A youthful Wanderers side recorded a 1-1 draw against Macclesfield Town at Moss Rose on Friday evening.
The hosts had opened the scoring inside the first period courtesy of Chris Holroyd’s strike, but substitute Zach Clough was to have the final word as he drilled home an equalising goal nine minutes from time to ensure that the clash ended all square.
With Moss Rose bathed in sunshine, both sides made a bright start to proceedings with Chris Lester’s powerful run down the flank run narrowly eluding the advancing Georg Iliev and latterly Joe Riley.
Comfortable in defence, Wanderers looked the more threatening team early on in the clash with Craig Davies and Darren Pratley linking up well with eight minutes gone, only for the Macclesfield keeper to scoop the ball to safety.
Oscar Threlkeld look set to provide the perfect pass three minutes later as, following a well taken touch on the far side, the youngster whipped the ball across the face of goal, but his effort somehow managed to evade anyone inside the Macclesfield box.
The Silkmen had barely managed to get out of their own half of the pitch inside the opening 15 minutes of the game, and Iliev almost punished them with 18 minutes gone as he collected Pratley’s threaded through-ball, but the young striker’s first touch let him down and the keeper collected.
Despite their lack of goalmouth action, the hosts almost took the lead in some style with a curling long range effort, but the Macclesfield man saw his shot rebound off the woodwork with Ross Fitzsimons beaten.
The chance appeared to buoy the home side, and they proceeded to take the lead against the run of play as Chris Holroyd bundled his way through the Bolton defence, collecting the ball after it rebounded off Cian Bolger, before firing past the Whites’ keeper with 22 minutes gone.
A shock to the system for Wanderers, the Silkmen were visibly boosted by their goal and began to pepper the Bolton goal with shots and pressure including a looping effort which forced Fitzsimons into a smart save.
Bolton themselves however still looked to be a threat on the counter attack, with the pace of Lester putting Macclesfield under pressure as the half drew to its conclusion but his determination was in vain as the hosts held on to lead at the break.
Wanderers started well inside the opening stages of the second period, with Lester’s looping ball narrowly eluding the goalmouth and nestling on top of the net.
Macclesfield themselves looked eager to extend their lead, and were only denied by a well-timed tackle from Dorian Dervite who calmly collected the ball and cleared it to safety.
Tom Youngs, a half time substitute for fellow academy graduate Iliev, attempted to fire Wanderers level in style with 58 minutes gone, but the youngster’s swivel and volley flew wide of the upright.
Dougie Freedman introduced development squad regulars Yannick Bastos and Zach Clough shortly after the hour mark in a bid to bring Wanderers level in the clash, with the latter’s mazy run from midfield moments after entering the field worthy of more.
Davies also enjoyed an opportunity to equalise shortly after as he powered into the Macclesfield penalty area, but the frontman’s powerful shot was well held by Ritchie Branagan.
With the clock ticking down, the Whites threw men forward in search of a goal and threw Conor Wilkinson into the mix, fresh from his goal against Bamber Bridge for BWFC XI last weekend.
The decision to introduce the young striker paid dividends with nine minutes to go as the frontman powered down the left flank before laying the ball off for Clough who fired past Branagan to level the scores.
Both sides pushed for a winner as the game drew to its conclusion, but neither could break the deadlock further as the clash ended all square.
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Riley (Sellars 80), Dervite, Bolger, Threlkeld, Vela, Medo (White 77), Pratley (Clough 64), Iliev (Youngs, 46), Lester (Bastos 64), C Davies (Wilkinson 77)
Subs: Campbell, Woodland, Holding, Maher, Knight, Walker, Hughes, Mills, Moxey, Feeney, Spearing, Beckford