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COMMENT: After words of wisdom off the pitch, time for action on it at Bolton

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
After Sharon Brittan supplied some much-needed reassurance from the boardroom yesterday, Ian Evatt will be hoping his team can do the same on the pitch.

As football continues to wrestle with the ugly practicalities of a pandemic, fans will once again be logging on to their laptop to see Wanderers in action against Newport.

At one stage, this Saturday’s game was pencilled in as the last at the UniBol to be played entirely behind closed doors, when a phased return for supporters was due to be rolled out from the start of next month.

Instead, after a local lockdown pushed back the likelihood of Bolton bringing back crowds ahead of schedule, the government’s decision to ‘press pause’ on the plan has got clubs up and down the land staring anxiously at the balance sheet once again.

Brittain, speaking on behalf of Football Ventures, underlined their financial support will continue – words that will no doubt have been appreciated by the Bolton fanbase.

And after a week of doom and gloom in every corner of the game, there could be no better time for Evatt and his side to live up to their top billing in League Two by serving up a much-needed three points to cheer up his own club’s support.

Though not everyone agreed with Evatt’s ultra-positive view after defeat at Colchester United, few would argue the performance was a step up on the previous home loss against Forest Green.

Wanderers have failed to take the lead in any competitive game since February, when they beat Tranmere Rovers. And you have to go back to last December and Southend at home to find the last time they trailed in a game but came back to win.

Mental frailty, or issues with concentration have been a much-discussed issue for Bolton teams over the last few years but with a brand new squad assembled over the summer it is difficult to see how this group is falling into the same traps as the last, particularly as they are playing in such a sterile environment without the expectancy of supporters.

Evatt’s move to a 4-3-3 system last week was a bold one considering the work that had gone into establishing his more familiar 3-4-1-2 over the summer but did seem to suit the available personnel.

It remains to be seen whether the Whites head coach will look to strengthen with one or both shapes in mind before transfer deadline on October 5, particularly as his wide players are almost exclusively wing-backs who were brought in for exactly that purpose.

A striker had been top of the shopping list and though efforts to sign David Ball from Wellington Phoenix fell short, a similar player who can occupy either the central position up front, play as a number 10, or either side of the three would be perfect.

Yesterday links materialised with Portsmouth’s attacking midfielder, Gareth Evans, which though unsubstantiated as things stand, certainly seem to tick the right boxes.

In the meantime Bolton may hope that Shaun Miller recovers from injury to offer a different attacking option, or that the pedigree of Eoin Doyle and Nathan Delfouneso can come to the fore.

Newport have made a fine start to the season with their only defeat coming in the EFL Trophy.

The South Wales side have beaten Swansea City, Cambridge and Watford in the Carabao Cup, booking a fourth-round clash with Newcastle United.

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