Bolton Wanderers were 2-0 winners in a preseason friendly against near-neighbors Rochdale on Tuesday night. Dougie Freedman chose a side heavy on senior players, as they presumably need to work their way up to 90 minutes soon.
Andy Lonergan, Matt Mills, Tim Ream, Jay Spearing, and Neil Danns all played the whole match. That is basically the spine of the team. The only unused substitutes among outfield players were Dorian Dervite and Cian Bolger. David Wheater was, once again, nowhere to be seen. Most of us suspected coming into the preseason that Mills and Ream would be the first choice pairing in the center of defense, and this is just another indication that Freedman sees things the same way.
Liam Feeney had a lively first half on the right flank, and he was only subbed in the 89th minute, a good indication that Freedman wants him ready to play on August 9th. That said, Neil Danns was the most impressive looking attacker early on, and it was he who got the goal. Danns has shown himself to be a good finisher, even from distance, and he made himself some space before letting fly about 23 minutes into the game. 1-0 to Bolton. Rob Hall also put th ball in the back of the net before halftime, but that was ruled out for offside.
The second half was a bit disjointed as several substitutes were made. Josh Vela played about 30 minutes, Craig Davies 25, but the sub of note was Conor Wilkinson. He came on for Medo Kamara in the 72nd minute, and scored a goal just a few minutes later. The young striker was able to hold off his man and fire into the bottom corner.
All in all, it was a solid performance on both sides of the pitch. There were a few defensive lapses (there always are), and some sloppy finishing (always a problem when Jermaine Beckford is your striker), but it a good sign with less than three weeks to go until the season starts.