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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » THE BIG-MATCH VERDICT: Shrewsbury 2-1 Bolton

THE BIG-MATCH VERDICT: Shrewsbury 2-1 Bolton

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

The EFL Trophy doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things – so goes the narrative at least.

But try telling that to Ian Evatt and those Wanderers he gave a chance to at Shrewsbury.

Being at the right end of League Two is what matters for all at the University Of Bolton Stadium at the end of day and that meant there was the expected rotation here, but Evatt bellowing instructions from the off made it clear that the expectations were no less than they had been at Harrogate a few days earlier.

And no matter the competition, it was a night to remember for Adam Senior, the hometown boy scoring his first Wanderers goal to give the visitors a sniff in a second half where they were vastly improved.

Others in the side, including Ronan Darcy on his first outing of the season, will hope to have given their manager something to think about.

Evatt, though, will have left Montgomery Waters Meadow with a familiar feeling in some respects as his side were knocked out with a game to go.

Arthur Gnahoua showed flashes of what he can do but missed two big chances while Tom White also saw a penalty come back off the post.

Defensively a much-changed backline were far from convincing at times with the Whites punished for two first-half errors.

There was another injury to contend with too, White going down under challenge from Josh Vela shortly after his spot kick miss and leaving the ground with a brace on his right knee.

The head coach made nine changes in all from his first win as Wanderers boss, only Billy Crellin and Ryan Delaney retained from the win over Harrogate, the latter being given just 45 minutes of action.

There were first outings of the season for Darcy and Senior while Finlay Lockett was handed a first Wanderers start having come off the bench in the defeat at Colchester.

It all added up to a 3-4-3 set-up with Lockett, Darcy and Gnahoua forming a rotating front three.

It was at the back though that the early issues came, a shaky opening summed up by a hot back pass from Brandon Comley which was too much for Billy Crellin who just about managed to scuff the ball out of the box.

Wanderers were growing into the game though when the hosts went in front with 19 minutes on the clock.

Captain for the night George Taft was the guilty party with a horrible pass across the face of the penalty area intercepted by Barnett who did the rest by drilling the ball low beyond Crellin from the edge of the box.

There was nearly an immediate response from Wanderers though.

Gnahoua should have levelled things up when he got on the end of Liam Gordon’s centre at the back post but when he shouldn’t have been given a chance, Harry Burgoyne produced a fine save.

The Whites were handed an even bigger chance shortly after.

White’s through ball was diverted into the path of Gnahoua who got between Aaron Pierre and Scott Golbourne and was brought down in the area.

White was the man to step up but with a hop at the end of his run-up saw his spot kick come back off the post with the ball bouncing to safety.

The Barrow loanee’s night was then to get even worse as Wanderers were dealt another injury blow. He went down in a heap under challenge from old boy Josh Vela, who was booked, and was on the turf for some time before hobbling off in some pain with what looked like a serious knee injury.

Things were to get even worse for Evatt just before half-time when the man who replaced White, Regan Riley, lost possession and Cummings did the rest from 20 yards.

It was a second emphatic finish from a second Wanderers error in their own defensive third but it should not take away from a promising display from the impressive Riley.

Cummings, booked for a strong challenge on Senior before the half was out, then nearly added insult to injury when he profited from some more charitable Wanderers play and tried to lob Crellin from fully 40 yards with the ball sailing not far over the crossbar.

Reiss Greenidge returned from injury at the interval but the hosts nearly made it three in familiar fashion.

This time it was Crellin who played his side into trouble but Cummings couldn’t take advantage as his shot went narrowly over the crossbar.

With Wanderers struggling to get anything going, and the hosts sitting on a comfortable two-goal lead, the second period was in danger of turning into a non-event.

That was until the Whites pulled a goal back out of nothing as they moved up a gear.

Darcy drifted a free-kick to the back post and Greenidge rose highest to head the ball back across goal with Senior heading the ball home from close range.

Wanderers were lifted but were fired an almost immediate warning with Barnett seeing a shot deflected wide.

With the game opening up, the next chance went the way of the visitors but having won the corner with some fine trickery on the byline, Gnahoua headed wide unmarked after Greenidge, in line for a another assist, had helped on Comley’s centre.

Barnett, turning into a real outlet in a stretched game, then fired straight into the chest of Crellin.

It was a much improved Wanderers in the second half but they couldn’t take the game to penalties, Jak Hickman slicing an effort wide as the game entered stoppage time before Jamie Mascoll couldn’t direct an effort goalwards when the ball dropped to him in the area.

The result in the grand scheme of things will be shrugged off with Evatt hoping Wanderers fans got a glimpse into the future on a supposedly meaningless night in Shropshire.

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Well I'm glad that the fringe players put up a fight but the biggest disappointment of the night was Josh Vela's career.
Still it shows that the lesser lights of the squad are competing for places and won't be outclassed if called upon.

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