But was it all bad? And what did we learn from the first ‘proper’ 90 minutes of the 2020/21 season?
Marc Iles lists the five top talking points.
CONCENTRATION’S WHAT YOU NEED
Both goals owed much to Wanderers dropping off in defence.
Credit to Bradford for some decent football in the build-up to the first – although there was plenty of space to exploit down Bolton’s left and Novak effectively passed the ball unchallenged into the net.
The second will really stick in Ian Evatt’s craw, though, and after a deep cross from O’Connor the Wanderers’ defender had ages to track the ball, yet Pritchard somehow had a free header.
Not good enough, I’m afraid.
It’s the first game for six months, so of course everyone wanted to impress. But there was a feeling that the occasion got to some more than others.
Eoin Doyle did everything he could to get his team going – but in doing so he probably dropped too deep and left his midfielders with little to aim at. The Irishman didn’t get a proper shot at goal in 90 minutes.
He wasn’t alone and you have to hope that things will settle down.
It was all a bit messy for Bolton – but Tom White lived up to his name and was spotless over the 90 minutes.
When Bradford started to get on top in the first half the youngster demanded the ball, got Bolton moving back in the right direction, and it’s just a shame they didn’t push on after getting level.
White played for Evatt last season at Barrow and knows the system. In that respect he had an advantage.
Promising signs indeed.
When Antoni Sarcevic equalised the roar from the Wanderers faithful would have been enough to get the heart pumping – but instead things fell a little flat, and it showed.
Rather than be stirred on for a second goal, things became a little static. The impetus quickly shifted back to Bradford and the game drifted away.
For so many reasons, Bolton need people back in the building, and quick.
Whatever you feel about the result, distribution from back to front was actually as good as it has been in the last few games.
The shape of the team is improving. The plan is slowly developing. Wanderers had 63 per cent possession against Bradford but need to sharpen up in the final third and move the ball quicker than they did in the first half.
Defensive mistakes are one thing – and you have to hope they will be ironed out – but the Ian Evatt blue print is there for all to see and it will improve.
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