WANDERERS won’t get many more comfortable wins in League One this season than they did against lowly Crewe Alexandra.

Ian Evatt’s side had a gruelling October but after stabilising themselves in the cup, enjoyed a relatively routine win against the Railwaymen to put themselves back into the top 10.

After a laboured first half, Josh Sheehan scored from the spot five minutes after the restart, followed by a welcome return to the scoresheet for Amadou Bakayoko, who grabbed his first league goal since the opening weekend of the season.

Other than that, Bolton were in cruise control and saw the game out in relative comfort.

The big talking point prior to kick off was the absence of striker Eoin Doyle on the team-sheet, with the Irishman confirmed unavailable because of injury.

Having played himself into a bit of scoring form in the cup competitions, his boots were going to be tough to fill for Amadou Bakayoko, himself struggling to replicate his early season form after a few niggling injuries.

And sure enough, the first 45 minutes were a succession of half-chances, many of which fell for Bakayoko, and most of which appeared better suited to Doyle.

The one exception was an early headed chance as Lloyd Isgrove picked out the former Coventry City striker with a lovely cross from the right. Bakayoko got the power, but not the accuracy, and the ball was sent sailing over the bar.

Crewe keeper Dave Richards had to be alert on the couple of occasions that Bolton breached their deep-lying defences. Josh Sheehan sprung through on Isgrove’s pass 15 minutes in but failed to get a shot away, and a few moments later it was Bakayoko who collided with the onrushing Richards without being able to squeeze the ball past him. You could not help but feel at the time that a cannier operator like Doyle may have found a way.

The visitors offered next to nothing in attack but the slow tempo of the game meant they were able to sit deep and rely on the odd quick break to catch Bolton off-guard.

Luke Offord’s 30-yarder was as close as they got to a meaningful shot on target but while the score stayed goalless, anything could happen.

Otherwise, the main topic of conversation was how many players’ names referee James Bell would look to fit in his book? After Elias Kachunga was cautioned after just 34 seconds, the entire Crewe front line joined him inside the opening half an hour.

Wanderers too often looked ponderous in possession but the flashes of brilliance from Dapo Afolayan and Isgrove for a sign of things to come.

When one or both of them looked to inject some pace into the attack, the Railwaymen could offer little in response.

Bakayoko’s inclusion down the middle had offered the Whites a chance to play more direct but the one time they managed it, Afolayan was the man to latch on to Dixon’s long punt, bringing the ball down with his chest before firing just wide.

Isgrove then produced a piece of magic, playing Kieran Lee into the penalty box with an audacious backheel flick that was right out of Jay Jay Okocha’s playbook. The two can swap notes on Sunday when the Legends team come to town – but sadly, Lee’s cross towards Bakayoko could not be forced into the net.

At half time, the appearance of John McGinlay, Stelios, Henrik Pedersen and Gudni Bergsson – all of whom will be playing in Gethin Jones’s fundraiser – brought some much-needed cheer to the dampened crowd.

But the Bolton side that emerged for the second half looked right on message, and within five minutes they found the breakthrough for which they had been searching.

Offord put his team under pressure by failing to clear his lines and Bakayoko – who didn’t let his head go down after a tough first 45 minutes – got in the mix to draw a rash challenge from keeper Richards.

The striker initially got off the turf to take the penalty himself but Sheehan was having none of it, grabbing the ball to stroke home the opening goal, and his fourth of the season.

Just four minutes later, the lead was doubled. This time, Bakayoko showed a predatory instinct that had been missing earlier in the game, getting on the end of a good low cross from Kachunga.

Dixon made a good save from Zac Williams’ header to make sure there was no route back into the game for Crewe but Bolton knew they had done the hard work.

There were chances to kill the game stone dead. Kieran Lee flashed a shot over the bar, Kachunga nearly got on the end of Afolayan’s cross and Bakayoko had a volley deflected wide after Declan John had produced a party piece chipped pass on the edge of the box.

With five minutes to go, Evatt was even comfortable enough to bring summer signing Xav Amaechi on for his long-awaited first appearance in a Wanderers shirt, the Hamburg winger having fractured his metatarsal in pre-season.

Dixon briefly jangled nerves, spilling a late catch into the path of sub Scott Kashket, but thankfully gathering it before he could get a shot on goal.

Gomes also saw a late dipping volley bounce off the inside of the post, proof positive that when you are down the bottom of the table, luck never seems to be on your side.

It had been 10 games since Wanderers could last celebrate a clean sheet, that way back on September 6 in a goalless draw with Burton Albion. But in truth, they won’t get many easier nights than this.