An improved second half, a Connor Hall goal, and another bright show from Craig Noone was all that the most optimistic Boltonian observer could take from Nethermoor Park, as the gutsy Vanarama North hosts held on for a well-deserved win.
During the quieter moments in the first half, I’m sure the smattering of travelling fans could be heard whispering under their breath: “It’s only pre-season, it’s only pre-season.”
Yes, it was a rather experimental line-up. But by no means a weak team. And the rusty football on show was that of a team just starting their preparations in early July than one who will be facing ex-Premer League side West Brom in less than a fortnight.
Lining-up in goal was Ben Williams, the 35-year-old former Bury and Bradford City man who had stepped into the breach at late notice after Sam Walker had departed for Reading.
Free agent, Walker, had been on trial for the last couple of weeks and looked set for a permanent deal.
Williams’ first act was to pick the ball out of the back of his own net as Wanderers dithered around their own penalty box and got punished as Alex Purver drove a shot into the bottom corner just six minutes in.
Connor Hall had already curled one effort just over the bar by that stage – but the goal gave Guiseley an injection of confidence.
Zimbabwean international Cliff Moyo raided down the right and flashed a cross towards Kayode Odejayi, only for the former Barnsley striker to miss getting a telling touch by millimetres.
It was only temporary respite for the Whites, though, and 22 minutes in Niall Heaton whipped another dangerous ball in from the left, which bounced up nicely for Curtis Morrison to smash home on the half volley.
Pride stung, Wanderers attempted to get back into the game. Ameobi stung the keeper’s hands with a dipping free kick and then combined with Adam Le Fondre to give Hall another golden chance close in. Keeper Joe Green somehow managed to spread his body and, helped by covering defenders, scramble the ball off the line.
Wanderers’ back line had a distinctly unfamiliar look about it. Mark Little was playing on the left, Stephen Darby and Jack Hobbs in the middle, and new boy Pawel Olkowski down the right. The net result was some disjointed defending, like the statue-esque stuff that allowed Odejayi to race through unchecked 10 minutes before half time. Thankfully, on this occasion, Williams was quick off his line to make the challenge 25 yards from his own goal.
You half expected Phil Parkinson to make the ultimate 11-man switch at half time but the Bolton boss was more conservative, bringing on just three in Yanic Wildschut, Mark Beevers and pre-season’s most promising player so far, Craig Noone.
The two wide men did add an air of positivity to a side that had, to that point, looked like it had over-indulged at the nearby Whetherby Whaler.
Wildschut sent one volley fizzing wide and both Hobbs and Beevers had efforts hacked away in the six yard box after a pair of Joe Pritchard corners.
Noone was involved in the goal that gave Wanderers a sniff of getting back into the game. His looping cross got the merest flick from Le Fondre, and when Green failed to hold the ball, Hall was there to stab home from close range.
Moments later, Noone nearly grabbed an equaliser as his dipping shot from the edge of the box just dropped over the crossbar.
As the evening set in, Wanderers made another raft of substitutions, including the introduction of Erhun Oztumer for his first action since the Halifax game.
At that stage you would still have bet on a Bolton equaliser but, quick as a flash, Guiseley found a third to kill off the game. Josh Vela made a clumsy challenge on the home winger – known only in these parts as A Trialist – and ref Jon Moss pointed straight to the spot.
Reece Thompson rammed the penalty home past Williams, who along with Darby was the only man to survive all 90 terrifying minutes.
Wanderers: Williams, Little (Taylor 72), Hobbs (Wheater 64), Olkowski (Beevers 46), Darby; Ameobi (Wildschut 46), O’Neil (Vela 72), Pritchard (Lowe 72), Buckley (Noone 46); Hall (Oztumer 72), Le Fondre (Donaldson 72).
Not used: Alnwick, Nganioni, Wilson, Edwards, Earing, Wood.
Referee: Jon Moss