THIS is only the beginning.

So boomed announcer Phil Heys’ Boltonian voice as the Squadron 633 theme tune welcomed Wanderers’ youngest-ever line-up onto the pitch for a game which should not have really mattered in the grand scheme of things.

There won’t have been many games in the group stages of the Leasing.Com Trophy where fans queued around the block to buy tickets, but that was the scene an hour before kick off. Indeed, the game had to be delayed for 10 minutes to allow a steady stream of fans into the stadium.

The £5 tickets would have helped – but if new owners or management team needed any proof of the passion that still exists within the town for its football club, they need only have listened to the crescendo of noise when Dennis Politic’s deflected shot found its way past Sam Hornby for the opening goal.

Keith Hill had explained his new signings were not yet ready to be plunged into action and that all focus was now on preparing for the trip to Rotherham United a week on Saturday.

That left a young team which has been guided through some choppy waters by Jimmy Phillips, Nicky Spooner and Gavin McCann, many still fresh from a 5-0 humbling at Gillingham at the weekend.

Bradford City may have been rubbing their hands; Yorkshire neighbours Doncaster Rovers shaking their heads in disbelief. But the first-half display alone shows why this is not the last we have seen of this young group of players.

They seized the lead slightly fortuitously as Politic’s lovely bit of skill on the edge of the box opened up space to score but a big deflection helped the ball spin past the Bradford keeper and off the inside of the post for the winger’s second cup goal of the campaign.

Some of the build-up play was a joy to behold, as was Callum King-Harmes’ tenacious battle against Clayton Donaldson, the former Bolton striker more than twice his age.

One move involving 20-plus passes ended with Ronan Darcy sweeping a shot narrowly wide and Politic – who was clearly in the mood to impress his new manager – bounced another left-footed effort narrowly wide.

The visitors started the day heavy favourites but, like Coventry before them, struggled to make their experience and physical advantage count for long periods early on. Jordan Gibson did strike the woodwork for Gary Bowyer’s side and Jordan Boon headed one off the line but their passing was fragmented and they failed to find a proper foothold until the second half.

Perhaps geed on by some stern words from the manager, there was a bit more purpose from the Yorkshiremen after the break and they hauled themselves level within a few minutes, Paudie O’Connor climbing high to head home Harry Pritchard’s corner.

They pressed hard after that, too – Pritchard bringing one fine save out of Alexander and then bouncing a shot off the inside of the post after a lovely bit of skill to beat Boon and Yoan Zouma.

Adam Senior made one stunning block to deny substitute, and former Bury man, Zeli Ismael, and Matt Alexander made another good save at his far post to prevent Connor Wood from volleying home in the latter stages.

O’Connor should have grabbed a winner a minute from time when he got a free header six yards out from a corner but steered his effort wide.

Debutant Jay Fitzmartin nearly stole the show with a late run and shot but with both sides granted a point – it fell to penalties.

Wanderers’ first three were converted by James Weir, Harry Brockbank and Darcy but when Boon hit the bar, it looked like curtains.

Alexander then came up with a great save from O’Connor – but Hornby then got his feet in the way of Senior’s penalty and the extra point was won.

There was a slight flare-up after the penalty when a comment was aimed at Senior as he stood crestfallen – and players from both sides waded in. But thankfully, things calmed quickly and a hugely encouraging night was not sullied.

A new dawn at Wanderers – and a fine send off for the young men who helped keep the club afloat. Count on them returning soon.