Bolton Wanderers’ under-21 development squad suffered an unfortunate defeat against Everton in their league clash on Sunday afternoon.
Goals from Magaye Gueye, Shane Duffy, Matthew Kennedy, Matthew Pennington and substitute Conor McAleny saw the home side collect all three points.
After coming from behind to lead at half-time, Bolton continued to play in a confident and impressive manner that suggests that the resulting scoreline was slightly harsh.
Composed play from Everton saw them break the deadlock in the 15th minute. Midfielder Francisco Junior played a deft pass through the Bolton defence that Gueye wasted no time in taking advantage of. The winger calmly and accurately slotted the ball past goalkeeper Jay Lynch and into the corner.
The lead didn’t last long as Bolton immediately hit back and levelled five minutes later after they were awarded a penalty.
A stinging effort from 25 yards by James Kelly could only be parried into the path of Sanmi Odelusi by Mateusz Taudul; the goalkeeper stretched to retrieve the ball but brought Odelusi down as the referee correctly pointed to the spot.
Michael O’Halloran took the penalty, his effort just beyond the reach of Taudul as it flew into the bottom-right corner of the net.
The Whites grew in confidence and took the lead just past the half-hour mark after opening up the Everton defence.
A pass from Andy Kellett found Odelusi in acres of space in the area, the frontman quickly turned and drilled the ball in to make it 2-1.
The Toffees responded well after the restart and utilised defender Duffy’s aerial presence to score a second.
A corner whipped in by Kennedy was met by the rising Irishman who nodded in at the far post.
Duffy’s goal signalled the beginning of a period filled with exciting attacking play from both sides as they battled for the fifth goal of the game.
It was the Blues who found the net after some clever improvisation by Kennedy.
Everton were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, a set-piece which Gueye failed to hit beyond the wall as the ball deflected into the path of Kennedy. As the wall broke out to close down the winger Kennedy coolly side-footed a slow but pinpoint shot that avoided all of the incoming players and the outstretched arm of Lynch as it rolled into the corner.
The game remained a very open encounter as Bolton constantly raced up the pitch towards the Everton defence in search of another goal.
Kelly deceived Francisco Junior as he took the ball around the midfielder before hitting a curling effort that was saved by Taudul, shortly before Everton found the net in fortuitous circumstances.
A mazy run from McAleny saw the midfielder forced out wide by Oscar Threlkeld before the defender slipped, allowing the Everton substitute space inside the box.
McAleny bent a curling shot into the far corner to make it 4-2 as Bolton rued their bad luck, Wanderers didn’t deserve a two-goal deficit.
Everton’s fifth came courtesy of another towering header from one of their defenders, on this occasion it was Pennington who found the net from a Kennedy corner, a goal very similar to the Toffee’s second.
Bolton admirably battled on until the final whistle despite their total lack of luck on a day where the Whites can take encouragement from the manner in which they played.
Everton:Taudul, Browning, Touray, Junior, Pennington, Duffy, Kennedy, Kelly (McAleny 45), Vellios, Forrester, Gueye
Bolton: Lynch, Riley, Kellett, McQuade, Threlkeld, Blakeman (Woodland 78), Lester, Kelly, Odelusi (Sampson 90), O’Halloran, Wylde