THE phoney war is finally over.

The next time York City suit up for battle, it will be for real and there were enough positives from this final pre-season friendly, a 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers, to suggest Gary Mills’ men will be fighting fit come Ebbsfleet on Saturday.

The City boss felt Saturday’s Bootham Crescent clash with the Trotters was a game too far and, particularly during the second half, there was a lot of truth in that.

But had his side been able to hit the target, they could have easily dispatched a youthful Bolton side.

Ashley Chambers spurned two great chances in the first half, while Josh Vela cleared a goalbound David McGurk header off the line in the second period.

All of which meant Bolton’s 61st-minute winner, scored by Michael O’Halloran, sent the Minstermen to their second, and final, defeat of the pre-season campaign.

Mills stressed afterwards that all that counted was the score at 5pm at Ebbsfleet but his team’s incisive play and superb movement at times can only be encouraging ahead of that Blue Square Bet Premier kick-off.

McGurk, fit again after a minor throat operation, partnered Jamal Fyfield at centre-half and, in attack, Ashley Chambers was restored to the starting line-up.

He had the first real chance of the game in the eighth minute and it took a great stop from Bolton ’keeper Rob Lainton to prevent City taking the lead.

Scott Kerr’s superb defence splitting pass set the forward clear and he bore down on goal before side-footing to his right, only to see Lainton react smartly to deny him.

City’s incursions were dangerous and it took until the 20th minute for the Trotters to reveal their attacking intent. But, when they did, they almost scored.

Tope Obadeyi grabbed the ball on the left side of the City area, it came back to Adam Blakeman who had a curling, dipping, shot which struck the underside of the crossbar with Michael Ingham beaten.

The Minstermen goalkeeper then held on well to Joe Riley’s deflected shot following a mazy run and, six minutes later, got his chest in the way of O’Halloran’s fierce drive.

But, just as Bolton appeared to be in the ascendancy, City hit straight back and only the referee prevented them taking the lead.

It was a lovely build-up involving Andre Boucaud and Jason Walker and, when the latter put in Chambers, he was on collision course with Lainton.

As the pair came together and Lainton blocked, Patrick McLaughlin passed the rebound into the net only for Billy Khatib to rule out the goal for Chambers’ alleged foul.

McLaughlin then played Walker in moments later, but Lainton saved well at his near post.

Perhaps City’s best chance came a shade before half-time.

Fyfield’s header fell to McLaughlin and his clever pass put Chambers in on the left. He bore down on goal but skewed it wide.

Ingham then came to the rescue with the first of two brilliant saves as the second half got into gear.

McLaughlin was judged to have handled Blakeman’s flick and, from the free-kick 20 yards out, Ingham was at full stretch to turn Joe Riley’s swerving set piece round the post.

City already looked to have less cutting edge than in the first period and Walker’s half-hearted effort to chip the ’keeper, after Tom Eckersley had slipped, drifted harmlessly wide.

Mills’ men were made to pay for for their profligacy with an hour gone. Jack Sampson looked to have given McGurk a shove but play went on and O’Halloran ran into the box, chased by Smith and Lanre Oyebanjo.

Smith was unlucky in trying to clear in the box, but the ball deflected off O’Halloran and dribbled into the net.

The game drifted towards its conclusion but Vela cleared off the line, with 11 minutes remaining, after McGurk headed Smith’s flick-on towards the top corner.

And Reed mis-hit a golden chance high over the bar after substitute Liam Henderson dummied Chambers’ cross.

The final say went to Ingham, who produced a magnificent save to deny Sampson with two minutes left.

The Bolton striker hit it high towards the centre of the net after O’Halloran’s run left Meredith trailing and Smith flailing through a tackle.

His pass left was dispatched by Sampson but Ingham somehow made up the ground to palm the ball away.

A fantastic save. Next week it will matter.

York City: Ingham, Oyebanjo, McGurk, Fyfield (Smith, 53), Meredith, Kerr (Potts, 56), Boucaud, McLaughlin (Henderson, 75), Moké (Blair, 65), Walker (Reed, 65), Chambers.

Subs not used: Musselwhite, Parslow.

Bolton Wanderers: Lainton, Riley, Eckersley, Connolly, McQuade (Kellett, 83), Threlkeld (Lynch, 59), Blakeman, Vela, Obadeyi (Odelusi, 59), Sampson, O’Halloran.

Subs not used: Irwin, Fazlic, McGregor, Proudfoot, Dennis.

Referee: Billy Khatib (Sunderland).

Attendance: 1,416 (19 away supporters).