Wanderers’ Under 21s recorded an emphatic 6-2 victory over Stoke City at the Weaver Stadium on Monday evening.
A strike from Conor Wilkinson, a brace from Tom Youngs and an Oscar Threlkeld goal had seen the Whites take a four goal advantage into the break, but the Potters reduced the deficit shortly after the restart through Karim Rossi.
Not to be deterred however, Bolton hit back through Wilkinson who completed his hat trick and while Charlie Ward snatched another consolation for Stoke late on, it was ultimately in vain as Wanderers ran out comfortable winners.
Stoke enjoyed a bright start to proceedings, with James Alabi firing just wide inside the first minute of the clash after good work from Jermaine Pennant.
Having found themselves under early pressure however, Wanderers almost stunned the hosts shortly after as Georg Iliev played the ball into the path of Wilkinson, but the striker was denied at close range by Daniel Bachmann.
The chance appeared to breathe confidence into the Whites, with Youngs and Zach Clough spurning glorious opportunities to hand Bolton the lead.
No sooner had they wasted two chances however, Youngs played a pinpoint ball into the path of Wilkinson in the 12th minute who slotted home past the advancing Bachmann in the Stoke goal.
After finding themselves in front the belief amongst the Whites was clear to see, with Wilkinson turning provider just five minutes later as he supplied Youngs with a beautifully crafted ball, with the striker doubling Wanderers’ advantage with a perfectly executed lob over the keeper.
The Potters looked to be at sixes and sevens with Bolton’s strike force running riot inside the opening quarter of the game, and it wasn’t long before it got worse for the hosts as Threlkeld volleyed home from Iliev’s flick on to make it three.
With Stoke having struggled to break out of their own half, the Potters did test Aaran Lee-Barrett in the Bolton goal a matter of moments after Threlkeld’s strike, but the keeper was equal to his powerful effort.
Frustration amongst the home side was clearly setting in, with a number of wild attempts failing to trouble the Whites’ keeper.
A fourth goal looked to be imminent, and it was to fall to Youngs who fired home from a matter of yards out after good work from Clough with just five minutes of the half to go to ensure that Wanderers entered the break with a seemingly unassailable lead.
As the second period got underway, Stoke appeared to have more vigour about their play and their sprightly start was rewarded with 52 minutes on the clock as Rossi unleashed a scorching shot past Lee-Barrett from a tight angle to reduce to deficit.
No sooner had the Potters pulled one back however, Wanderers were back on the attack with Jan Gregus’ swinging free-kick being pushed around the post by Bachmann.
Stoke introduced striker Derice Richards into the fold on the hour mark in a bid to stage what seemed an unlikely comeback, but it was to be in vain as Wilkinson snatched his second of the game, slotting the ball into the bottom corner of the net after connecting with Iliev’s flick on.
With Wanderers well and truly back in the driving seat, Wilkinson completed his hat trick just two minutes later, following up with a simple tap in after Clough’s shot was parried out by Bachmann.
Gregus looked set to extend Bolton’s lead in the 76th minute as he found himself one on one with the keeper, but he saw his shot come back off the post.
Almost immediately after however, the Potters snatched another goal back through Ward who powered the ball through a crowded penalty area and into the bottom corner of the net.
As the clock ran down, Pennant tested Lee-Barrett from close range and Ben Heneghan saw his header cleared off the line by Luke Woodland in a late flurry of attacks by Stoke, but their efforts were to prove futile as Bolton ran out handsome winners.
Stoke City: Bachmann, Watkins-Clark (Cook, 11), Wheeler, Edu (Richards, 59), Heneghan, Grant, Pennant, Ness (Dawson, 76), Alabi, Ward, Rossi
Subs not used: Eve, Lecygne
Bolton: Lee-Barrett, White, Matthews, Threlkeld, Holding, Woodland, Iliev, Gregus, Wilkinson (Knight, 74), Clough, Youngs
Subs not used: Kelly, Sutherland, Bailey, Hinchcliffe