Tranmere Rovers eased to a comfortable 5-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at Prenton Park, with goals from Ollie Banks, a double from Morgan Ferrier, Connor Jennings and Stefan Payne.
The emphatic victory gave Rovers their first points of the League One season against a young Bolton side containing just two senior outfield players.
The youngsters have been thrown in at the deep end due to the club’s financial problems, but they performed admirably despite suffering a heavy defeat.
They offered a resilient back line to keep Rovers out in the early stages, as Micky Mellon’s men began strongly and looked to break the deadlock in the opening exchanges.
Ollie Banks was denied by Wanderers goalkeeper Remi Matthews after three minutes, the midfielder’s cross from the left almost creeping into the top corner had it not been for the shot-stopper’s fingertips to turn the ball around the frame of the goal.
Full-back Kane Wilson demonstrated a keenness to bomb forward down the right and he was next to offer an effort on goal, failing to make the goalkeeper work as he skewed his shot well wide.
Matthews was being kept busy, and he had to be at his best to deny Kieron Morris after the winger cut inside and fired a powerful low driven effort on goal.
The breakthrough finally arrived with seven minutes of the first half remaining.
Banks received the ball from Morris on the right side of the penalty area and he rocketed an unstoppable shot past Matthews to give Tranmere the advantage.
The lead was soon doubled as summer signing Morgan Ferrier netted his first goal in a Rovers shirt. The ball dropped kindly for the former Walsall man, following a right wing corner, and he took his chance by slotting the ball into the bottom corner.
The hosts visibly grew in confidence and they wouldn’t have wanted the half time whistle to have come when it did.
But little did it matter, as they got their third just seconds after the restart.
Ferrier did all the work himself, working a shooting opportunity as he nutmegged his marker before slamming the ball home from 12 yards for his second of the afternoon.
Foot firmly on the gas, Rovers went looking for further goals as the young Bolton side’s early resilience had been well and truly broken.
Morris was the creator once more as his pass across the penalty area found Connor Jennings who had the simple task of firing home from eight yards.
Paul Mullin, who had earlier replaced Ferrier in attack, was the architect of the fifth and final goal of the game.
The forward cut inside from the left and hit a goalbound effort which struck fellow substitute Stefan Payne en route, the ball diverting and wrong-footing the unlucky Matthews.
A comfortable win but an important one. After three defeats to start the campaign, it was vital that three points were collected today, and the team put in a good performance to make sure they were picked up with some style.
More difficult tests are to come, Tuesday at Bristol Rovers for starters, but at least Rovers can take the confidence from a good display and three points on the board when they travel to The Memorial Stadium in midweek.