Matt Mills and Jermaine Beckford on target in Vale Park victory
Bolton Wanderers’ penultimate pre-season fixture in the countdown to the new campaign ended with victory against Port Vale at Vale Park.
Matt Mills, skipper for the evening, and second half sub Jermaine Beckford scored either side of half time to decide an entertaining contest.
Added bonus for Dougie Freedman came in form of several senior players gaining valuable playing time, with Andrew Lonergan, Mills, Dorian Dervite, Liam Feeney and Medo Kamara all completing the full 90.
With three central defenders flanked by wing-backs, Wanderers started the game in the ascendency and were a goal to the good inside seven minutes.
A routine out-swinging corner kick from Liam Feeney was met by Mills, who expertly guided a header into the far corner of the net.
The hosts continued to weave pretty patterns and did create chances of their own.
Andrew Lonergan was on hand to palm away both Chris Lines and Michael O’Connor efforts, as the hosts upped the ante in response to conceding the opener.
Bolton still looked a threat themselves. Conor Wilkinson received Craig Davies’ pass with his back to goal, before spinning away from his marker and forcing Sam Johnson into a smart save on 12 minutes.
Davies then linked up with namesake Mark, before breaking away from the backline and seeing a curling effort plucked out of the air by Vale stopper Sam Johnson.
On the half hour Mark Davies, operating in a deep-lying midfield role, found a pocket of space after combining well with Lee Chung-Yong and saw a shot deflect and loop a few feet wide of the post.
Vale’s best chance of the half came in the run-up to the interval.
Chris Birchall clipped a delicate ball to Mark Marshall, who when in space just inside the Bolton area volleyed goalwards with Lonergan again on hand to expertly push away.
The second half started in a similar pattern, with Lee looking particularly menacing in an advanced central midfield role.
The Korean international, starting his first pre-season game following World Cup exploits with Korea, set Dean Moxey free down the left, with his daisy cutter rolling wide of the far post.
Vale still posed a threat when pushing forward.
Skipper Carl Dickinson saw a header from a corner fisted away by Lonergan.
As the game wore on a series of substitutions followed from both sides.
One of those, Neil Danns, saw a long ranger flash wide of the post.
And from a similar distance fellow sub Beckford crashed home Wanderers’ second on 77 minutes.
Collecting the ball 30 yards from goal, Bolton’s number ten lashed a low drive that skidded off the turf and into the net via the base of the post.
There was a late introduction for player-coach Andy Hughes, who replaced Mark Davies on 82 minutes.
And Vale did half the deficit late on, with Tom Pope cushioning a header into the Bolton net.
Bolton: Lonergan, Ream (McNaughton 59), Moxey (Threlkeld 73), Mills, Dervite, Medo, Feeney, Lee (Danns 72), M Davies (Hughes 82), C Davies (Beckford 72), Wilkinson (Hall 59)
Unused substitutes: Fitzsimons, Spearing, Pratley, Clough, Sellers, Wheater