Bolton kept up their unbeaten pre-season run with a 1-0 win at Barrow this afternoon.
Dapo Afolayan scored in the first half with what proved to be the only goal of the game. It was a stronger team than I would have guessed after the talk of giving other players a chance. Having said that, George Thomason and Harry Brockbank did come into the starting line-up. Dennis Politic would also make his long-awaited return from injury, and got a great reception from the travelling fans. Ricardo Santos was out with a slight foot injury, although it’s nothing major apparently. Matt Gilks was isolating, so Joel Dixon played in goal with Luke Hutchinson on the bench.
Having scored on Tuesday, Gethin Jones was close to another goal, but his effort was cleared off the line by Mark Ellis, a defender signed from Tranmere who was once in our academy. Barrow had an early chance of their own though, with Josh Gordon heading Remeao Hutton’s cross wide. Matthew Platt would also have a chance, but he headed the corner wide. Five minutes before the break, Afolayan scored the goal after Eoin Doyle set him up. In a week where Evatt challenged the wingers and midfielders to score more, that’s a start.
Tom Beadling had a chance early in the second half before changes started to be made. Politic nearly set a goal up, a corner ultimately put behind by Antoni Sarcevic. Set-pieces are a bit of a concern, hopefully that will change this season. The two linked up again which resulted in Politic shooting over the bar. Barrow weren’t out of it though, with Joel Dixon, like Evatt back at his old club, making a great save from Dimitri Sea, before Adam Senior got in the way of a Josh Kay effort.
After the match Ian Evatt told the Bolton News: “It was a competitive, difficult game. We are having to put round pegs in square holes a little bit because we’re light on numbers. But overall I thought it was a good game. Both teams tried to play the right way and it was refreshing to see a Barrow team back passing and moving again, and we found it challenging at times. We found solutions, got the goal, and managed the game accordingly but it was a good workout for both sides.”
Another pre-season game down then, and we’re still unbeaten. It looks as though there are still things that could be done better, Barrow had their chances. But spirits still seem high.