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Five Things: Arbroath 1-2 Bolton Wanderers

Can we learn anything from a pre-season friendly against some semi-professionals? 

MK Dons v Sheffield Wednesday - npower League 1 Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Our man Joe, banished to the Highlands for crimes so unspeakable that it would make your head fall off to even contemplate them made the short hop to watch Wanderers against Arbroath - and these are his conclusions:


This game gave us a chance to allow some of the youth players a run out, and gave our travelling supporters the chance to see them in action.

There were some encouraging performances, particularly from Jack Earing and from new signing Connor Hall, who came through the Sheffield United academy but obviously saw his future at a bigger club.

Earing in particular looked ready for some first-team action, and Hall will provide pace and direct running, you could imagine him being a valuable option from the bench this season.

Trying times?

I do hope that Swiss trialist Haris Tabakovic isn't an indication of the standard of player that we are looking to sign this summer.

Depth is definitely needed up front, but I hope we are in the market for a better standard of player than this. He looked like the archetypal second division target man – think Brett Angel, but without the goals.

One of the slowest players I've seen in a long while, I'd go so far as to say that he'd be in danger of losing a race against Ian Marshall, back in the days when he was playing at centre back for us.

Seemed to have a decent enough touch, but couldn't keep up with play. I hope we can find a better standard of striker out there.


Who is going to start the season as first choice keeper? It would seem likely to be one of the 2 featured against Arbroath – Mark Howard or Ben Alnwick. Neither looked particularly convincing or staked a claim on the shirt.

A bit worrying – I think it's a shame that Ben Amos is on such big money, as he's probably a bit better than either of these, but surely he will be shipped out if we can find someone to take on his wages. Jake Turner, anyone?

Will Bolton Wanderers actually miss Jay Spearing?

I'm not sure we will. He played well last season, and clearly added some leadership to the team.

Jem Karacan looked like a good replacement in the time he was on the pitch, displaying his own leadership and organisation, and it seems to me that all is not lost if we are unable to sign a Spearing replacement.

Jack Earing also looked capable, although of course this was just a friendly against a semi-pro Scotch team, and it remains to be seen whether he can make the step up to Championship football.


Changing the entire team at the 60 minute mark paradoxically provided evidence that teams benefit from consistency and familiarity.

The team that finished the match bore a much greater resemblance to the first team that finished the season, and it showed. You could tell that most of the players knew where each other would be and what to expect from each other.

Their performance was more fluid, and you could see examples of where understandings have built up – the telepathic understanding between Wheater and Beevers being one example.

So, I wouldn't be too disheartened if our starting line-up against Leeds is mainly made up of our team from last season, as this consistency should stand us in good stead.

Anyway, it is hard to imagine it being any other way at present, as we are still under a transfer embargo and it doesn't look like we'll be able to offer the big bucks to attract any kind of talent any time soon.