Wanderers' pre-season progressed one step further with a hard-fought goalless draw against Sky Bet League Two side Morecambe at Lostock this Tuesday afternoon.
Phil Parkinson made two changes to the starting eleven from last weekend's win at FC Halifax Town with Craig Noone coming into the side instead of Sammy Ameobi. Trialist Jack Hobbs also came in to start alongside captain David Wheater, with Mark Beevers amongst the substitutes.
Wanderers were up against a physical Morecambe team who were clearly willing to compete for everything, but the home side had their first chance inside a couple of minutes. A back-pass towards Barry Roche was intercepted by Clayton Donaldson; the latter rounded the Morecamber goalkeeper but he was forced wide and failed to make the visitors pay by hitting the target.
The next chance was also one that belonged to Phil Parkinson's side and it was one created by the lively Will Buckley. Moving forward down the left-hand side, he used Andrew Taylor's run down the outside as a decoy before cutting inside and finding Josh Vela who rifled a shot from the edge of the box inches wide of the post.
Craig Noone was the next player to have a chance of scoring for Wanderers but his shot from the best part of 35 yards was grasped low to his right by Roche, with the experienced stopper taking no chances after the ball had taken a slight deflection.
Ben Alnwick was called into action twice in quick succession shortly afterwards to keep Morecambe at bay. Zak Mills swung a cross into the box from the right-hand side which was punched half clear by Alnwick under pressure from Vadaine Oliver, and then the stopper got back to his feet to deny Aaron Wildig.
Partial to a venture forward from the back, as seen at Halifax last weekend, David Wheater carried the ball into the final third but instead of opting for a shot on this occasion, he picked out Noone to his right and the winger saw a first-time curling effort from just outside the box go narrowly wide of the far post.
Liam Mandeville had Morecambe's best chance of the half just before the interval, but after moving into space on the edge of the box, he saw a low shot towards goal saved excellently by Alnwick.
Phil Parkinson made a double change at the interval. Mark Beevers came on at centre back to replace Wheater and that meant Vela took the captain's armband. Trialist stopper Sam Walker also came on at the interval in place of Alnwick.
Noone was growing into the game as the clock ticked on and he had the first chance of the second half, though his rising shot from 20 yards out never really had Roche worried. Seconds later though, Donaldson's deflected shot proved a cause for concern for the Morecambe stopper, but fortunately for him the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Wanderers were beginning to crank up the pressure on the visitors and Adam Le Fondre was denied a goal by an instinctive save by Roche. The 'keeper at his absolute best to prevent Le Fondre beating him with a fierce shot on the turn from 12 yards out.
Walker had his first involvement in the game before long as Morecambe launched a counter-attack. Liam Mandeville was probably the liveliest player in a red shirt and he saw a deflected shot held alertly by the former Colchester United goalkeeper.
The next to try and provide Le Fondre was Andrew Taylor and the left back's delivery was on the money but the Wanderers forward could only see his header across goal flash marginally wide of the far post.
The game could really have gone either way thus was the level of intesity being displayed by both teams and Mark Little was caught in a dangerous position by veteran winger Kevin Ellison. The latter delivered a dangerous low cross into the six-yard box which was diverted inches wide of the post at full stretch by Mandeville.
On the hour, trialist midfielder Gary O'Neil was brought into the fray for Donaldson and ten minutes later Phil Parkinson made a further eight changes with Stephen Darby, Liam Edwards, David Cotterill (trialist), Jack Earing, Joe Pritchard, Pawel Olkowski, Eddie Brown and Dennis Politic all into the action. A distinct mixture of youth and experience now playing together in the final 20 minutes of the game.
First year professional Politic looked lively from the outset and he combined well with Darby before the latter's cross was header just over the bar by second year scholar, 17 year-old Eddie Brown.
Olkowski was on at right-back for his first outing in a Wanderers shirt and he looked comfortable. The Polish defender ended a dazzling dart forward from the back with a pass through to Pritchard and the latter picked his moment carefully before lashing a shot across goal and inches wide of the mark.
After Pritchard was fouled, the hosts had one more chance in the dying seconds to grab the victory but Cotterill couldn't hit the target with a free-kick from 25 yards which beat the wall but never troubled Roche.