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MATCH VERDICT: West Brom 1 Bolton Wanderers 2

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THEY may struggle to win a place on The X-Factor but Josh Magennis and Yanic Wildschut made sure Wanderers started this season off on the perfect note.
Like all new signings, the Bolton new boys were forced to sing a song in front of their new team-mates at initiation the night before the game against West Brom.
Magennis’ version of Robbie Williams’ Angels was, in the opinion of David Wheater, “pretty good,” while Wildschut’s John Legend cover started well before the Dutchman forgot the words and “started to sing some Euro tune”.

A pop career may elude them both – but with more moments like this, they will certainly enjoy their time with the Whites.
You could hardly have penned a better entrance for the club’s first cash signing in three-and-a-half years than to finish off an excellent move 18 minutes into his debut.
But, not for the first time in the afternoon, Magennis was exactly where he was supposed to be to head Sammy Ameobi’s fine cross past Sam Johnstone and open the scoring somewhat against the run of play.
West Brom pressed but found it difficult to break down a Bolton side whose defensive shape was as good as it has been for some time. When they did draw level it was through a piece of genius by Harvey Barnes on the stroke of half time – his curling shot beating Ben Alnwick from 25 yards.
Wanderers fans may have thought their best chance of an upset had gone. But Parkinson side continued to hassle and frustrate, showing threat on the break even when Ameobi succumbed to a hip problem early in the second half. His replacement, Craig Noone, had been unlucky not to start the game after some positive pre-season displays but – to the Liverpudlian’s immense credit – he picked up where Ameobi had left off.

Alnwick made one key save to push over a close-range header from Ahmed Hegazi but otherwise the Whites keeper’s work was restricted to clearing up. The defending in front of him, at times, was immense.

Pawel Olkowski was playing his first competitive game in English football but his decision-making, distribution and timing looked a class above.
Both Wheater and Mark Beevers put their body in the way of anything West Brom could throw at them, while Andy Taylor calmed any concern at the lack of depth in the left-back berth with a display which suggests he won’t relinquish the shirt any time soon.
The midfield trio of Josh Vela, Luke Murphy and Jason Lowe also got their role spot on. Each would probably have liked to see more of the ball – but this was one of those days where possession played second fiddle.
When Wanderers had to clear their lines, they could rely on the selfless work of Magennis to hold the ball up, draw free kicks and otherwise harangue defenders in a way which had the Bolton fans singing his name. Quite some start.

West Brom had not looked entirely comfortable at set pieces all afternoon but when a corner was won a minute from time, the chants of “Wheater, Wheater,” suggest the 2,600 away supporters knew what was coming.
Sure enough, Vela’s corner found his good pal, and his downward header was helped on its way by Wildschut to sounds of pure jubilation behind the goal.
This wasn’t quite an Aaron Wilbraham moment but Wanderers are now making quite the habit of being the ones left celebrating at the final whistle; long may it continue.
Buried deep within the throngs of jubilant faces behind the goal was a hero of days gone by. Former midfielder Stelios Giannakopoulos had made a surprise appearance aboard one of the supporters’ coaches after coming over to stay at his UK home to watch his beloved club.

He cannot help but have been impressed. Sure, this is just the first game of 46 but to have chalked up a win – an away win, no less – this early in the campaign reduces so much pressure.
“It’s a cracking start – even a draw would have been a nice result,” said Wheater. “We have worked hard over pre-season. We didn’t play the best teams, being honest, but I thought we looked good.
“In the last few years we’ve lost games like that. In the Girona game we knew we weren’t going to get too much of the ball but we stuck to the game-plan. It’s set us up nicely for the season.
“We worked hard to get that win. We deserved it, I think.”

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