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Defying the odds in times of uncertainty

A young Wanderers side left everything on the pitch on Saturday

Bolton Wanderers v Coventry City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

For the wider football community, Thursday was ‘Deadline Day’. The final chance for Premier League & Championship sides to bolster their sqauds ahead of the season. Whilst eyes were focused on Romelu Lukaku’s move to Inter & Tottenham Hotspur’s attempts to sign Paulo Dybala from Juventus, the never ending story of Bolton Wanderers’ takeover took another unbelievable turn.

Laurence Bassini was awarded a court order preventing the sale of the club to Football Ventures, much to the digust of everyone associated with Bolton, especially as the deal was seemingly on the ‘brink of completion’.

Despite his actions bringing a degree of uncertainty to Wanderers’ future, it didn’t deter fans from purchasing tickets for the opening home game against Coventry City. With just a day to purchase, over 7000 home tickets were sold, a tremendous achievement demonstrating the unwavering love the people of Bolton have for their club.

News emerged on Friday night that Wanderers’ team was likely to be significantly younger than the side that played so valiantly at Adams Park last week. The few seniors on the books ruled themselves out for selection, leaving a squad comprising of U23s and scholars to take on Coventry.

The starting XI had an average age of 19, the youngest side in the history of Bolton Wanderers & quite possibly English football.

Handed an opportunity in these extreme circumstances, the young Whites’ determination & drive more than made up for their lack of professional gametime.

Heroes emerged as the youngsters defied the odds to claim a priceless draw.

Once again, I’ve left a Bolton Wanderers game with an overwhelming sense of pride, having watched a team giving their all for the club.

On another day, Callum King-Harmes’ (his name is a pub) effort isn’t saved and flies into the corner, though it wasn’t to be.

The fact that Wanderers drew is testament to the terrific work Nicky Spooner & Gavin McCann have done with the academy. Credit also has to go to Ben Williams. Despite being out of contract & upaid, Williams turned up to ensure the academy goalkeepers were fully prepared for the game. At just 17, Matthew Alexander worked brilliantly & was rewarded with a clean sheet.

It goes without saying, but David Lee & Jimmy Phillips have also done stellar work with the U23s.

Edwards & Zouma have formed a formidable partnership at the back, whilst Politic & Darcy have the potential to be mainstays in the first team.

The captain for the game was Harry Brockbank, who became the second youngest Bolton captain of this century. Brockbank was one of the players who found himself out of contract at the end of last season. Rumours circled throughout the Summer that he had serveral offers from other clubs & could have moved on easily. However, clearly determined to remain at his hometown club, Brockbank bided his time for a new contract & was rewarded with the chance to lead out the side yesterday.

As fans, all you want to see is players who are proud to represent the club. It was clearly evident that every single player wanted to be out there.

Yesterday also reaffirmed the respect I have for Phil Parkinson. Though it’s clear to see why many fans disagree with his tactical decisions, he has handled the whole off field situation with a astounding level of professionalism. His post match comments on Bassini & the takeover echo those of an anxious fanbase. Everyone just wants to finally see a conclusion to the takeover saga so the club can finally begin to re-build.

When people look back at the game against Coventry in the years to come, it will be remembered as a significant moment in Bolton Wanderers’ long history. It will forever be remembered as the day the youngest ever Bolton side stepped up to defy the odds.

Hopefully, many of these players will continue to play a role in the years to come.