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Match Report: Morecambe 2-1 Bolton Wanderers

Guest writer, Joe Norris, gives us the low down on another pre-season defeat for the Whites.

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Well, that was... less than encouraging. A poor result preceded by a poor performance and it's now three defeats out of three for the Whites in pre-season. Of course, it was only a friendly, but it's hard not to draw some worrying conclusions from a performance so devoid of positives. It wasn't the kind of display that can be explained away by a lack of fitness or match sharpness, it was simply an almost total absence of quality.

As for the match itself; the less said about the opening 25 minutes, the better. Long balls launched in the general direction of Emile Heskey, Heskey flicking on to his non-existent strike partner, easy clearance for the Morecambe centre backs.

Repeat ad infinitum.

It was the footballing equivalent of banging your head against a brick wall and every bit as painful to watch.

After what seemed like an eternity, Danns and Dobbie began to come into the game a bit and we started playing something approaching decent football. This was rewarded after half an hour when an excellent ball over the top from Danns left Dobbie with all the time in the world to cooly slot past the Morecambe keeper to open the scoring. The 900 or so travelling fans finally had something to cheer about and the more optimistic/naïve among us began hoping we'd kick on for a comfortable win.

But it wasn't to be. Within ten minutes, Morecambe scored one of the softest goals you'll ever see to draw level. A simple run to the byline resulted in a cut back to the completely unmarked Aaron Wildig, who tapped home from close range. Once the game restarted, there was still enough time for Captain Pratley to shank two perfectly presentable chances over the bar, when he really should have done better, before the sides trudged off for the half time break.

After 15 minutes shivering on the terraces (summer in Morecambe, eh?), we hoped for a much improved second half performance. What we got was nothing short of shambolic. Right from the whistle, Morecambe tore us apart down our left wing and looked like scoring every time they won possession. The goal, when it came, was pure farce.

New boy, Derik Osede, received the ball on the edge of the area before under-hitting the simplest of backpasses straight to the Morecambe striker, who was only too happy to accept the gift and stroke the ball past the helpless Amos. I know it's early days, but this was not the kind of performance one expects from a Real Madrid academy graduate.

Constantly caught out of position, he struggled to find a white shirt when in possession and the comedy assist for Morecambe's second was the icing on the inept cake. He was mercifully withdrawn after 70 minutes and I can only hope this display doesn't do too much to shatter his confidence.

The rest of the game was a non-event after a slew of changes from both sides completely broke up the rhythm of an already dire game. Bolton did, at least, look a bit more solid after the additions of Quade Taylor, Filip Twardzik and triallist Lawrie Wilson in defence and even managed to get the ball in the net at one point, although Dobbie's strike was ruled out for offside. Friend of the site Liam Feeney came off the bench and was his usual unproductive self, his only contribution of note being a shot so far over the bar that it cleared the roof of the stand.

The only thing to really stand out in the final 20 minutes of the game was the apparent lack of effort on behalf of the Bolton players. Again, I know it's only a pre-season friendly, but we were losing to a bunch of League Two also-rans and it would have been nice to see a bit of pride from the players.

Instead, they played like they were defending a 2-1 lead rather than like a side that needed a goal. They were, at least, successful in valiantly clinging on for a 2-1 defeat as that is indeed how it finished, to a resigned groan from the fans gathered behind the goal.

The Sturm Graz and Paderborn results were (understandably) explained away by them being decent sides who were far further on in their pre-season preparation than we were, but there can be no such excuses tonight. We were well beaten by a League Two team and looked desperately short of quality and cutting edge without the injured Zach Clough and the unused sub Mark Davies.

Am I being overly negative? Quite possibly, although it's hard to be anything but after watching 90 minutes of dross.

A good win against Oldham on Tuesday night would do much to dispel the gloom but, without significant improvement, I worry for us in the season ahead.

You can follow Joe on Twitter @JNorrisBWFC