Bolton kicked off their season with a loss, dragging expectations back down to realistic levels. Whilst there were plenty of positives to take from our 2-1 loss to Bradford City, there was also a lot to work on. The defence lacked shape and positional discipline and at the other end of the pitch our strikers dropped too deep rendering them ineffective. Ian Evatt has immediately seized on these issues and was vocal about rectifying them, going as far as to have a meeting with the defenders in question to underscore what’s expected. His team gets a chance to right those wrongs just 3 days later at home against League One, Crewe Alexandra.
Kick off will be at 19:00 at an empty University of Bolton Stadium. Being the EFL Trophy Bolton will not be able to make sweeping changes as 4 of the players from our previous game must also play this game (although there are ways this can be circumvented).
Given the issues we saw with the back 5 on Saturday it is possible Evatt will want them to have more game time together before the league begins on Saturday. There is however fierce competition for places at the back with Jack Hickman impressing in pre-season and new boy, Jamie Mascoll needing game time. In the centre, there will be questions as to Alex Baptiste, aged 34, will be able to complete two games in quick succession after an extended period without playing. It is likely we will see goalkeeper, Billy Crellin retain his spot although Ian Evatt has publicly praised 2nd choice, Matthew Alexander and the progress he has made over pre-season. Reiss Greenidge remains injured.
In the middle of the park we can expect to see Ali Crawford start having been bench in the last game. All eyes will be on whether Ronan Darcy and whether he starts after Ian Evatt publicly laid down the gauntlet for the youngster (and all youngsters who played regularly last season) to: ‘...earn his place like any other player’. New boy, Andrew Tutte could also feature.
At the top end of the park we could another new signing, Shaun Miller make his first start after signing on Saturday. New academy starlet, Bright Amoateng, made the bench on Saturday and could make a start at the age of 17. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of Nathan Delfouneso or Eoin Doyle retain their place however. Muhammadu Faal and Dennis Politic remain absent through injury.
Crewe will remain on a high having been promoted last season although they did suffer a 2-1 defeat against Lincoln City in the Carabao Cup. It is widely expected, like us, that they will be rotating their starting line up from that game. We could face former Wanderers midfielder, Luke Murphy, whom signed for the club in the summer. Unfortunately we wont play against former academy prospect and son of legend, Will Jaaskelainen, as he is away on international duty.
Given that it’s early on in the season and both teams lost their opening games in the Carabao Cup it makes it very hard to predict. I think we could see a draw today. 2-2. After that, anyone’s guess.