ENTERTAINMENT on the pitch, controversy off it… this is starting to feel a lot more like Wanderers of old.

No-one gets an easy ride at the Macron these days, not least the referee, who came in for stick from both dugouts after a tempestuous 90 minutes fought in a traditional Bolton downpour.

Quite how the Whites did not bury Southend after Keshi Anderson had hauled them back on level terms immediately after half time is anyone’s guess.

They huffed and they puffed but Phil Brown pulled a stubborn point right out of the Sam Allardyce playbook and will be justifiably proud his young side held on.

Three of the five deadline-day signings made an appearance in Phil Parkinson’s team who, on this evidence, are going to be a pleasure to watch this season.

Some of the approach play was worthy of a team with promotion aspirations, even if the jury is still out on their finishing.

Back in the Premier League era the verbal jousting between the managers after the final whistle was often as enjoyable as the football that went before it.

Big Sam was everywhere in the Macron thanks to the hundreds of free copies of The Bolton News’ special pull-out distributed before the game and the England boss would certainly have had a good chuckle as Parkinson and Brown went toe-to-toe in the technical area.

Tyne and Wear official Seb Stocksbridge must have made a quick exit after the final whistle with both managers baying for blood.

Parkinson protested that Wanderers should have had two first-half penalties for fouls on Gary Madine and Mark Beevers, while Brown was sent to the stands for the last 10 minutes after losing his rag with the fourth official over what he felt was “preferential treatment” given to the home side in the second half.

Both men carried their frustration into the after-match press conferences, ensuring the drama continued well after the fans had filed out into the evening rain.

Parkinson, whose post-match comments rarely stray from the calm and considered, was fuming that for the second week running he had watched legitimate penalty calls waved away.

“I just wonder whether referees have got a problem with giving us penalties because I’ve just looked at a couple of them quickly and how Gary Madine didn’t get one I haven’t a clue,” he said.

“It was the same last week at Charlton but, at home, you would expect to get those decisions.

“The referee has got to be brave and give them. Whether he’s coming to the Macron Stadium and thinking he won’t be influenced by a bigger-than-average crowd at this level, I don’t know.

“We didn’t make that big a thing of it at Charlton but (Mark) Beevers was getting grappled at every corner, I lost count of the number of times.”

Brown was equally hacked off after watching the last 10 minutes of the game from the directors’ box.

The Southend boss claims Parkinson approached the referee at half time to make his point about the penalties, after which referee Stocksbridge – in his estimation – gave more decisions the way of the home team.

“At half time Phil (Parkinson) was standing there in the away corridor and I thought ‘that’s interesting, let’s hear what he has to complain about’” Brown


“He complained on three or four fronts but said they should have had three penalties in the first half. I was like ‘where?’.

“I know the rules are a little bit black and white at the moment but it’s lashing down with rain, bodies are going down all over the place. Who can make that shout?

“It felt as if it was one rule for one, and one for another.

“I knew I was up against it budget-wise and if you recall the days when I was assistant to Sam Allardyce we were always up against it in the Premier League.

“That’s life, you close ranks. We were given a raw deal, I think.”

Wanderers’ full-backs Dean Moxey and Lewis Buxton got caught cold early on, leading to teenager Harry Kyprianou volleying home John White’s cross just three minutes in. From there it was one-way traffic as the Whites laid siege to Ted Smith’s goal.

Anderson deflected a goal-bound header from David Wheater on the line, allowing White to hack the ball away, and Liam Trotter had a header pushed aside which Beevers inexplicably failed to turn in to the open net.

Ref Stocksbridge also refused to crack down on some WWE-style grappling at set pieces from Adam Barrett and Anton Ferdinand. Presumably he was on holiday over the summer when officials were told to crack down on pushing and pulling in the penalty box.

Wanderers had to bide their time but an equaliser was barely in doubt and arrived a few minutes after the break. Lewis Buxton’s cross was headed up in the air by King and as Anderson challenged keeper Smith, the ball dribbled embarrassingly out of his grasp and into the net.

Anyone would have put money on the Whites winning from there – but the second goal remained frustratingly out of reach.

Jay Spearing had a free-kick tipped over the bar, sub Andy Taylor chipped a volley just wide of the post and Ryan Leonard hooked a near-post flick from Beevers from under his own crossbar after keeper Smith went missing once again.

Sammy Ameobi came on for the last 15 minutes to give an exciting cameo but Wanderers failed to find the killer goal and nearly shot themselves in the foot when Richard Mooney ran though on to a bad back-pass from Wheater only for Mark Howard to fly off his line and blast the ball away.

Brown was sent from the touchline after berating the fourth official with about five minutes of normal time to go, and that theatre continued well into the evening.