Four matches into the preseason and the Bolton Wanderers remain without a win. Today's match against Crewe Alexandra ended in yet another 1-1 draw. This has of course led to unnecessary dramatics from fans, including some minority shouts for Coyle Out again. While that is uncalled for, and certainly premature, there is definitely a certain amount of frustration building due to the Whites inability to convert dominance into goals and results.
Once again Bolton fell behind early, conceding on the 11th minute. Mathias Pogba, who would be the principal irritant for the makeshift Bolton defense throughout the entire match, cued up Max Clayton, who planted the ball in the bottom right hand corner of the goal. Just 7 minutes later Crewe had the opportunity to double their lead when Zat Knight pulled up with a groin strain and Pogba race through, although his shot went narrowly wide.
Knight's departure from the field meant there were no natural centre backs in Bolton's squad, pushing fullbacks Sam Ricketts and Marcos Alonso into the centre, with young Joe Riley on the left and Tyrone Mears on the right. The club hasn't explained the absence of Tim Ream and Matt Mills from the squad, but they were presumably injured in training, hopefully these are minor injuries.
Bolton pressure soon paid off as a Crewe defender was deemed to have handled inside the box off a Chung Yong Lee corner. Martin Petrov stepped up to take the ensuing penalty, and converted it without a problem. Petrov continued to pile pressure on Crewe goalkeeper, Alan Martin, but was unable to score again. Crewe fans will consider themselves unlucky not to have gotten a penalty of their own when Riley brought down A-Jay Leitch-Smith inside the Bolton box. The referee waved on, and the teams went into the break level.
Andy Lonergan came on for Adam Bogdan at half time, the only substitution Coyle made at that time. Mark Davies an Michael O'Halloran, who replaced Chung-Yong in the 58th minute, made some lively plays and tested Martin, but to no avail. The Wanderers were arguably the better side throughout much of the match, but failed to capitalise on the few reasonable chances they did make, and those were not easy to come by.
Bolton's thoroughly uninspiring preseason is not cause for alarm just yet though. As resident Welsh heartthrob Ricketts pointed out in the Bolton News, "If we'd gone [to Scotland] and won 5-0, we would have had nothing to work on... The last couple of years we've just been trying to survive in the Premier League, this is a different kind of feeling we're trying to achieve." That's the attitude the squad needs to emulate, and the fans need to keep that in mind.