Following previous defeats to Sturm Graz, SC Paderborn and Morecambe, Bolton Wanderers have won their first pre-season game of the season, 2-0 against League 1 Oldham Athletic.
Neil Lennon had said prior to kick off the 'strongest' side possible would start, and that was the case. There was no Zach Clough, Mark Davies, Oscar Threlkeld or Emile Heskey down to injuries. Josh Vela started his first game of the season, whilst trialists Stephen Dobbie and Lawrie Wilson were handed starts.
Bolton started with a 4-4-2 formation, with Dobbie playing behind a forward line of Gary Madine and Liam Feeney. Feeney wasted a couple of early chances, with shots going straight into the keeper's hands. Around 10 minutes into the game, Bolton were forced into an early change as Tom Walker went off injured, and was replaced by Neil Danns. Hopefully just a precautionary measure.
Gary Madine headed wide from a corner, then after a long ball forward from Derik, Liam Feeney put Wanderers ahead 22 minutes in with a thumping volley just inside the box. Bolton then had control of the game, coming close again when Madine failed to get enough on a cross from Dobbie.
Wanderers then extended their lead just before half time. Vela's shot was deflected to Dobbie, who's shot was poked home by Gary Madine.
The second half provided no goals, however Bolton came close to a third goal on a couple of occasions. Neil Danns shot wide from distance after wonderful build up play by Pratley and Dobbie. Dobbie then stung the hands of the Oldham kepper Coleman with a volley from distance, after a headed knockdown from Madine.
Kaiyne Woolery was given a ten minute cameo for first appearance with the first team this season.
After Friday's defeat to Morecambe, the performance was encouraging. Dobbie looks almost certain to get a contract after looking sharp in front of goal, as well as great build up play with Pratley. Lawrie Wilson for me, also looked strong. We've been without a proper right back for a while now, and Wilson could well fill the void. He can attack, defend, cross and he's cheap, which is the most important thing these days. It also mean's Vela is free to play in midfield, and he shone in a holding role.
The partnership of Dorian Dervite and Derik was also promising. A shaky display against Morecambe was quickly forgotten. Amos was only tested twice all game from distance, that due to the performance of the defence. With Wheater's injury record, it's encouraging to see Dervite and Derik getting better game by game. Long may it continue.
It's still only pre-season, but things are looking a little better.