Second half goals from Paul Smyth and Fred Onyedinma may have given the points to Wycombe Wanderers in a 2-0 victory at Adams Park but the display of passion, pride and endeavour from a young Bolton Wanderers side will stay in the hearts and minds of the travelling supporters for years to come.
Towering performances from young men who’ve been with the club’s academy since they were young boys showed love and desire for the badge they so proudly adorned on their chests.
On this occasion, the result didn’t matter and the Wanderers fans celebrated at full-time as if they had won promotion.
Phil Parkinson handed out six debuts as Bolton Wanderers took to the field for their opening Sky Bet League One fixture.
New signings James Weir, Josh Earl, and Harry Brockbank, who had re-signed for the club on a two year deal, joined Denis Politic, Liam Edwards, Yoan Zouma and Eddie Brown – players from the clubs under 18s and under 23s squads, in making their first senior appearances in Wanderers colours.
With just under 2,000 travelling Wanderers fans making their passion heard, the players knew that they had an unequivocal backing of every single man, woman and child in the away end.
Adeybayo Akinfenwa had the game’s first chance after two minutes but as he turned to get a shot on target – after latching on a ball pumped into the box - he scuffed the ball into the arms of Remi Matthews.
The visitors suffered an early blow when debutant Earl went down under a heavy challenge. After some lengthy treatment he went off the field to be replaced by Joe White.
Zouma made a stunning perfectly timed challenge in his own box to thwart Alex Samuel as the wideman threatened.
Akinfenwa’s physical presence was proving to be a handful for the Wanderers back line and a headed lay off for Paul Smyth culminated in the latter drilling his effort across the face of Matthews’ goal.
Politic had Wanderers first effort just after the half-hour half mark when his shot from distance drifted narrowly wide.
A long range effort from Smyth flew over Matthews’ bar after the hosts tried to wrest back control of the game.
Akinfenwa spurned a glorious chance when a cross from the right found his head. His header, though, proved to be wayward and threat passed.
The burly striker was more accurate with his next effort, after connecting to a right sided free-kick, but his headed shot went straight into Matthews’ hands.
On the stroke of half time, Samuel should have done better with his diagonal shot that arrowed just over Matthews’ cross bar.
Three minutes after the restart and a goalmouth melee in the Wanderers box ended up with the visitors being awarded a goal-kick.
Another superb tackle from Zouma, over on the right, robbed Samuel of possession and brought about adoring chants from the Wanderers faithful.
A vital block from Brockbank denied Bloomfield at close range as the hosts stepped up their attacking threat.
From the resulting corner, big centre-half Anthony Stewart headed wide of Matthews’ right hand stick.
Smyth opened the scoring in the 57th minute when he put the ball into an empty net after Matthews was stranded outside his box.
Matthews raced off his line to thwart Pattison after Wanderers lost possession at the expense of a corner from which Fred Onyedinma headed home to put the hosts two goals to the good.
Despite the loss, Wanderers trudged off the field with their heads held firmly high.
Matthews, Lowe, Murphy, Oztumer (Darcy 70), Weir, Brockbank, Politic, Edwards, Zouma (King-Harmes 77), Earl (White 14), Brown
Subs Not Used: Alnwick, Boon, Senior, Graham.