Bolton 3 Espanyol 0
Date: Thursday 2nd August 2007After a string of disappointing pre-season results (aside from narrowly beating some pub team from the Wirral) including a defeat against Lyon and a hammering from Hibs, it was good to see Bolton put in a commanding performance against Uefa Cup finalists Espanyol. Shame the same couldn't be said of the staff manning the kiosks in the concourses. Who, after 15 minutes of waiting for a potato and meat pie to cook, told me they'd actually run out, at 7.15. Despite a new manager, a new backroom staff, and 10 new signings, it still appears that some things will never change. Still, eventually a potato and meat pie was found and all was well with the world as I made my way to my seat to hear the team being read out. After sitting out last weekend’s visit to Prenton Park, both Abdoulaye Faye and Nicolas Anelka returned to the line up, hopefully quashing any lasting speculation over either players immediate future at the club. That relief was pretty short lived however as 6 minutes into the first half, a lofted freekick into the box caught the defence napping, and only Jussi Jaaskelainen’s reflexes kept Raul Tamudo from putting the visitors in the lead with a glancing header. After all the talk of Bolton needing a midfielder not afraid to spray the ball out from midfield, very few if any would've imagined that Abdoulaye Faye could do such a role. But the big man from Senegal showed he had much more in his locker than brute force as he first picked out Diouf with a beautiful cross field pass that would've made Hierro jealous, before curling an even better cross to pick out Vaz Te for the opening goal. The Portuguese starlet, still only 20 years old, showed no fear in dodging a high boot from an Espanyol defender as he stooped to direct the ball past Iraizoz. At this point it was all the home side, as Little Sam’s policies began to bear fruit. Diouf sent Vaz Te sprinting away down the right flank, only on this occaison Vaz Te showed that he still has some way to go, as he ran out of ideas and then flopped lamely to the turf. He did return the favour minutes later to put Danny Guthrie though down the same side, as the Liverpool wide man failed to find the finish to cap off a beautiful move which included a one two from the rather bulky looking Diouf. The away side never really looked like threatening other than on crosses, and so it proved as Garcia got the wrong side of the otherwise solid Meite to force a brilliant save from Jaaskelainen to keep his side in the lead. There was also brief panic when everybody bar Samuel piled forward for a corner which was subsequently turned into a counter attack from the Spaniards, but the ex Villa man showed good positional sense to force the man out wide and allow for the rest of the defence to get back as the attack petered out into nothing. But our lead was then soon doubled from what the media would tell you was a classic Bolton goal. Sinclair’s long throw was flicked on by Davies before being neatly tucked away by Vaz Te for his third goal in two games and to cap off what had been a very impressive and entertaining first half from the hosts. Both teams returned for the second half with Bolton especially having completed a raft of changes, Anelka, Nolan, Alonso and Al Habsi, who were also joined by Jamieson, Michalik, Helguson and Speed not long after. With all those changes the rhythm of the second half was much more disrupted and our attacks became less fluent. But Mikel Alonso still managed to assert himself on the game, his first touch being a majestic through ball which completely opened up the Espanyol defence and sent the also impressive Samuel marauding down the wing. He then repeated that feat moments later as he this time sent Anelka running through on goal, but the enigmatic Frenchman saw his shot well saved, though he really should've scored, a frustration that would be further added too later in the game, when he got onto the end of another through ball, this time from Nolan, only to bamboozle the last defender but shoot tamely into the keepers arms. At the other end the changes in defence saw an inexperienced back line that included Sinclair, Michalik, Jamieson and Al Habsi, which left for some nervous moments in the second half where Espanyol nearly got themselves back into the game. But the experienced Campo showed great agility to clear a Raul Tamudo effort that looked destined for the net. The game did have one final flourish though as shortly after the uninspired looking Helguson was replaced by Gavin McCann, a poorly cleared free kick left Anelka the time to chip a ball into the box which allowed Gary Speed to burst in unmarked to head home a deserved third goal for Bolton. All in all a good run out for the lads, and the crowd of 6,500 wasn't too bad for a midweek friendly. I'm sure all who were there went home happy with what they saw. Especially the continued re-emergence of Ricardo Vaz Te, and the stellar passing display that was put on by Mikel Alonso in the second half. 3-0 was probably a fair result, though it was good to see us create plenty of chances alongside our goals.