Today the Bolton Wanderers took the field for the first time since their relegation in May, against Ayr United up in Scotland. Ayr United reside in Scotland's third division, and have had a mixed preseason thus far. Somerset Park seemed as good of a place as any to start the preseason. While it wasn't exactly started with a bang, some interesting points were brought up by the Trotters' draw with the Honest Men.
Owen Coyle put forward a 4-4-1-1, but with some new faces in there. Adam Bogdan of course started at goalkeeper. Tyrone Mears, who came to Bolton last summer but has been injured for most of his tenure at the club, started at right back, while more experienced Sam Ricketts took up the left. New signing Matt Mills partnered Zat Knight in the middle of defense. Chung-Yong Lee, who returned from injury at the very end of last season, returned to his old spot on the right wing, while Martin Petrov deputised the left. Keith Andrews, another recent addition to the squad also started in the centre midfield with Mark Davies. The strikers were Kevin Davies and Chris Eagles, although the latter probably delved into the midfield a bit as well.
This lineup was experimented with heavily, as to be expected in a game like this, and before the final whistle Coyle had completely changed the team. Ayr United clearly did not intend for this to be a school yard excercise, and put up a tough show. Their forays forward exposed similar defensive frailties found last season, and they limited chances from the Wanderers, ensuring the match was 0-0 at halftime.
Bolton scored in the 70th minute, as substitute Marcos Alonso put the ball away off a pass from Tom Eaves. Ayr equalised just 8 minutes later, presumably taking advantage of the fact the young keeper Jay Lynch was not yet settled as he had just come on*. The match turned "pedestrian" for the last 10 minutes or so, according to the Bolton commentary, and the final whistle blew with the score 1-1.
Of course, the usual Bolton panic machine immediately went into effect on Twitter, overreaction and all, but from where we're sitting this is not a bad result. A win doesn't matter in a match like this, in fact an unsuccessful game that displays weaknesses is probably more useful in preseason. Coyle took the right angle on this, and I look forward to the highlights.
*This seems not to have phased him much, as he tweeted:
— Jay Lynch (@JayLynchy) July 18, 2012
Good for him!