the problem for Albion has turned on its head. They could not buy a home result but have won three out of the last four in the league. Now it is an away goal drought causing concern.

The suspicion is that Teixeira, a bit like Kazenga LuaLua, is more effective back at base. That has certainly generally be the case.

Hence Albion may still be relying on the aerial prowess of a Dunk or Ince to gather enough points from what remains of their travels to help keep Millwall and Wigan at arm's length. The home defeat by the latter for Blackpool has surely cooked their goose.

Dale Stephens, continuing his comeback from ten months out injured as a second half substitute against the club he grew up supporting, said: "I think it's going to be that sort of game away from home when you find yourself down near the bottom of the table.

"First and foremost it's to get a clean sheet and hopefully nick the game but we are never going to be fluent goalscoring away from home. It's not been that all year. It's about three points, that's the main thing."

Three points that Albion need from their travels to Berkshire, South London, Lancashire, Yorkshire - anywhere to ensure difficult games at home do not turn into a couple of must-win games.