Zola looking for response

Gianfranco Zola may have seen his side come up short against Bolton Wanderers on Sunday but he expects them to be better for the experience.

The manager said he hopes to turn the 3-1 defeat into a positive for his squad, who still sit in sixth place and within striking distance of third-place Hull City who they meet in a fortnight. "It might be rhetoric but games like this can help you too - one step backwards and two steps forward. We need to improve the mentality. Sometimes you are 1-0 down and you need to react to that and not accept it," Zola said.

After the home side had enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges, Bolton scored two quick goals to lead 2-0 at half-time. Zola said: "When you find your team playing well as we were before the goal and you expect to score at any moment and then instead the goal comes from opposition it was quite a surprise. But this is football and we need to improve and we need to believe that it won't be like this all the time.

"Until the goal we were completely in control of the game and we were doing what we were supposed to do. Sometimes they were sitting with six players on the back line and three players in front of them so it was very difficult for us to find a place to break in."

Zola tried to change things round by bringing on the fresh legs of Craig Bellamy and Freddie Sears as his side worked hard to break through a stubborn Bolton back line. "We tried to find the solution but it wasn't easy. There were too many bodies in there and the only way round them was on the flanks. We tried to do that and we created one chance when [Valon] Behrami had a great shot. But it's not easy when you come up against a team defending so well the way they do."

Zola had no complaints about his team's attitude in the first half, saying: "To be fair to the players they were doing exactly what they were supposed to be doing. We had a couple of chances in which we could have been better and also scored. It's not easy when you are playing well and you give a goal away and then five minutes later you give another one away with the only chance they had. That can really destroy your confidence."

Several members of the first-team squad will be joining up with their respective international squads this week but for the players remaining at Chadwell Heath, Zola will use the time to good use. "It's a pity that we could not play next week as I would like to have had a game but I'm sure the players will come back stronger. I'm totally confidant that through the work they'll be doing during the week they're going to get better and going to get stronger mentally."

Robert Green was involved in both the visitors' opening goals - some confusion at the back allowed Kevin Davies to score and then for the second he made a fantastic save only for Gary Cahill to put the rebound in. Zola though had nothing but praise for his stopper, who has again been selected by England. "He's disappointed. But I have nothing to say as he's a great goalkeeper and he has all my trust and all the team's trust. Everybody believes in him. Today it has been a bad day for him ... football is like that. You should always have confidence in what you are doing."

Carlton Cole's fourth goal of the season gave some hope late on but that was wiped away by Matt Taylor's late free-kick. It confirmed the defeat, and hardened Zola's resolve for next time. "It is painful. It was painful as a footballer and it is a manager, maybe even more so. It is painful to lose, but more painful to lose when you don't think you deserve to. But we will come back stronger after this. I feel bad inside when I'm losing a game like that and you should react quickly."