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Back to School Bolton

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Gareth's debut piece for LOV

Oldham Athletic V Bolton Wanderers- Sky Bet League One Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Next month many youngsters will make the big step from junior to secondary school. No longer will there be the safe and protective environment they have enjoyed in recent times. No longer will they be the big fishes in small ponds. No longer will they snatch the football from the young kids, throw down their jumpers as goalposts and play and score until their little hearts are content.

Day 1 will come quickly. New hairdos. Smarts uniforms. Mums and dads trying to steal a kiss and a photo as they leave the house, full of anticipation of what the big school will bring.

The reality of a new environment will soon hit them hard. A challenging environment. Bigger and better everywhere. Big boys just waiting to knock that swagger from you as quickly as you can say "Wheats does karaoke".

Sound familiar?

It's a timely comparison with the reality that has well and truly arrived for our beloved whites, or trotters, or Wanderers depending on your personal preference. Following the end to end extravaganza as served up at the Macron on Sunday, the half time interval was surely the time when fans realised the days of League 1 and the 'joys' that brought were in the distant past.

No more Northampton. Or Oxford. No more Wheats and Beavers scoring for fun. We are in with the big boys now and if anybody had any doubts then 3 first half goals from a clinical Leeds team will surely have resulted in the coffee maker alarm going off and the sweet smell of beans filling the air.

I enjoyed the match. I thought the boys did relatively well as a collective. Yes there the occasional look of 'Jesus this is a bigger playground than we are used to here'. The facts will tell you that our strengths last season were first and foremost based on stout and solid defending. Some may say we switched off when Leeds United were making the net bulge far too frequently for our liking.

I am not so sure it was as simple as switching off. Once I get. Twice would be unfortunate. But 3 times is a trend that I believe will be a feature of this season if we don't quickly realise that we are no longer protecting our goal from the front men of Coventry and Swindon. Readers, we were playing at home and conceded 3 times by the interval. In our first game. But no panic buttons yet! Ok?

A word on Gary Madine. Quite rightly took the plaudits. He led the frontline with courage and bravery. He simply did his job of being the traditional target man, taking the knocks and generally causing a little bit of mayhem when the opportunity arose. Our style won't change dramatically let's face it. Therefore having an in form and committed Madine will be key.

Do I agree with the style of play? Not one for today. Everyone can't play like the Dutch of the 70's. Time will tell if we will hold our own this season playing to our strengths or will we be left woefully behind in the footballing style and results stakes. Again, time will tell.

One thing is for certain. We need to quickly learn how to behave in our new school. Detention beckons if we don't get the basics right. I think we may surprise a few people. But those 3 goals came too easily and were a flashback to our previous tenure in this league. Which we all know ended in being expelled!!!

Up the Trotters.