Two goals apiece from Sanmi Odelusi and Zach Clough sealed a 4-2 win for Bolton Wanderers over Barnsley in the U21 Premier League Cup.
The Whites led 2-0 after 19 minutes courtesy of a brace from Odelusi, however Barnsley hit back through John Cofie and Thomas Cwyka to level the tie midway through the second half.
With Barnsley looking the favourites to clinch the all-important fifth goal, Wanderers showed both character and determination to fight back and regain their two goal cushion with Clough inflicting the damage on the Tykes’ goal.
Bolton kicked off what was set to be an entertaining opening 45 minutes at the County Ground with a goal inside the opening minute.
The visitors needlessly handed possession away inside their own half to Clough. The winger quickly punished the Tykes with a teasing run that resulted in a fierce close range effort being parried by goalkeeper Christian Dibble straight into the path of Odelusi to tap home from point blank range.
Barnsley’s response was instant and four minutes later they went close to drawing level as Bolton goalkeeper Jonny Sutherland, on work experience from Manchester United, had his palms stung by a rasping drive from 20-year-old striker Jordan Clarke.
The Yorkshire outfit soon found their feet on a frosty evening in Lancashire with former Polish U21 international Thomas Cwyka and ex Bayern Munich midfielder Dale Jennings seeing a lot of the ball. A pleasing sight for the Wanderers camp however was any attack that camp their way was handled with a number of heroic tackles and blocks.
With Barnsley doing the majority of the pressing, the Whites hit their opponents with a heavy blow on the counter attack and double their advantage.
A Reds corner was knocked out to the edge of the penalty area for captain Paul Digby but the Bolton defence reacted well to take the ball away from the midfielder and set about on an attack of their own.
The same pairing for Bolton combined once more as Clough threaded a perfect ball through the middle for Odelusi to latch onto and expertly dink the ball beyond Dibble into the back of the net after 19 minutes.
Five minutes later and Conor Wilkinson tried to repeat Odelusi’s heroics with a cheeky chip of his own but this time the Barnsley backline managed to relieve the pressure with a late clearance.
In the 28th minute the visitors got a foothold back into the cup tie when powerful centre forward Cofie leapt above the Bolton defence to divert a header past Sutherland.
The match continued to be played at a fast pace for the remainder of the first half with Bolton having the last say five minutes before the interval. A superb passage of play resulted in full back Glenn Matthews finding himself in an onside position behind the Barnsley backline but his shot was deflected away.
The second half was more of a quieter affair for both sides with Clarke squandering the best chance of the first 15 minutes for the visitors as he lashed a 20-yard effort over the bar.
As time went on Barnsley started to grow in confidence and just after the hour mark they found themselves level when Cwyka hit a thumping strike from the edge of the penalty area into the top right hand corner
The Whites were being put to the test at the County Ground as Barnsley went in search of a third and seal their place in the next round of the U21 Premier League Cup. Substitute Brad Abbott made an immediate impact by rattling the Bolton bar with a powerful drive.
Wanderers’ first change of the evening came with 15 minutes to go as Tom Youngs was withdrawn for Georg Iliev.
Barnsley’s second half dominance didn’t pay to fruition as winger Clough stole the show with two quick fire goals to confirm Bolton’s place in the last 16 of the U21 Premier League Cup.
His first was trademark play from the youngster as he weaved away from three Barnsley challenges before drive the ball past Dibble to the delight of his fellow team mates with 13 minutes remaining.
Three minutes later and Clough had his second of the game as he collected a pass from inside the penalty area from substitute Iliev and first time beat Dibble at his near post.
The Whites professionally saw out the remainder of the tie and booked their place in the next round of the competition at Barnsley’s expense.
BWFC: Sutherland, White, Matthews, Threlkeld, Holding, Woodland (Kelly, 82), Odelusi, Gregus, Wilkinson, Clough, Youngs (Iliev, 75). Subs: A. Knight, Ball.
Barnsley: Dibble, Patterson, Nyatanga, Digby, Tunnicliffe, Jones, Cwyka, Etuhu (Abbott, 59) Cofie, Clark, Jennings. Subs: Rusling, Sousa, McKnight, Smith.