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Trialist Report: Stafford Rangers 1-2 Bolton Wanderers XI

Matt had nowt better to do than mooch to a pre-season reserve friendly, and here are his thoughts for your enjoyment, delight and information

Dave Thompson/Getty Images

Don't ask me why or how but I found myself at a non-league ground in Stafford watching Bolton Wanderers' Under 21s team.


As it happens it wasn't too bad an evening of football, before I start I just want to point out that Stafford Rangers aren't the ideal opponent to properly judge a player's ability but they are by no means a bad side, strong, pace on the wings, big target man everything you expect for this level.

They play at a relatively good lower league ground, the pitch was perfect, the evening was a great one for football and they competed extremely well.

On to the game, the starting 11 featured some youth team regulars such as Newell, Spooner, Samizadeh and young Jaaskelainen and also four new trialists all looking to earn contracts or at least time with the first team squad.

Including the much talked about Josef Shirdel, who started this game in the left midfield position of a standard 4-4-2.

With interest high in some of these new faces and intrigue into what they may be able to offer I thought it'd be useful to breakdown the performances of the aspiring Wanderers -

Gerald Kilota

A sharp, quick footed, winger with a drive to run with the ball.

He looked lost first half out on the right wing, he appeared to be left footed and was struggling to control the ball out wide and was trying a little bit too hard when he finally got a few touches.

But he grew into the game slightly, I believe he won our penalty with a run into the centre avoiding a few challenges before being tripped just inside the box, had more of an impact in the second half when moved to what appeared to be his favoured left side.

Linked well in spells with Samizadeh and Ribeiro but overall had a poor first touch and his defensive workrate exposed his fullback on both wings.

Very raw little player but I don't expect to see much more from him to earn a permanent deal.

Ruben Ribeiro

A short but solid left back, nothing fancy or too exciting but perfectly capable defensively.

Early on in the game he had me worried, caught out by a couple long balls to the corner and finding his positioning in relation to the centre back leaving spaces for runners, but as the game progressed he settled and started commanding his role.

Seemed to struggle with the language barrier which is understandable and was most evident with a miscommunication between himself and Jaaskelainen when he toe-poked the ball past the outrushing keeper for a corner when told to leave it.

Overall he looked dependable and given time I think he could make a perfectly capable backup full back but wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't kept around.

Agostinho Ca

A busy, tough tackling, hardworking, defensive midfielder.

I was quite impressed with the former Barcelona man, he looked to impose himself on the game early and he did just that, threw himself into challenges, made simple passes and had a leap on him which is useful for a guy of his height at just 5'7".

He reminded me a lot of Medo Kamara which to some might not sound like good news but I thought he was useful when he could be arsed and wasn't thinking he was Essien.

Ca seemed to know his role and his limitations and stuck to them well, but does appear to lack passing range and sometimes his awareness on the ball was suspect. Will we see him again?

Maybe, he's young and could be useful but we have options in his position but I'd like to at least get a couple more games with the U21s.

For the record, of the trialists on show, he was the best of them and came a close second in my completely unofficial Man of the Match.

Josef Shirdel

A tall, quick footed, smooth dribbling wide midfielder.

Early on Shirdel had some wonderfully skilful first touches and ghosted past his man and drew two or three fouls in the first 10 minutes, he definitely seemed to have a bit about him and wasn't afraid to track his full back when needed.

He started on the left which surprised me having seen some clips of his crossing ability from the right, but with our striking options available being somewhat limited in the aerial department it makes sense.

So for much of the game when in possession he found himself quite central looking to pick up the ball behind the front men and look to make things happen, unfortunately nothing quite did, he tired fairly quickly but covered a good amount of ground before being subbed after 70ish minutes.

From the limited glimpses I saw of his ability on the ball I would really like to see him get time with the first-team in their next fixture, he seemed proactive in possession and positive, always wanting to beat his man and look forwards but little of it quite paying off.

He also didn't take any corners that I could tell, which was a bit surprising and disappointing, but did have one free-kick that came to nothing.