Expectations were mixed as having beaten Cheltenham away last month and taken a decent point at Exeter in midweek, things had to be balanced against our decidedly dodgy home form.
Ian Evatt chucked a couple of surprises into the mix with the loan signings of Zack Elbouzedi and Ben Jackson, both of whom started along with the recalled George Thomason.
For the first half, it looked like our prayers had been answered. We had shape, pattern, balance, and width to our play as we tore into Cheltenham.
We lost Kieran Lee at the break and Cheltenham clamped down on our wing play to get back into the game. They snatched the lead, and we were heading for another home edition of Pointless until Arthur Gnahoua set up the equaliser for Eoin Doyle.
Again, we fans had been through the full range of emotions to emerge with only one deserved point.
While it is nice to witness a comeback, it would be even nicer to take the lead. When the luck is not going for our strikers, we need someone from midfield or defence to have a go and break the deadlock, instead of looking for the extra pass.
We are chomping at the bit to see the launch of a sustainable charge up the leagues. I am genuinely encouraged by Phase Two getting under way with the signings of four players so far and the promise of a couple more on the way.
It will take time for the new players to bed in, but the early evidence is that Evatt has improved the squad and I feel that we are beginning to get some decent options on the bench with players who can come on and change a game.
We will need the strength in depth as injuries and suspensions kick in as the season progresses.
It is 10 years since we lost Nat Lofthouse, the man who epitomised the spirit of Bolton Wanderers. He showed everyone that ‘if you kick a Bolton Wanderers player, you kick Bolton’ and the true meaning of ‘Once in, Never out’. That is the spirit we need.
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