It was the first game of a new era last night as Bolton took on Bradford in the EFL Trophy.
Normally such a game would be played in front of a man and his dog, but with it being the first game since the takeover, it swelled the gate. Originally one stand was meant to be open. That soon became two, then three as the attendance eventually broke the 9,000 mark, the highest crowd for any Wanderers game this season, home or away.
It was the last bow of sorts for the youngsters who have come in amongst such tricky circumstances. I’m sure the vast majority of them will be seen again, but now can be developed and blooded properly, as Keith Hill has already alluded to. Despite the nine signings on deadline day, the makeup of the squad is still such that a number of them will be regularly in matchday squads.
On the night they performed well. While the visitors enjoyed both more possession, and were the better side in the air, Bolton played some really good stuff at times, Dennis Politic, a threat all night, scored early on via a deflected effort, and it was a lead they took into the changing rooms at half time.
Bradford would improve after the break though, with annoyingly their goal coming via a set piece, Paudie O’Connor scoring a headed effort. They played at a higher tempo, and had the ball in the net again, but the goal was chalked off for a handball in the build-up.
As per the rules of this competition, there was a penalty shoot out for the bonus point after the draw. Matt Alexander would make a save from O’Connor, but Bradford would win the shootout after Adam Senior couldn’t convert the final penalty. Not sure about his run-up, but he played very well in the 90 minutes and fair play to him for even stepping up.
Now begins a week-and-a-half mini pre-season, it’ll be a much reinforced Wanderers side that turns out at Rotherham.