Bolton left it late to maintain their unbeaten record in pre-season in a 1-1 draw with non-league side FC United of Manchester, with George Johnston scoring a last-minute equaliser.
Wanderers fell behind almost instantly after half time after defender Joel Dixon was robbed inside his own penalty area and duly punished, with Ian Evatt ultimately satisfied to see his side avoid an embarrassing defeat to a team four divisions below them in the English pyramid system.
The 39-year-old endured a tough start after leaving Barrow for Greater Manchester last summer before guiding the club to third place and promotion to League One as a result, with heavy squad turnover understandably taking time to prove fruitful.
The former Blackpool defender will be expected to guide Bolton away from safety as a bare minimum expectation in the coming campaign, with an outside stab at reaching the playoffs not out of the question if they can start well.
Tuesday’s test against Preston, who are regarded as a stable mid-table Championship outfit, will be a very useful one in establishing what level they are truly at.
Indeed, since being promoted from League One in 2015, Preston have not finished lower than 14th in the table, although failing to reach the playoffs even once has proven frustrating for the Lilywhites’ fanbase.
After replacing Alex Neil with Frankie McAvoy in the dugout in March, the 54-year-old’s initially temporary status was made permanent in May after winning five of his eight games in charge at the end of last season.
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A 1-1 draw against St Johnstone in their second pre-season match was backed up by a superb 1-0 victory at Scottish Premiership runners-up Celtic on Saturday, with midfielder Ben Whiteman scoring his second goal of the week.
As such, Preston should be ultra confident of recording a second straight victory against Bolton, as they look to target finally reaching the Championship playoffs in the coming campaign