Yesterday, Wadnerers travelled to New York (Stadium) and lost 2-1 away to Rotherham United. The Bolton players, clearly rusty in what was their first match of the preseason (compared to Rotherham's fifth), did not come out of it looking good. Marvin Sordell scored Bolton's lone goal following an excellent bit of work from Rob Hall but that was all undone when Daniel Nardiello split the two center backs at the death and slotted home the winner.
The squad, full of young, old, and new players, looked relatively abject in what was a meaningless affair meant to do nothing more than loosen the joints and sharpen the senses a bit. Well, most of the squad anyway.
A relative (keep that word in mind) bright spot in the Bolton ranks was Tim Ream, who was played out of position by manager Dougie Freedman. Ream, who is not exactly known for his strength or success in the center back position, was played at left back by the manager. With the exception of one (nearly costly) mistake, Ream looked calm and composed at the back and handled the pressure from Rotherham well. He was good on the ball as well, linking up with the wingers. Dan Murphy, who was at the match for Lion of Vienna Suite described one such play in his match report:
Bolton lost possession stupidly, in the middle of the park. The Ball found it's way to the impressive Pringle, who delivered another pinpoint cross, which found Revell at the back post, who directed a low header into the goal.
Bolton almost scored an instant reply as Ream's searching ball, over the top, fell perfectly for Lester. However, the youngster dragged his shot wide when he should have done better.
As we wrote in a piece on Wednesday, Dougie's relocation of Tim Ream could have potentially solved a pair of problems for Bolton. The Trotters are extremely short in depth in that position and Ream, who doesn't really fit in as a Championship or Premier League center back, is in limbo at the moment.
Following the Rotherham match, the Bolton News asked Ream about his play on the left:
"I played there quite a lot for my youth clubs and university sides so it's a position I know fairly well," admitted the defender. "But, if I'm honest, I haven't played there in four years so it's a little bit of an adjustment. I'm working on it day by day but I'm trying to pick up on things and, hopefully, I can stake my claim for a starting position.
"You want to play wherever you can best help the team. If the left-back spot is where I can help - either starting, or by pushing Marc (Tierney) to his fullest - then so be it."
Dougie Freedman added his thoughts as well:
"It's an experiment. I haven't signed as many players as I'd like to sign right now but I don't want to go out there and buy someone as a back-up left-back. Tim Ream is a centre-half, let's make that very clear. But if I can have a centre-half that can cover left-back then the chairman is happy because that saves him a bit of money.
"That's the reason I wanted Alex Baptiste because he's a centre-half who can equally play right-back. If Tim Ream can be left-back and centre-back, then that makes it easy."
Finally, Tim Ream, battling to be heard over a loud lawnmower behind him, spoke about the loss at Rotherham as a whole:
"It is not the result that we wanted but there are some positives to take away from the performance with it being our first pre-season game," said Bolton's number five.
"There are definitely aspects of our game we need to work on and it is one of those things where you need to balance whether to go to hard and hurt yourself or get the fitness levels just right.
"At the end of the day we want to win football matches but we will take the good with the bad and we will get back to the training ground and keep on working."