HE might soon be the third most expensive English goalkeeper in history, and is definitely a man in high demand… But he’s still a Wanderer at heart.

James Trafford – fresh from his penalty heroics at the European Championships – dropped in at the Tameside Stadium to watch his former club chalk up a second successive pre-season victory.

Baseball cap turned around the wrong way, and smile etched permanently on his face, the goalkeeper was greeted warmly by his ex-colleagues just days after helping England’s Under-21s to victory in Georgia.

It had been a difficult few days for the Whites, who had struggled in the rain at Bamber Bridge, lost the services of George Johnston for the season and then jangled nerves further by accepting an offer from MK Dons for MJ Williams.

But both the level of performance and the appearance of Trafford at Curzon Ashton were welcome sights which might just make a restless fanbase feel a little cheerier.

Be it the immaculate pitch, the cooler evening temperature or just a few cobwebs blown off at the weekend, the tempo of Bolton’s early play was infinitely better than it had been at a clammy Bamber Bridge.

Ricardo Santos was not in the squad, staying at home to tend to a family issue, and there was no sight of Declan John, who had picked up a minor ankle problem, and Dan Nlundulu, who was nursing an eye infection.

Josh Dacres-Cogley took just four minutes to put the Whites ahead from close range, teed up by Kyle Dempsey, and with Evatt providing an endless stream of positive direction from the touchline they continued to pin back their National League North opponents for the majority of the half.

Dion Charles was making his first start of pre-season, and instantly regained that touch of devilment which makes any heavy touch for a defender a potentially problematic one. With one typical piece of opportunism he nipped in to wrestle the ball from Devon Matthews on the right before being ankle-tapped with a tackle Sam Tomkins would have been proud to call his own.

Aaron Morley came within a whisker of doubling the lead, driving a right-footed shot against the base of the post. It became a matter of when, and not if, the second goal would arrive after that.

Victor Adeboyejo thought he had it, turning smartly to hit a shot that was deflected narrowly wide, and Will Forrester missed out by millimetres as he threw himself at a driven pass from Morley.

Midway through the half Wanderers got the second goal that their build-up play had deserved. Forrester combined well with Dacres-Cogley on the right, and Gethin Jones turned in the resultant cross home from close range.

It was exactly the sort of advanced position that Bolton found themselves in on many occasions last season but failed to punish, and one hopes this is evidence that the work on the training ground is paying off.

Dempsey constantly looked to turn and drive into the penalty area beyond the strikers and one shot on the half-hour mark brought a wonderful full-length save out of home keeper Cameron Mason.

To their credit, The Nash, as they are known in these parts, continued to try and play passing football, and on a surface of such quality, why wouldn’t you?

They found it difficult to get much possession in the Wanderers half, though, and but for a few crosses that flashed across his penalty box there was little for new keeper Nathan Baxter to do but join in as a centre-half on the occasional bit of build-up.

Wanderers might have grabbed a third before the break – Mason pushing away a stinging effort from Dacres-Cogley – and potentially paid the price for pushing too many players forward at times.

But the ‘first half’ team had done their job, pre-season suddenly felt that bit brighter after a gloomy start.

Six of Bolton’s players warmed down at half time but Iredale, Jones, Morley, Forrester, Dempsey all stayed on for the start of the second half but the Whites made a sloppy start, and when a long ball from the back put Jamie Allen in the clear, Iredale’s recovering challenge took out man and ball. Referee Ben Wyatt pointed to the spot and Stefan Mols did the rest.

The Australian nearly redeemed himself with a clever cross to find Cameron Jerome at the far post but keeper Mason managed to block his headed effort.

The procession of half-time changes took Wanderers out of their rhythm somewhat and their press with Jon Dadi Bodvarsson and Cameron Jerome up top was never going to be quite a sharp. But with the home side continuing to take risks on the ball there was one delightful footrace between the 36-year-old Jerome and Mason as they chased a loose pass won, by a nose, by the Curzon keeper.

Jerome had the last laugh, however, skipping on to a fine through ball from George Thomason a few minutes later and producing a cheeky chipped finish for the third.

There was a collective intake of breath from the Bolton supporters when Bodvarsson was clattered by Adam Barton, instantly grabbing his ankle in pain on the edge of the box. Evatt could hardly look as the thought of losing another key player crossed his mind but, mercifully, the Icelander got back to his feet quickly and nearly created a goal for Matthew Tweedley a few minutes later.

Kieran Sadlier put two dangerous crosses in towards the end of the game that nearly created a fourth – one of which was scrambled off the line by Marcus Poscha after a touch from Jerome.

A goal for Bodvarsson would have been the icing on the cake but he fired over the bar in the closing minutes.