WANDERERS produced an impressive performance to beat Watford at their Colney training base and give fans a tantalising taste of what is in store for the League One season ahead.

There was no let up from Ian Evatt’s men, whose high press left the Championship side struggling to get any sort of cohesion in possession for most of the first half.

After the break Watford made some telling changes and created a few more opportunities but Bolton deserved their result and stuck to the task admirably.

Here we pick out five talking points from the best display in pre-season so far.


We saw it against Sunderland last season, and it worked a treat, but the partnership of Dapo Afolayan and Dion Charles is really quite an intriguing prospect up front.

Ian Evatt has plenty of options up front, and though pushing Afolayan further forward was probably a product of Amadou Bakayoko’s injury – with Elias Kachunga and Jon Dadi Bodvarsson reserved for a weekend start at Carlisle United – the success of the experiment might just give him food for thought.

Afolayan took his goal well and built on what was an excellent performance against Wigan a few days earlier.


With Conor Bradley benched, Kieran Sadlier was picked at right wing-back once more.

While many would say his best position is further forward, the hour he played against Watford’s quick and physical wide men suggests that his defensive work is improving.

He didn’t get too many opportunities to push on, so we are yet to see much of his attacking quality this summer, but Sadlier is certainly showing he is a team player.


Not much went well for Joel Dixon in his first season at Bolton Wanderers.

He seized control of the goalkeeper spot a week in and looked solid until the club started to rack up injuries and Covid absences, after which his confidence seemed to suffer with each poor result at the end of last year.

Some reports – wrongly – claimed he was being lined up for a return to Barrow this summer. But this summer he has made some genuinely eye-catching saves and looks determined to fight for as much football as he can wrestle from James Trafford.

More importantly, he is also winning over some of the doubters who had racked up at the end of 2021 when the mood at Wanderers was quite different.

The Bolton News:


Sharon Brittan came to see Wanderers in action at Colney, along with her sons Ollie and Toby, and stayed behind to chat with players and staff.

As quite a few supporters observed when The Bolton News published a picture of the chairman speaking with Ricardo Santos and Elias Kachunga, the smiles painted a picture of a happy club. And long may that continue.


Early in the game George Thomason was poleaxed by one of the Watford midfielders, some of whom looked like they were playing a game of dads v lads.

Despite the difference in stature, however, Wanderers played their way into the lead and then showed they can dish out the darker arts of the game too.

Will Aimson and MJ Williams got stuck in to the point that complaints from the home players nearly drowned out the traffic buzz from the nearby M25.

Ricardo Santos was also back to his swaggering best, timing his challenges perfectly. If the skipper had been slightly below par in a few pre-season games, this was much more like it.