Carl Winchester’s second-half goal consigned Bolton Wanderers to an opening day defeat against Forest Green Rovers at the University of Bolton Stadium.
The visiting captain's powerful strike proved to be the only goal of the game with Wanderers unable to breach the Forest Green defence.
Reiss Greenidge was handed his debut as Head Coach Ian Evatt made five changes from the team that suffered a narrow defeat to Crewe Alexandra in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
Alongside Greenidge, Gethin Jones, Brandon Comley, Ricardo Santos and Alex Baptiste stepped up from the bench as Evatt looked to get Wanderers’ Sky Bet League Two campaign off to a positive start against the Gloucestershire-based outfit.
It was the first time that these sides had ever faced one another.
Wanderers had an early chance to open their account with five minutes on the clock. The visitors had lost possession deep in their own half and both Antoni Sarcevic and Eoin Doyle charged after the ball. However, although the Irishman got a firm shot in he drilled his effort wide of the mark.
After being on the back foot for the early stages of the game, Rovers won a free kick 25 yards out after Santos fouled Jamille Matt. Billy Crellin, though, emphatically punched Winchester’s dead ball delivery away before it could cause any danger.
The visitors were getting back into the contest and spurned a glorious chance to put themselves in front when Aaron Collins drilled wide after Nicky Cadden’s free-kick was cleared into his path.
Kane Wilson weaved into space inside the box and shaped up to shoot but he was halted by a brilliant tackle from debutante Greenidge.
A moment later, and Crellin held on well to a powerful Winchester free-kick from 18 yards out.
On the break, Doyle did wel to lose his markers and sent in a decent cross for Nathan Delfouneso whose touch unfortunately let him down.
Wanderers were unlucky not to take the lead on 35 minutes after some great build-up play culminated in a low Sarcevic strike being kept out by the feet of Luke McGee.
From Tom White’s resulting free-kick, Greenidge headed wide at the far post as Wanderers looked to impose themselves.
At the other end, Wanderers conceded a sloppy free-kick which saw Comley yellow-carded. From the set-piece, Adams volleyed over from ten yards out.
Within seconds of the restart, Gordon was clumsily scythed down on the edge of the box. White’s free-kick, though, was easily dealt with by the Rovers defence.
Minutes later and Adams should have done better at the other end when his volley flashed across goal after he connected with Kane Wilson’s cross.
The visitors took the lead on 50 minutes when Winchester hit a low curling right footer than cannoned in off the inside of Crellin’s left-hand post.
Alex Baptiste made a last-gasp challenge to prevent Matt from doubling his side’s lead after Greenidge’s challenge was charged down into his path.
The visitors had the bit between their teeth and Wanderers had White to thank for a solid challenge on Cadden who was shaping up to shoot goalwards.
Evatt made his first change of the afternoon with Ali Crawford coming on for Comley after 55 minutes.
Delfouneso had a shot on the edge of the box blocked after a cross from Gethin Jones found him in space.
With twenty minutes to go, Evatt made a double substitution with Bright Amoateng and Andrew Tutte coming on for Greenidge and Tom White.
McGee pulled off a world class save, diving to his right, to keep out Crawford’s thunderous curling 25-yard right-footer.
Despite the change of formation, Wanderers were unable to find the back of the net and now face a long trip to Colchester United next weekend.
Wanderers: Crellin, Jones, Santos, Baptiste, Greenidge (Amoateng 71), Gordon, White (Tutte 71), Comley (Crawford 56), Sarcevic, Delfouneso, Doyle.
Unused Subs: Alexander, Hickman, Mascoll, Taft.
Forest Green: McGee, Godwin-Malife, Taylor-Moore, Kitching, Wilson, Cadden, Winchester, Adams, Sweeney, Collins (Wagstaff 82), Matt (McCoulsky 86).
Unused Subs: Thomas, Stokes, Bernard, Allen, Stevens.