This afternoon, Bolton Wanderers played their first game of pre season against non-league locals Chorley.
Phil Parkinson fielded two separate XI’s for the fixture, both of which a mix of senior and youth players. First team regulars Ben Alnwick, David Wheater, Dorian Dervite, Jem Karacan, Adam Le Fondre and Gary Madine all started the game, whilst youngsters Cole Lonsdale, Alex Perry and Jeff King all took their place in the lineup along side new signings Will Buckley and Mark Little.
As anticipated, the pace of the game was relatively slow to begin with catching Wanderers off guard leading to an early Chorley opener courtesy of Terry Gornall after Cole Lonsdale failed to clear his lines. Following this wake-up call, Wanderers began to attack and look more lively. A couple of chances fell for Adam Le Fondre, who had been newly assigned the number 9 shirt, neither of which he could capitalise on, and a teasing cross proving too much for a determined Alex Perry meant that the rejuvenated Wanderers attacks proved to no avail.
Soon after, Chorley doubled their lead through a brilliant solo effort from Marcus Carver who left David Wheater well and truly beaten before slotting home. The curse of the blue away shirt looked to be taking its toll once more. The goal saw yet more improvements from Wanderers and the way in which we ended the half was encouraging, particularly courtesy of some neat link up play down the right between Little and Buckley giving the second half some promise and something to look forward to for Wanderers fans.
Just before half time came though, a heavy challenge from Chorley skipper Andy Teague on Jeff King was followed up by a unnecessary tussle between the pair created solely by the Chorley man meant the hosts were rescinded to ten men just before the half was out.
As promised by the management team, eleven changes were made at the break which saw Mark Howard take Alnwick’s place between the posts, new signing Stephen Darby coming in at right back replacing Little, Beevers replaced Wheater, Andy Taylor came in for Lonsdale and Chris Taylor replaced Buckley whilst Josh Vela and Darren Pratley were both given centre midfiled spots respectively. Youngsters Ryan White and Connor Hall also both started the second half and an appearance from trialist Haris Tabakovic saw him lead from the front for the second period of forty five minutes.
After another slow start, fifteen minutes into the second half, youngster Harry Brockbank rose to head home Beevers’ flick on from a Chris Taylor free-kick putting Bolton back in with a chance.
Throughout the second half, Brockbank and Ryan White both showed huge potential with their respective pace and composure on the ball causing problems for ten man Chorley. Less than ten minutes later, a quick-footed White swivelled excellently in the area before smashing the ball into the roof of the net to get the equaliser for Wanderers.
Wanderers now galvanised by their improved performances in the second half pushed on for a winner and soon enough, it came. On the 75th minute mark, a goal mouth scramble which had resulted from another Chris Taylor teasing free kick lead to centre back Brockbank doubling his tally for the afternoon, firing the ball into the bottom corner to put Wanderers ahead.
Despite the hosts making changes throughout the second half, Parkinson stuck with the second set of eleven that he had sent out at half time which seemed to be the right choice as the younger team continued to cause headaches for the Chorley defence which saw White nearly get a second as his effort trickled out off the post.
Full time, and Bolton had pulled off a brilliant comeback courtesy of two extremely promising youngsters who could really come in handy for the coming season and hope to see them given game time whenever possible. Whilst the senior players showed their experience, the inability to put the ball in the net and win the game was ultimately down to the younger lads, hats off to you boys!
Next up, our pre season tour to Scotland with fixtures including trips to Arbroath and Dundee, stay tuned for those.