Macclesfield Town 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • July 18, 2014 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's return to England ended in a stalemate, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Macclesfield Town at Moss Rose.

Wanderers had spent much of the last fortnight on a pre-season tour of Scandinavia, but were in action against non-league opposition less than 24 hours after returning to the country.

The Silkmen led for the majority of the game, courtesy of Chris Holroyd's 22nd minute opener, but Wanderers earned a draw nine minutes from time as Zach Clough latched on to a ball from Conor Wilkinson before firing past Richie Branagan.

Dougie Freedman named a completely different starting 11 to the side that was beaten at Mjallby AIF 48 hours earlier, with the likes of Ross Fitzsimons and Chris Lester being handed their first starts of pre-season. Joe Riley, Cian Bolger, Oscar Threlkeld, Josh Vela and Georg Iliev were also on the field from the off.

The visitors started brightly, with Lester looking particularly dangerous on the wing, but his early impact took a blow in the 10th minute when he was clattered by Branagan - son of former Wanderers goalkeeper, Keith, and a former trainee at the Macron Stadium.

He was back on his feet and in the thick of the action again, moments later, but his cross was cleared to safety after a neat move which also involved Vela and Threlkeld.

Bolger fired a first-time shot over the crossbar on the quarter-hour, before Iliev sliced horribly wide of the target after receiving the ball from a Vela corner.

Iliev was put clean through on goal on 20 minutes, but he failed to take Darren Pratley's pass in his stride and a heavy first touch saw the ball roll on through to Branagan.

Macclesfield struck a post with their first shot of the game, but they did have the ball in the net midway through the half as Holroyd broke through the Bolton defence before firing past Fitzsimons from the edge of the box.

Bolton were enjoying the lion's share of the possession, but were finding it difficult to break down the Macclesfield defence. With 10 minutes of the first half remaining, the ball flashed inches wide of the Wanderers post, while Fitzsimons was alert to tip over another strike from the next attack to ensure the score was kept at 1-0 going into the break.

Iliev was replaced by Tom Youngs at the start of the second period, as Freedman looked to give more of his youngsters a first-team opportunity in non-competitive action.

The opening quarter-hour after the restart was devoid of attacking action, with the game almost at the hour-mark before an opportunity came to fruition - as smart control, a turn and volley from Youngs came to nothing.

Clough and Yannick Bastos replaced Pratley and Lester in the 64th minute, moments before Craig Davies shot straight at Branagan after doing well to turn and shoot inside the box.

Branagan did well to claw away a dangerous cross from Riley with 15 minutes to go, before Clough was flagged for offside after shooting over the crossbar.

Then, with the game drawing to a close, Bolton drew themselves level as Clough took a pass from Wilkinson in his stride before firing low and hard into Branagan's bottom corner to earn a draw for the Trotters in their first domestic friendly of the summer.

Wanderers return to action on Tuesday evening, when they face Rochdale at Spotland.

Bolton Wanderers: Fitzsimons, Riley (Sellars 80), Dervite, Bolger, Threlkeld, Vela, Kamara (White 77), Pratley (Clough 64), Iliev (Youngs 46), Lester (Bastos 64), C Davies (Wilkinson 77)
Subs Not Used: Campbell, Mills, Moxey, Feeney, Spearing, Beckford, Woodland, Holding, Maher, Knight, Walker, Hughes
Goals: Clough 81

Attendance: 650

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