Bolton suffer a pre-season defeat on the south coast
Wanderers suffered a pre-season defeat on the south coast, succumbing to a buoyant Portsmouth side at Fratton Park.
Despite a sprightly start to the game, Owen Coyle’s charges fell behind after two goals inside the space of seven minutes left Wanderers reeling - one of which was a delightful free-kick from the impressive Liam Lawrence.
The introduction of Benik Afobe at the interval added an extra impetus to Bolton’s attacking intentions, though sub Ashley Harris added a third for Pompey within five minutes of the restart.
Bolton could consider themselves somewhat unlucky not to register on the scoresheet, with Pompey’s goalkeepers, one in each half, pulling off a string of fine saves throughout the course of the afternoon.
Tyrone Mears, Sam Ricketts and Martin Petrov, all unused substitutes in the recent win at Morecambe, all featured from the off. Chung-Yong Lee also started having previously been rested.
Pompey’s somewhat scrambled-together side contained a whole host of trialists familiar to followers of the Football League. Luke Rodgers, formerly of the New York Red Bull and Notts County led the line alongside ex-Barnet striker Izale McLeod.
Jon Harley, ex-Chelsea and Notts County, Mustapha Dumbuya ex-Doncaster and Brian Howard ex-Sheffield United and Reading were other notable names, whilst ex-Wanderer Tal Ben Haim also started.
In the early throes Wanderers moved the ball well, continuously farming possession from left to right.
Despite that early promise, the first chance of the game was gifted to the Trotters. A sloppy pass amid the Portsmouth rearguard presented the ball to David Ngog. After initially steadying himself, the Frenchman let rip from 18 yards, fully extending the hosts' stopper Brian Morris.
It was a top drawer save and just seconds later the ball was in the back of the Bolton net following a slick Pompey move on the break.
After McLeod had raced onto a through ball down the right channel, he remained composed enough to pick out the incoming run of left winger Kieran Djilali who duly side-footed home from 12 yards.
Bolton persisted in their forays into the Pompey half and forced Morris into an unorthodox save on ten minutes. Zat Knight bundled the ball goalwards from Chris Eagles’ free-kick, only for Morris to scamper across his line and smuggle the ball away.
Every touch from Ben Haim had been jeered by the couple of thousand Pompey fans inside Fratton Park – that was until the 14th minute when the Israeli embarked on a barnstorming run that eventually resulted in Pompey’s second goal of the contest.
After brushing past a couple of tackles, Ben Haim’s progress was halted some 25 yard from goal by Mark Davies’ outstretched leg. Lawrence weighed up his options, before curling a delightful effort up and over the wall and into Bogdan’s top corner.
The home side, buoyed by the Pompey chimes from the home fans, clearly had the wind in their sails.
Howard saw an effort cleared off the line by Matt Mills before the impressive Lawrence saw an audacious 35-yard missile loop within a whisker of Bogdan’s crossbar.
On 25 minutes, Ngog’s tireless runs into the channels almost bore fruit, though after some neat footwork he was barged off the ball by Josh Thompson. Ngog hobbled away from the incident clutching his lower back and was immediately replaced by Kevin Davies.
And within minutes of his introduction, Kevin Davies had almost reduced arrears, heading over the crossbar at the back post following a gutsy run from Eagles.
Tim Ream, Darren Pratley and Afobe, who had signed on loan from Arsenal less than 24 hours earlier, were all thrown on by Coyle at the interval.
Afobe almost had an immediate impact on proceedings. He burst onto Kevin Davies’ flick and when one-on-one forced sub keeper Simon Eastwood into a fine block.
On 55 minutes Portsmouth added to their lead in somewhat controversial circumstances.
Pratley was seemingly unfairly challenged just inside his own half, though the referee allowed play to continue. Lawrence assumed possession out wide, before curling a teasing left-foot cross into the danger zone. Sub Ashley Harris stormed in at the back post to head in off Bogdan’s far post.
The remainder of the game was played at a pedestrian pace, with both sides enjoying large spells of possession with little penetration.
A whole host of substitutions were made by both sides throughout, with one of those, Marcos Alonso, lashing a volley inches over the bar in Bolton’s only attempt of note as the game neared its conclusion.
As a sterile second period came to an end, Bolton’s focus now turns to Tuesday night’s trip to face Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.
Wanderers: Bogdan, Mears, Mills, Knight (Ream 46), Ricketts (Alonso 77), Chung-Yong (Pratley 46), Andrews, M Davies (Afobe 46), Petrov (Wylde 73), Eagles (Riley 57), Ngog (K Davies 25) (Unused substitutes: Lonergan, Vela, O'Halloran)
Portsmouth: Morris (Eastwood 46), Harley, Ben Haim, J Thompson (Sallaj 77), Walker (D Thompson 78), Dumbuya (Webster 73), Lawrence (Compton 73), Djilali (Harris 46), Rodgers (Clifford 46), Howard, McLeod (Unused substitutes: Butler, Magri, Wallace)