Ian Evatt’s men put in an impressive pre-season display to edge past Sky Bet Championship side Preston North End at the County Ground, Leyland on Tuesday evening. Wanderers were in control for much of the game and scored the decisive goal through Gethin Jones early in the second half.
In front of another very healthy following of supporters, Wanderers put in a strong performance and almost took the lead in the opening exchanges with North End stopper Connor Ripley producing a smart save to keep out Xavier Amaechi’s free-kick.
Amaechi was involved in the next Wanderers attack, and after linking up well with Amadou Bakayoko, the ball fell to the energetic Josh Sheehan who fired a shot just wide of the target.
North End had a couple of opportunities of their own down the other end of the field shortly afterwards. Brad Potts drilled a shot well wide of the mark after latching onto Scott Sinclair’s lay-off, and then towering central defender Patrick Bauer powered a header wide.
Midway through the first half Amaechi was withdrawn with what later appeared to be a metatarsal foot injury, and he was replaced by Nathan Delfouneso.
Wanderers grew stronger and stronger as the first half went on and Ripley did really well to keep out Sheehan’s probing free-kick into the box with the sun seemingly in his eyes. The North End stopper then produced a stunning double save to keep out Sheehan and then Antoni Sarcevic as Ian Evatt’s men looked to make their dominance count.
The goal did come, and it came six minutes into the second half through Gethin Jones who burst forward from the right-hand side to latch onto a pass and fire a low shot past the despairing dive of Mathew Hudson, Ripley's half-time replacement in the Preston goal.
Hudson was called into action again shortly afterwards to acrobatically tip the ball over the bar and deny Dapo Afolayan’s goal bound attempt.
Midway through the second half, North End made ten changes and it gave them fresh impetus to put Wanderers under a spell of pressure as they searched for an equalising goal.
Ched Evans was the focal point for Frankie McAvoy’s side in the latter stages with balls into the box aimed towards him, but Wanderers put in an excellent defensive display and ultimately held on for the clean sheet and the victory – the third pre-season victory out of four matches and the most impressive one so far.
Preston North End: Ripley (Hudson 46), Van den Berg (Lindsay 67), Bauer (Hughes 67), Earl (Storey 67), Rafferty (Cunningham 67), Bayliss (Whiteman 67), Baxter (Walker 39) (Mawene 67), Leigh (Ledson 67), Potts (Barkhuizen 67), Sinclair (Riis 67), Maguire (Evans 67).
Unused Subs: N/A.
Bolton Wanderers: Dixon, Jones (Brockbank 63), Almeida Santos (Aimson 68), Baptiste (Senior 75), Gordon, Sheehan (Thomason 66), Williams, Sarcevic (Tutte 68), Amaechi (Delfouneso 21), Afolayan (Darcy 66), Bakayoko (Conway 75).
Unused Sub: Hutchinson.
Goal: Jones (51)