With the 2013/14 Championship season underway as of the weekend, the cup season has also approached Bolton Wanderers quickly. The Trotters were drawn against Shrewsbury Town over the summer and will now have to contend with other high-quality matches like Bury v. Crewe Alexandra, Tranmere Rovers v. Mansfield Town, Morecambe v. Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Port Vale v. Walsall. Bolton have had a busy recent history with Shrews, having played each other just two weeks ago in addition to last year's Tom Eaves loan and this year's planned Joe Riley move.
As far as pre-season matches go, Wanderers' last meeting with Shrews was about as exciting as they get. The match would feature a pair of excellent Mavin Sordell goals (lot of good that does us now) and a pair of brilliant Shrewsbury Town goals in what would ultimately end as a 3-3 draw. That match perhaps foreshadowed Bolton's defensive issues that were on show at the weekend against Burnley but apart from that, it was difficult to really get any meaningful information.
Dougie Freedman has some decisions to make ahead of the cup clash in terms of the team that will trot out at Greenhous Meadow. More time together could well be a good thing for this Bolton side in terms of learning how to play together in match situations, especially for a defense that already looked shaky. On top of that, it could be an opportunity for the likes of Jermaine Beckford and Keith Andrews to build some confidence and, hopefully, start a run of good form.
On the other hand, the match at Shrewsbury Town could be the chance for Dougie Freedman to give some young and fringe players a competitive look outside the Championship season. New boy Andre Moritz could have a chance to shine in the center of the park, as could Rob Hall out wide. Freedman has also talked up the likes of Chris Lester and Sanmi Odelusi on a number of occasions with the former still waiting for a professional debut and the latter looking for a real opportunity outside the nine minutes he saw at Charlton last season. The defense could see Matt Mills or Tim Ream with Tyrone Mears out back and Freedman could stick Tom Eaves up front. Having a striker who has played at Shrews and been comfortable there could be positive.
Either way, Shrewsbury town have shown that they're up for a fight and won't be happy to take a beating. In that 3-3 draw just a few weeks ago, Salop came back from 3-1 down to level matters in time for the final whistle. Both teams are coming off weekend draws with Shrews having been held at home by MK Dons. Following that match, manager Graham Turner seemed a bit down on his side but looked at the positives:
"I thought there was a lack of confidence and lack of real belief in the first-half. We built our pre-season up on passing the ball and good movement, but I thought that was lacking.
"Second-half I thought we did a lot better and showed that bit of urgency and control and there was some interesting
"The encouraging part about it is that we can get better, that's the pleasing thing. It's always difficult in the first game. As a manager you never quite know what your best side is and whether they've worked hard enough in pre-season and it's not until you get two or three games into the season that you start to get a measure of yourselves and fitness and so on.
Turner was also hopeful of his team's chances against Wanderers:
"I watched them [Bolton] on the television this morning, they're a good side and they've got some good players.
"It depends on what sort of side Dougie sends over, but it's got the makings of a good contest and we suddenly have all the pressure lifted off us, so we can go and show what we can do.
"We had a good game against them pre-season and we've got to repeat that sort of performance."