Wanderers’ development squad kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 1-0 victory over Skelmersdale United at the West Lancashire College Stadium.
Josh Vela’s penalty kick shortly after halftime proved to be the difference between the two sides in a hotly contested clash in which last season’s Evo-Stik Division One North champions tested Jay Lynch on a number of occasions, but the Whites held out for the win.
Skelmersdale had started brightly, enjoying the majority of possession before Rob Makintosh headed over from close range in the fourth minute with the goal at his mercy.
Wanderers responded almost immediately however, with Sanmi Odelusi’s powerful run down the wing and subsequent cross deserving more.
Morgan Ferrier made his first impression on the game shortly after as he turned his man in the area, but Zak Hibbert was equal to his scorching half volley to keep the scores level.
With both sides having enjoyed chances during the opening ten minutes a goal appeared to be imminent, with Skelmersdale looking the team in the ascendancy as Gary Burnett and Kevin Leadbitter proved themselves a nuisance with the Wanderers defence.
The Whites were given a major let-off soon after, Kenny Strickland’s curling free-kick being tipped onto the crossbar by the fingertips of Lynch.
Burnett looked to have given the hosts the lead in the 19th minute after he turned his man in the area and fired goalbound, but Lynch managed to push the ball around the post for a corner.
There was to be no respite for Wanderers however as Dale Wright met the resulting ball with a scorching header, only to see it saved by the legs of the Bolton keeper.
Having weathered the storm, Jamie Fullarton’s men found their feet as Gary Fraser curled a shot at Hibbert from the edge of the area, but the Skelmersdale keeper was equal to it.
The hosts’ right-back Mike Simspon was next to test Lynch from close range, but his shot was pushed around the post.
Skelmersdale looked certain to take the lead just after the half hour mark following a counterattack, but Burnett failed to keep his shot down under pressure from three Wanderers defenders.
Chances became few and far between as the half drew to its conclusion, with another Burnett shot flying just wide of the post being the most notable action of the final minutes.
The opening stages of the second half were a little lacklustre, but Wanderers finally broke the deadlock in the 50th minute after Tom Youngs was fouled in the area.
The referee had no hesitation as she pointed to the spot, with Josh Vela calmly slotting the ball past Hibbert.
Despite the goal coming slightly against the run of play, it appeared to breed confidence amongst the Whites with the likes of Odelusi and Tom Walker forcing their way inside the Skelmersdale penalty area soon after.
With the game seemingly dropping in tempo however, Michael Kennedy brought it back to life with a thunderous shot that crashed against the crossbar with Lynch simply a spectator.
As the clock ticked down, the hosts pushed in search of an equaliser, with Simpson just failing to get enough power behind his header from close range and Warren Bellue firing wide from distance.
The frustration on the faces of the Skelmersdale team was clear to see having spurned a number of gilt-edged changes to pull themselves level and Odelusi almost compounded their misery on the stroke of full time after good work from Youngs, but Hibbert reacted quickly to scoop the ball to safety.
Despite a late rally from Skelmersdale in injury time, the Whites held out for the victory. Fullarton’s side will next be in action against Chorley at Victory Park on Friday evening.
Wanderers: Lynch, White (Bolger, 82), Riley (Holding, 70), Threlkeld, Kellett, Vela (Kelly,65), Fraser, Walker (Newby, 65), Odelusi, Youngs, Ferrier.
Skelmersdale United: Hibbert, Simpson, Holden, Hardwick, Mackintosh, Wright (Kennedy, 64), Hughes, Strickland, Burnett, Leadbitter, Bellue.