Bolton Wanderers XI were defeated 5-1 by Australian outfit Melbourne City in a pre-season friendly at the County Ground on Wednesday evening.
In a sprightly first period, Wanderers opened the scoring early on through Conor Wilkinson who capitalised on a mistake by Melbourne goalkeeper Tando Velaphi, ensuring that the shot-stopper’s attempted clearance rebounded off him into the net.
The visitors were soon level however, with Patrick Kisnorbo pulling City level 15 minutes later before further goals from David Williams and Aaron Mooy ensured a two goal advantage at the half time break.
Following the restart, Wanderers pushed to reduce the deficit but the A-League outfit had a fourth with 20 minutes of the half gone as James Brown, with only the keeper to beat, fired home, and it was five shortly after as Mate Dugandzic slotted the ball past Fitzsimons.
The visitors started brightly in the Leyland sunshine, with Iain Ramsey proving his worth inside the opening minutes of the clash with a number of powerful runs in on goal and a shot which narrowly flew over the crossbar.
With Wanderers having been forced to withstand pressure early on, their luck was about to change with five minutes on the clock as Wilkinson chased down a loose ball, pressuring the Melbourne keeper Velaphi and ensuring that his attempted clearance somehow rebounded off him into the net.
A goal to the good, the hosts almost found themselves two up a matter of minutes later as Tom Youngs found Yannick Bastos following a mazy run through the heart of the Melbourne defence, but the midfielder was muscled out just as he was about to strike.
Not to be deterred however, City rediscovered some of their early vigour and were rewarded with 20 minutes on the clock as Kisnorbo powerfully volleyed home past Ross Fitzsimons from a corner kick to bring the A-League outfit back onto level terms.
A strike assisted by former Wanderer Aaron Mooy who deployed the set-piece, the leveller was almost wiped out immediately as Wilkinson nearly forced Velaphi into yet another mistake after chasing the ball downfield, but the keeper had his blushes spared and cleared his lines.
Damien Duff went close to completing the turnaround for Melbourne with 25 minutes gone as he slipped his marker and made a run into the box, only to be denied by a smart save from Fitzsimons.
Just two minutes later however, the Australian side were in front as David Williams fired the ball home from close range through a crowded Bolton area.
It was almost three with 32 minutes on the clock as Mate Dugandzic found himself in space just outside the area, but the Melbourne man’s effort flew wide of the upright.
Wanderers’ relief was short-lived however as Mooy came back to haunt his former employers with a curling shot past Fitzsimons with ten minutes of the half remaining to extend Melbourne’s advantage.
The Whites did push to reduce the deficit as the half drew to its conclusion, but Bastos’ cross was easily dealt with by Velaphi to ensure that Melbourne’s two goal advantage remained at the break.
Having finished strongly, the visitors peppered the Bolton goal with efforts inside the opening few minutes of the second period including an audacious shot from Nick Kalmar which drifted harmlessly wide of Fitzsimons’ upright.
With a brace of changes for either side at the break, including a change of keeper for Melbourne and the introduction of Zach Clough for Wanderers, Mooy almost had his second of the game with ten minutes of the half gone but saw his stinging shot held by Fitzsimons.
The hosts looked comfortable in possession, but were failing to really trouble the Bolton keeper with substitute James Brown’s tame shot being comfortably dealt with just short of the hour mark.
The tempo of the clash appeared to have dropped in comparison to the first half, but Melbourne’s lead was soon extended as Brown found himself in space on the edge of the box before slotting the ball past the advancing Fitzsimons.
A double attacking substitution of Chris Lester and Georg Iliev ensured that Wanderers weren’t going down without a fight, but it was soon five as Williams turned provider, playing the ball into the path of Mate Dugandzic who had the simple task of slotting the ball home from a matter of yards out.
Clough came within inches of notching a consolation for Wanderers with five minutes remaining as his free-kick crashed against the post and almost rebounded into the net off the body of the Melbourne keeper, but the ball somehow stayed out as the deficit remained at four at the full time whistle.
BWFC XI: Fitzsimons, White, Sellers, Taylor, Bolger, Threlkeld (Trialist 46), Bastos (Lester 65), Vela, Wilkinson (Iliev 65), Trotter (Clough 46), Youngs (Walker 74)
Subs not used: Holding, Woodland
Melbourne City: Velaphi (Redmaybe 46), Wielaert, Mooy, Ramsay, Murdocca, Duff (Brown 46), Williams, Hoffman, Kalmar (Melling 68), Dugandzic (Davies 74), Kisnorbo
Subs not used: Chantler, Archibald, Retre, Poole