Tranmere Rovers 1-1 Bolton Wanderers

  • July 25, 2014 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton's preparations for the new season continued on Friday night, as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Tranmere Rovers at Prenton Park.

Since starting their pre-season schedule with a series of friendlies in Scandinavia two weeks ago, Wanderers went into the game on the back of two wins, two draws and one defeat.

They led for a long period of time against their fierce rivals from Merseyside, thanks to Jay Spearing's first-half opener, but Rovers earned a draw as Elliot Richards came off the bench to equalise 16 minutes from time.

Wanderers boss Dougie Freedman made four changes to the side that won at Rochdale on Tuesday night, with Dorian Dervite, Darren Pratley, Mark Davies and Craig Davies taking the places of Tim Ream, Medo Kamara, Liam Feeney and Robert Hall - the latter of whom missed the game through illness.

The visitors had the better of the first-half at Prenton Park and came close to breaking the deadlock twice inside the opening 10 minutes, with Craig Davies seeing shots blocked on both occasions.

Tranmere's first chance of the game arrived on 13 minutes, but Andy Lonergan made a comfortable save to keep out Jason Koumas' deflected strike.

Bolton were back on the attack at the midway stage of the half, as a neat move involving Mark Davies and Beckford ended with Darren Pratley firing over the crossbar from inside the box.

Mark Davies was next to try his luck, curling a shot goalwards on 26 minutes, but Owain Fon Williams got down well to parry the shot from 25-yards.

With temperatures exceeding 25 degrees, referee Chris Foy granted both sides a cooling break at the half-hour mark. Once play had resumed, Wanderers were the first team to push forward - with Craig Davies a matter of inches away from connecting with a Beckford cross.

Then, with 37 minutes played, the deadlock was broken. Spearing, formerly of Liverpool, played a one-two with Craig Davies before drilling the ball past Fon Williams from 25 yards to put the visitors in front.

Rovers should have been level within three minutes, but Kayode Odejayi somehow headed over Lonergan's crossbar from just two yards.

The final chance of the half fell the way of Wanderers, as Matt Mills got up well to connect with a free-kick from Spearing, but Fon Williams reacted well to tip his powerful header over the bar - ensuring the score remained at 1-0 going into the break.

There were three changes to the Bolton side at the start of the second-half, as Feeney, Conor Wilkinson and Joe Riley came on for Mark Davies, Beckford and Kevin McNaughton.

Both teams had early shooting opportunities at the start of the second period, with trialist Gerardo Bruna coming close for the hosts, while a long-range strike from Riley flashed wide of the post at the other end.

Wilkinson fired narrowly wide on 55 minutes, before Bruna continued to prove why he may be worth a permanent deal at Prenton Park as he brought a fine save out of Lonergan.

Lee Chung-Yong came on for Craig Davies shortly after the hour, marking his first appearance of pre-season, before Tim Ream replaced Spearing in midfield for the final 20 minutes.

From that moment on, Tranmere upped the pressure and came close to equalising on two separate occasions - as Danny Holmes curled wide, before Cole Stockton was denied by another fine save from Lonergan.

Despite his best efforts, Lonergan was beaten with 16 minutes to go and, in truth, it was the least Tranmere deserved for their second-half display - with Richards coming off the bench to bundle the ball over the line from close range.

A free-kick from Wilkinson brought a good low stop out of Fon Williams in the dying stages, but, from the moment Rovers levelled, the game was always going to end in a stalemate - as both sides were made to settle for a 1-1 draw.

With just two weeks to go until the start of the new Football League season, Wanderers return to action on Wednesday evening when they face Port Vale at Vale Park. Their final pre-season friendly arrives four days later, when they host Vitesse Arnhem at the newly-rebranded Macron Stadium.

Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams, Woodards (Gumbs 80), Ihiekwe (McDonald 58), Holness, Touray (Holmes 58), Rowe, Power (Gill 58), Koumas (Stockton 63), Baggie, Odejayi (Richards 63), Kirby
Subs Not Used: Bruna, Ramsbottom
Goals: Richards 74

Bolton Wanderers: Lonergan, McNaughton (Riley 46), Moxey, Mills, Dervite, Spearing (Ream 69), Danns (Youngs 81), Pratley (Kamara 56), M Davies (Feeney 46), Beckford (Wilkinson 46), C Davies (Chung-Yong 63)
Subs Not Used: Fitzsimons, White, Lester, Bolger
Goals: Spearing 37

Referee: Chris Foy

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Sky Bet League Two Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
1 Cheltenham Town 40 72
2 Cambridge United 41 71
3 Bolton Wanderers 41 70
4 Morecambe 41 66
5 Tranmere Rovers 41 65
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