On Tuesday night, Bolton Wanderers' pre-season campaign continued at the coast against National League North champions AFC Fylde. The game was relatively non-eventful with the final score being 0-0, despite Bolton having the ball in the net twice.
Parkinson fielded two strong teams either side of the break in different formations allowing each player who travelled some game time including back up Jack Earing who also featured due to an unfortunate injury to Jem Karacan in the second half who's time on the sidelines is yet unknown. Mark Howard started in goal, Little and Chris Taylor wing backs, Beevers, Wheater and Brockbank were the back three, skipper Pratley, Perry and King in midfield with Alf and Madine up top.
Wanderers started the game lively, Madine's early shot came close yet also ended up in the car park whilst Le Fondre found himself one on one with the 'keeper and was brought down, yet judged to have been relived of the ball cleanly by the Fylde number 1. Youngsters Jeff King and Brockbank also impressed as they had previously in Scotland and at Chorley who respectively performed impressively going forward and remaining solid at the back for the first 45 minutes.
Despite having failed to score in the game, Wanderers were by far on top and played some excellent one touch football which lead to a tikki-takka passage of play featuring one two's between Madine and Taylor but the striker was unable to reach the final pass. Whilst Wanderers impressed going forward, the defenders and Howard were all tested at points including a scare towards the end of the half which Howard was forced to smartly get down to, following a deflection off Beevers.
Fylde very nearly took the lead on the brink of half time, a corner half-heartedly cleared was met by a waiting Fylde defender on the edge of the box who's rifled shot was again blocked, this time by Madine, who's touch on the shot very nearly took the ball beyond Howard who had been wrong footed by the deflection. Thankfully, the whilst went with the scores tied with wholesale changes expected at the break.
As anticipated, Parky made eleven changes to the team which now saw Alnwick between the sticks, Darby and Andy Taylor wing backs, Derik, Dervite and trialist Alex Bruce made up the central back three. Karacan, Vela and Buckley were the middle men whilst a strike partnership of Ameobi and debut Armstrong completed the side for the second half.
The first fifteen minutes of the second period of 45 saw Fylde hardly touch the ball as jeers rang around the away terrace after each completed pass. New boys Ameobi and Armstrong particularly impressed, Ameobi comfortable on the ball and had no trouble retaining possession under pressure whilst Armstrong's movement off the ball, classy first touch and pace really boosted Wanderers attacking threat, definitely one to keep an eye on this season.
Parkinson handed the armband to Josh Vela for the second half, presumably by default in terms of experience and game time, but vocally appeared to be a natural decision and looked like an experienced captain in the middle. Vela's overall second half was impressive, a typical engine room role who was making it all happen and nearly lead to an early goal as a one two with Sammy Ameobi saw Wanderers have one of the first shots on goal, but was comfortably held by the keeper despite the shot having some considerable power behind it.
As the half wore on, a lively Fylde side began to grow in confidence, particularly their number 7, Hardy, who turned our defence inside out on numerous occasions and nearly scored a brilliant goal after a wonderful solo run which was followed by a shout from the away terrace of "Parky! Sign him up! Parky, Parky, sign him up!".
Despite a growing threat from the home side, Wanderers caught Fylde on the break and attacked at pace thanks to a lively strike force which soon became a front three as Will Buckley bag to play further forward, all of whom linked up brilliantly which eventually saw Ameobi in behind the defence who unselfishly squared the ball to Armstrong who converted but cruelly ruled out as Ameobi was adjudged to be in an offside position before the goal.
With a Wanderers goal coming ever closer, Fylde became extremely defensive which saw Wanderers run the show for the last ten minutes which saw attack after attack, each one eventually denied by a defensive block or a smart save from former Wanderers man Jay Lynch. Following a couple of big blocks from Fylde, one which had clearly followed through saw Bolton dealt a blow as midfielder Jem Karacan limped off after a 50/50 challenge, he was replaced by Jack Earing.
As the game came to a close, Wanderers came ever closer to a winner, Will Buckley coming closest with a cheeky chip which narrowly spun over the bar which was soon followed by another powerful close range shot from Armstrong, again well saved by Lynch. Following this, Wanderers looked to be content with a draw which saw Fylde very nearly undeservedly knick it at the death as a long range effort rattled off the post which had well beaten Alnwick who was rooted to the spot, a let off for Wanderers.
Full time and Wanderers were left frustrated by the result, unable to get a goal and unable to carry on the winning streak. Fylde had done very well to hold out and had very nearly won it but thankfully hadn't. A huge sigh of relief was the immediate reaction for most Wanderers fans who had seen the home side dominated by Bolton and then very nearly shocked following a brief loss of concentration, something which I'm sure Parky would've had something to say about in the dressing room after the game.
All in all, not bad, but the win would've been the deserved and ideal result really for Wanderers. Hopefully we'll be able to get back to winning ways again on Saturday just down the road at league one promotion rivals Fleetwood Town. That should be an interesting one, so stay tuned for that.
Wanderers: Howard (Alnwick), Little (Darby), Wheater (Derik), Brockbank (Dervite), Beevers (Trialist/Bruce), C.Taylor (A.Taylor), King (Buckley), Perry (Vela), Pratley (Karacan/Earing), Madine (Ameobi), Le Fondre (Armstrong)
Fylde: Taylor (Lynch), Ezewele (Muldoon), Angol, Morgan (Tasdemir), Tunnicliffe, Trialist (Bradley), Hardy, Bond (Finley), Rowe (Montrose), Trialist, Jones (Langley)