WANDERERS passed their first test in the Ian Evatt era, beating Atherton Colls 3-0 in a training match some 144 days since their last competitive game.

The Bolton News was there to witness the start of a new chapter as the players took to the pitch for an unofficial match at the Skuna Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Here are the major talking points.


Even though this game was kept under wraps by both clubs – with only minimal staff and security allowed into the grounds, you can only hope someone caught the Irishman’s first goal in a Bolton shirt on camera. Twenty-five yards out, he shifted the ball in a flash and hit a shot that was past the Colls keeper before he knew it.

Doyle later joked that they won’t all be that spectacular but at first look his movement and speed of reaction whenever the ball dropped to him in the penalty box are really positive.

Can Wanderers play in a way that suits him? Again, the early signs are very good.


Wanderers have yet to train on team shape and have had just under two weeks back at Lostock, focussing primarily on fitness. Nevertheless, this was a very different looking team than the one which last pulled on an away shirt at Burton.

Instruction on the touchline was to be patient and calm in possession until a gap opened up and then, with both wing-backs pushing forward extensively, it was quick and incisive at times.

There were no long punts – as there was very little to aim at – and so the natural intelligence of Ali Crawford, Dennis Politic and new arrival Brandon Comley was needed to offer up options in the middle of the park.


It was hard to pick out one single player who impressed over the 45 minutes they were given but the left-sided wing-back, whose arrival was only announced hours before kick-off, was probably the man who stood out most.

Quick and comfortable in possession, he was in the thick of the action during the first half and looks like he is already in good physical shape.

It has been a while since Wanderers had a genuine flyer on the left – but Gordon looks on this evidence like he could match most in a foot-race.


There will be times in League Two where Wanderers will have to roll up their sleeves and defend the ugly stuff – and it seems Evatt is planning for that by bringing in some genuinely big defenders.

George Taft and Ryan Delaney were two of the confirmed names on the team-sheet but there are clues already that Wanderers will have some serious height in the team where they need it.

We also know from watching Barrow last season that the centre-halves will be expected to step forward into midfield and start off attacks, something that Taft looked particularly happy to do.


While plenty has changed since the last League One game at the Pirelli Stadium, some faces were familiar when they jogged out on Saturday afternoon. Ronan Darcy was typically busy, Dennis Politic produced a moment of magic to drive home the third goal from the edge of the box, and Matty Alexander made a couple of very handy saves when he took on the gloves for the second half.

It was good to see Muhammadu Faal in serious action again, and his combinations with Politic were a bright sign indeed. George Thomasson was another player we saw very little of last season – but he hit the woodwork during a first half when he was rarely far from the action.


As ever with pre-season friendlies, there were names on the team-sheet that were shrouded in secrecy. Some are being kept under wraps for a very good reason – and we’ll respect that – but the finish for the second goal really was a beauty.

Evatt says he is encouraged by two or three of the trail players and may well offer them something soon.


Sadly, the fans were not able to share the first glimpse of Iian Evatt’s Wanderers, and the sooner that changes, the better. But after more than four months without a ball kicked in anger it was fantastic to share in some of those sights and sounds once again, even if it was a meaningless practice game.

If this is the first step, there should be plenty to keep people entertained when they money can finally be taken at the turnstiles once again.