A penalty apiece ensured that Wanderers’ Under 21 side secured a hard earned point against Middlesbrough with a 1-1 draw at the Reebok Stadium.
Sanmi Odelusi had opened the scoring shortly after half time from the spot, but the Whites were denied their first victory of the season as the visitors were awarded a penalty of their own late on in the game which Ben Gibson duly converted.
Wanderers had started the game brightly, Tom Eaves dragging his shot just wide inside the opening stages of the clash and announcing his arrival to the Middlesbrough defence with a number of well-timed runs into the area.
The striker almost handed the Whites the lead after connecting with Josh Vela’s lofty free-kick moments later, but Jayson Leutwiler was quick to scoop the ball to safety.
A goal looked to be imminent in the 19th minute as Odelusi played the ball into the path of the advancing Andy Kellett who whipped in a lethal cross, but the Boro defence were quick to clear the ball behind for a corner.
Tom Youngs did have the ball in the back of the net soon after as he powered past a hoard of Middlesbrough defenders, but the centre forward was to be denied by the assistant referee’s flag as he was deemed to be marginally offside.
Having withstood a tirade of Wanderers pressure inside the opening half hour, David Atkinson ensured that Andrew Lonergan was kept on his toes in the Bolton goal with a long range effort, but the ball sailed just over the crossbar.
The Whites almost responded in emphatic fashion moments later as Chris Lester found himself in on goal, but the winger couldn’t get the direction needed on his shot as Leutwiler completed a run-of-the-mill save.
As the half drew to its conclusion, Lester was proving himself a nuisance down the right flank with a number of dangerous crosses into the area, but Leutwiler did well to react and deny the advancing Wanderers strike force.
Having been a thorn in Boro’s side all evening, Odelusi went within inches of handing the Whites the lead on the stroke of half time as he hit a half volley from just outside the area, but the winger’s shot crashed against the post with the keeper beaten.
With Middlesbrough struggling to gain a foothold in the game, it seemed only a matter of time before Wanderers’ dominance paid dividends and Odelusi duly obliged in the 51st minute as he broke free of the Boro defence, only to be brought down by Leutwiler in the area.
Having won the spot kick, the winger then proceeded to calmly convert the penalty to hand Bolton a deserved lead.
The frustration amongst the Boro team was clear to see, with Cameron Park’s long range strike over Lonergan’s crossbar the most notable chance from the visitors inside the opening hour of the game.
Despite finding themselves with more possession in the second period than they had in the first, the visitors were still struggling to break down a resilient Wanderers’ backline who were dealing with any pressure with apparent ease.
Having just been introduced into the fold, Wilson Kneeshaw almost made an immediate impact as Jordan Jones played the ball into the feet of the unmarked youngster, but Lonergan did well to deny him from close range.
As the clock ran down, the visitors threw everything forward in search of a goal and were given the opportunity to equalise in the 83rd minute after Vela had fouled Luke Williams in the area.
Despite the protestations of the Wanderers’ number six, the referee was unmoved and Ben Gibson converted the spot kick to bring Boro level.
Both sides enjoyed opportunities to snatch a winning goal as the game entered its final stages, but the clash ended all square.
Wanderers: Lonergan, White, Kellett, Threlkeld, Bolger, Vela, Lester (Iliev, 79), Gregus, Eaves, Youngs (Wilkinson, 65), Odelusi
Subs not used: Campbell, Matthews, Kelly
Middlesbrough: Leutwiler, Atkinson (Burn, 77), Jackson, Gibson, Melling, Morris, Williams, Smallwood, Wyke (Jones, 68), Halliday (Kneeshaw, 72), Park
Subs not used: Sirrell, Fryer