Wanderers’ development squad continued their excellent pre-season form with a hard-earned 1-1 draw against FC United of Manchester at Bower Fold.
Conor Wilkinson had given the Whites a deserved first half lead with a smartly taken goal, but Matthew Walwyn drew the scores level shortly after the restart with a close range effort.
Despite both sides pushing for a winning goal late on and enjoying a number of chances to snatch the victory, the game ended all square.
The clash started brightly with the hosts dominating proceedings inside the opening minutes, but it was to be Wanderers who fashioned the first notable chance of the game as Tom Youngs played an inch perfect pass downfield into the feet of Chris Lester who teed up Wilkinson, but the forward was denied by some last ditch FC United defending.
Having spared their blushes, the hosts were almost undone from the resulting corner as Cian Bolger rose to meet the ball, but the towering defender failed to get the direction needed behind his header which floated just wide of the post.
After withstanding a tirade of Bolton pressure, FC United almost punished Jamie Fullarton’s side as Lee Neville found himself in acres of space inside the area, but he failed to test Jay Lynch in the Wanderers net.
Following a frantic opening ten minutes the tempo of the game dropped somewhat, but each team still showed their prowess on the counter with a number of attacks that ultimately came to nothing.
Youngs in particular was proving to be a thorn in FC United’s side, with the striker showcasing some impressive speed and footwork that left the home side stunned.
With Wanderers looking the team in the ascendancy, the deadlock was finally broken as Youngs fed the ball through to Wilkinson who calmly rounded keeper James Spencer to give the Whites the lead in the 19th minute.
It was no more than Bolton deserved given their dominance, but their hard work was almost undone immediately after the restart as Ollie Banks fired the ball into a crowded Bolton penalty area, but the ball thankfully drifted wide.
Not to be deterred however, the midfielder came within inches of netting an equaliser a quarter of the way through the clash with his superbly lofted free-kick, but Lynch was alert to tip the ball over the crossbar and maintain the Whites lead.
The chances appeared to rejuvenate the hosts as they piled on the pressure, but Wanderers stood firm and nearly doubled their lead against the run of play after a poor back pass from Tom Davies was almost capitalised on by the Bolton goal scorer, but Spencer was quick to deny Wilkinson the opportunity to add to his tally.
Having already proven his ability earlier in the game, Banks again went within inches of pulling FC United back into the match just five minutes short of half time with a scorching shot from just outside the area, but Lynch made an outstanding save to deny him and ensure that the Whites went into the break a goal to the good.
As the second half got underway it was clear that the hosts were a team on a mission, and their persistence paid dividends just seven minutes after the restart as substitute Walwyn poked the ball home from close range after a goalmouth scramble to bring FC United back onto level terms.
The striker almost snatched the lead for his side just after the hour mark with a dangerous curling shot into the area, but Wanderers’ captain Bolger was on hand to nod the ball to safety.
Despite finding themselves under pressure, Bolton almost responded in emphatic fashion immediately after as Jan Gregus unleashed a goal bound shot from just outside the penalty area, but Banks was to be FC United’s saviour as he blocked the ball with his face.
With both sides pushing to find the elusive winner there was goalmouth action aplenty in the final quarter of the game, but neither team were able to find any real penetration in their attacks as the clock ticked down.
Sanmi Odelusi looked to have restored Bolton’s lead with 15 minutes left after he connected with Gregus’ out-swinging corner, but the substitute FC United goalkeeper pulled off a superb reflex save to deny the winger.
With time running out both sides gave their all in a bid to snatch the victory with Walwyn again going close for FC United and Lester making a nuisance of himself in the home side’s area, but the game ultimately ended all square.
Fullarton’s side will be hoping to extend their fine form of late when they are next in action against Chester FC on Saturday afternoon, kick off 3pm.
FC United: Spencer (Worsley, 45), Brownhill (Worsnop, 45), Neville (Hibbert, 69), Fitzgerald (Rodriguez, 45), Davies, Raglan (Lacy, 69), Wolfenden, Banks, Norton (Giggs, 45), Daniels (Cheetham, 45), Mullholland (Walwyn, 45)
Subs not used: Tierney
Wanderers: Lynch, White, Kellett, Holding, Bolger, Gregus, Lester, Kelly, Wilkinson, Youngs (Iliev, 62), Odelusi
Subs not used: Gibson, Ferrier