Bolton Wanderers’ development squad suffered an unfortunate defeat to Manchester United despite their valiant display in their Manchester Senior Cup clash on Thursday night.
After taking the lead through Ben Hampson, Wanderers saw the entire complexion of the game altered in the space of five minutes as late goals from Nick Powell and Federico Macheda secured the victory for Warren Joyce’s side.
The first half was starved of clear opportunities for both sides with the encounter being mainly contested in midfield.
After an influential start from Powell, the young midfielder nearly broke the deadlock in the ninth minute. Clever interplay in short space around the edge of the area resulted in Powell receiving the ball just inside the box before he lashed an effort that flew just over the bar.
Bolton nearly found the net after a brief stroke of luck three minutes later. United failed to deal with a ball played from deep by Glenn Matthews which allowed Michael O’Halloran space in behind the backline. The Scot was brought down outside the area before Gregg Wylde reacted well and drilled a low effort that United goalkeeper Sam Johnstone did well to block from close range.
The clearest chance of the half fell to United 29 minutes into the tie. Constant pressure from the home side saw Jesse Lingard find room to slip a perfectly weighted ball through the Bolton defence to Macheda. The striker lacked composure as he dragged his poor effort wide of the net.
The closest either side came to opening the scoring was when Johnstone caught a 25-yard free-kick from Wylde in the 31st minute – epitomising the lack of opportunities that the game offered following Macheda’s wasteful attempt.
The second half was a total contrast to the first period as United could have considered themselves unlucky not to take the lead early on.
A corner whipped in by Larnell Cole found its way through the first wave of attackers and defenders at the near post before reaching Michael Keane. The defender showed good reflexes to control the ball well before hitting a half-volley that Alex McQuade heroically threw himself in the way of to keep the score locked at 0-0.
United maintained their pressure and the impressive Powell nearly scored in stunning circumstances less than a minute later. The midfielder struck a soaring shot from 35 yards that was destined for the top corner before Lewis Fielding leapt across goal to palm the danger away.
The home side will have been furious with their inability to hit the target as Wanderers made their first chance of the second half count.
A corner curled in towards the far post by Wylde was met by a rising Hampson, the defender powered in an unstoppable header past Johnstone to put the Whites into the lead in the 58th minute.
After a resilient showing from Bolton in the following 20 minutes they were unfortunate to see the score levelled by Powell.
A cross from the right flank by the energetic Cole was met by the towering youngster who nodded past Fielding to grab the equaliser in the 78th minute.
Powell’s goal swung the momentum of the match in United’s favour as they pressed for the winner.
Unfortunately for Wanderers, United found what proved to be decider in the 83rd minute as Cole was the provider for the home side yet again.
The winger fired in a low cross that Macheda initially struggled to control before the Italian spun and rifled an attempt from 8 yards out that flew past Fielding and into the top-left corner of the net.
Wanderers were nearly dealt what would have been a very harsh blow with five minutes remaining as Cole nearly found his way onto the scoresheet.
The midfielder received possession on the edge of the area before shifting the ball onto his left foot and smashing a vicious strike that rattled the crossbar.
Bolton admirably continued to fight for the elusive goal to take the tie to penalties before Barry Lamb called time on a commendable performance from the Whites.
Manchester United: Johnstone, Veseli, McGinty, Thorpe, Keane, Fornasier, Cole, Tunnicliffe, Macheda, Powell, Lingard (Unused subs: Sutherland, Januzaj, Blackett, James, Barmby)
Wanderers: Fielding, Hampson (Maher, 79), Matthews, McQuade, Threlkeld, Blakeman, Lester, McKee, Odelusi (Iliev, 82), O’Halloran, Wylde (Unused subs: Ole Sievers, Wolstenholme, Woodland)