Bolton Wanderers’ development squad suffered a slender defeat to Rochdale in their Lancashire Senior Cup tie on Wednesday night.
A fine strike in the first-half from Brian Barry-Murphy was all that separated the two sides on an evening where Bolton were unlucky not to score.
Wanderers nearly opened the scoring after the first minute of play. Striker Jack Sampson raced into the area to meet Chris Lester’s inviting cross but could only glance his header wide.
Bolton’s early pressure didn’t fade as John Henry’s side continued to push forward.
Sampson came close to finding the net again after a clever run from defender Andy Kellett. The full-back burst through the midfield, avoided several challenges before dinking a deft ball over the defence into the path of the frontman. Sampson ran towards goal before hitting a powerful shot that goalkeeper Ben Smith dived to his left to save.
The Whites nearly fell behind despite a dominant opening from the visitors.
Ian Craney broke through the Wanderers backline but was quickly pressured by goalkeeper Jay Lynch who narrowed the angle well and blocked the midfielder’s rasping effort from close-range.
This opportunity for Rochdale was the catalyst for a more positive period for the home side in which they played with more confidence. Their increasingly attacking approach was highlighted in the 41st minute when they broke the deadlock.
A cross from the right flank by Craig Curran ricocheted into the path of Ashley Grimes a mere six yards from goal. Lynch reacted immediately to block Grimes’ effort, with the ball deflecting to Barry-Murphy 20 yards out. The midfielder struck an unstoppable shot on the bounce that soared into the top-right corner to send Rochdale into the lead.
The goal on the eve of half-time was an unfortunate blow for Bolton after they’d defended solidly for the majority of the first period.
More rapid reactions from Lynch ensured that Bolton didn’t fall further behind just before the hour mark.
After collecting a long pass over the Bolton defence, Dimitri Tuanzebe ran towards goal before slotting the ball across for Andy Cannon who was in acres of space. Impressive reflexes from Lynch resulted in the goalkeeper palming away a shot that looked destined to find the corner of the net as the score remained 1-0.
The second half developed into a scrappy encounter as much of the play was contested in midfield.
Joe McKee was introduced with just over 20 minutes remaining to inject some extra invention in attack as Bolton went in search of an equaliser.
McKee nearly made the perfect impact in the form of a goal as the final whistle approached.
A free-kick was awarded to Bolton on the corner of the area. McKee rifled his attempt towards the far corner but Smith stretched to deny Bolton again as the home side held on for the victory.
Rochdale: Smith, Minihan, Tanser, Allen, Pearson, Byrne, Barry-Murphy (Logan 45), Craney, Curran, Putterill (Tuanzebe 45), Grimes (Cannon 45)(Unused subs : Ashley, Leigh)
Wanderers: Lynch, Riley, Kellett, Dennis, Hampson (Threlkeld 45), Blakeman, Lester, Kelly (Woodland, 45), Sampson, O’Halloran (McKee, 69), Wylde (Unused subs: Ole Sievers, Odelusi)