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Match Report: Bolton Wanderers 1-0 Sheffield United

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We won and we didn't concede a goal. Rejoice.

The boy Baevers had an impressive Bolton debut
The boy Baevers had an impressive Bolton debut
Pete Norton/Getty Images

17 and a half hours after leaving home in East London I finally just arrived back where I started via Bolton, a pastie shope and a trip to see the Grandma. And now, with a fantasy football draft occupying my Sunday, it's time to crack on and review the miracle that unfurled before my very own eyes this afternoon - Bolton Wanderers winning an actual competitive football match.

The first thing that stands out after this long, long day is thathe Mark Beevers, ahem Baevers, as Jonny eloquently renamed him yesterday, had a cracking debut.

Baevers' very first touch in a Bolton shirt was an interception of a long Sheffield United ball down field. Did he take a touch, look for a fancy and ridiculous pass, or take a risk? Did he hell. He put his massive left boot through it and it tanked it out of play and miles away from danger. Baevers had an excellent debut alongside the returning David Wheater, and he's exactly what we've been missing at the centre of defence for years and years. He's also about 12 foot 2, and makes Wheater look small.

Anyway, back to reviewing the match...

When Phil Parkinson's first selection was announced it's safe to say I wasn't enthused. Lawrie Wilson right wing? No Mark Davies? Both Zach Clough and Max Clayton missing? It was a very defensive setup that suggested he was setting out not to lose - take a 0-0, and if we get lucky and grab a goal then brilliant, but at all odds do not lose. And that's exactly how it worked out.

Five (technically) new signings started the season opener, with Lewis Buxton - who signed only yesterday - at right-back, the boy Baevers alongside new old boy Wheater in front of new goalkeeper Mark Howard, and Chris Taylor on the left wing, with Lawrie Wilson very dubiously selected on the opposite 'wing.'

The early stages of the game had me wondering what on earth Parkinson was playing at. Wilson looked utterly clueless in midfield, Darren Pratley had committed at least three hospital passes, and Sheffield were getting crosses into the box at will, with neither full-back seemingly capable nor willing to stop them.

One of these said crosses should have resulted in the opener for the visitors, but Leon Clarke somehow contrived to head wide from close range with the goal gaping. The former Bury striker again went close as he came within inches of latching onto a cross from Mark Duffy, who I'd not actually heard of but was lively and dangerous down the right wing. Then a third opportunity came as Duffy again delivered from the right, having utterly flummoxed the hapless Dean Moxey who still hasn't learned to defend, and the cross completely missed everyone in the box.

The visitors were certainly the more lively in early stages, but the game soon descended into nothingness until a moment of brilliance got the home fans out of their seats. The now famous Lawrie Wilson long throw - I'm fairly convinced this particular skill is the only reason Parkinson selected him - caused havoc in the Sheffield defence and was only cleared as far as Spearing, who brilliantly smashed it home first time off the post. To see it for yourself, see the video below via our man Eddie (and Sky Sports News).

Wanderers held on until half-time, relatively untested, with Spearing and Josh Vela both notching themselves a first yellow card of the season.

The visitors began the second half on top, with Clarke missing another chance, then being denied the chance to race onto a long ball by the alert Howard, and Billy Sharp - who loves a dive - finding the net about five minutes after the linesman had flagged a clear offside.

Then Bolton enjoyed their only real spell of dominance and attacking play of the match, as they conjured up a series of decent chances. This coincided with the introduction of Davies, in place of the very quiet Taylor, who instantly saw a shot blocked after good build-up play between Spearing and Gary Madine.

Minutes later Madine went for goal himself, with an outrageous 40-yard effort that went a few feet wide but showed the big striker has a bit of confidence. Madine actually did well, despite being starved of any remnants of decent service and putting in a shift during a thankless task leading a front-line with zero support from midfield.

The wave continued as Bolton came close to doubling their lead. Another long throw - has Parkinson spent the summer watching Iceland? - this time from Dean Moxey was met superbly by the head of Pratley, and brought an excellent save from George Long.

The attacking switch saw Vela push further forward and working hard to pressurise the Sheffield defence high up the pitch, causing several mistakes. He almost got his reward as he got onto the end of a Madine backheel only to push a shot just wide of the far post.

New man Jamie Proctor replaced the knackered looking Madine, and Liam Trotter put in the finest example of Liam Trotter passing you'll see in place of Jay Spearing, before Pratley picked up an innocuous but serious looking injury to see Bolton reduced to ten men.

The eleven men pushed forward but couldn't find a way through despite swinging in countless crosses and appealing for all manner of non-existent fouls and handballs.

So a feel-good day for Wanderers and a first season opening win in five years, since a 4-0 hammering of Queens Park Rangers. It certainly wasn't a pretty performance, and there was no flowing football, but a win is a win and we'll take that every week.

However, it'll be interesting to see how Parkinson lines the side up when the likes of Clough and Clayton return to fitness, and whether Davies, Kaiyne Woolery and Tom Walker can fit into his tactics.