“IS there any chance?” Ian Evatt bellowed to the skies rhetorically as another Wanderers attack fell by the wayside in the second half.

Perhaps it is too early in the summer for big questions. And, after all, there was only so much we were going to learn about Bolton’s progress as a team from 90 minutes played in such intense temperatures against a Northern Premier League opponent.

But regardless of how much importance us mere mortals attach to the outcome of these pre-season knockabouts, it was quite clear from the manager’s demeanour that he did indeed give a damn.

Evatt shouted, he snarled, he gestured, he looked for any loose object that could be kicked to the stands. He spent a good five minutes of the second half peeking through his fingers as if watching a tense set piece in a horror film.

If the 300-or-so Wanderers fans were happy to bask in the heatwave and relish the small mercy of watching their team live again, the man responsible for leading the Whites into League One this season did not look like he was enjoying his day one bit.

There was some comedy to be mined from the fact his opposite number, Neil Renyolds, sat serenely on a spindly chair in the middle of his technical area at the same time, like a schoolyard version of Marcelo Bielsa. Not that you would mention it to the Bolton boss and expect to keep your head on your shoulders.

Wanderers were poor, virtually across the board. Matt Gilks could walk away from his first 45 minutes of pre-season knowing he did nothing wrong, and MJ Williams likewise, the former Liverpool midfielder having tried hard to inject some urgency after the break.

George Johnston can also point to a goal-saving challenge and the fact he did head an equaliser in stoppage time, one celebrated by a few of the fans, but barely by the players on the pitch.

As for the remaining 19 who took to the pitch in such lackadaisical fashion, it was tough to tell which side was semi-professional and which was supposedly riding on the crest of a promotion wave.

FC United asked that their trialists remained anonymous and so it is difficult to go into great detail of what was a tremendously energetic and forceful performance. The ‘number 10’ bossed the show and scored just after half time when he pounced on a careless touch from keeper Joel Dixon.

Special mention, too, to ‘Number Five’ – a burly centre-half who kept Amadou Bakayoko in check admirably during the first 45 minutes.

It was also pleasing to see that Joe White, the left-back plunged into League One football at the height of Wanderers’ administration problems in 2019, has found himself a good club at which to build.

Wanderers were slow and cumbersome in the first half, barely getting their wide men Dapo Afolayan and Lloyd Isgrove into the game. At that stage Evatt had been tetchy but his frustration grew to a rage after the break when Dixon’s mistake was exposed and the hosts went desperately close to extending their lead, hitting the woodwork twice.

In the first two friendlies, Bolton have gradually ground down their opposition and picked off goals later in the game. They picked up slightly in the last 10 minutes in an effort to avoid an embarrassing score-line and did force the equaliser with the last touch, as Adam Senior headed back a free kick for Johnston to nod over the line.

Nobody was fooled, though. Evatt had been composing his post-match tirade for most of the second period and was not about to let the trivial matter of an equaliser spare those responsible.

We often look with envious eyes at the life of a professional footballer but this reporter would not trade profession with a single one of the Bolton squad as they walk into the training ground on Monday morning.

Evatt is a hard taskmaster, that much we know already. And whether it is a pre-season friendly, a group game in the Papa John’s, or the play-off final, he does set high standards.

This dismal display will be forgotten quickly, so long as the performance levels return before August 7. If more of the same is served up against MK Dons, this group of Wanderers will find out the downside of having fans back in the building.

Bolton Wanderers: Gilks (Dixon 46), Jones (Brockbank 46), Almeida Santos (Johnston 46), Baptiste (Senior 60), John (Gordon 46), Sheehan (Williams 46), Lee (Tutte 46), Sarcevic (Thomason 46), Isgrove (Amaechi 46), Afolayan (Delfouneso 46), Bakayoko (Darcy 60).

Subs not used: Conway.