A valiant Bolton Wanderers development squad suffered an unfortunate defeat in their first home game of the Barclays U21 Premier League Group 1 season against Norwich City.
An unlucky own goal by Oscar Threlkeld saw the Canaries snatch victory at the County Ground in front of a crowd of 130 on a wet and windy afternoon.
David Ngog made his first appearance since suffering a back injury in pre-season against Portsmouth, the striker playing the entire opening 45 minutes.
An encouraging first-half performance from Bolton saw the home side have the better of the chances.
A surging run down the left flank by Joseph McKee allowed him space to backheel the ball into the path of defender Andrew Kellet who hit a curling shot that soared just over the crossbar.
Moments later Norwich thought they’d broken the deadlock as they found the net in the 11th minute. Wanderers goalkeeper Jay Lynch stretched to block a shot from Norwich winger Jacob Murphy before the ball ricocheted into the path of Jamar Loza in front of a gaping net. The striker tapped in but the goal was disallowed as he was in an offside position.
Bolton then began to dominate for the remainder of the half with all the chances being created by the Whites in impressive fashion.
A succession of powerful shots from McKee nearly found the breakthrough before Tom Eaves rifled a shot towards goal that Norwich goalkeeper Jed Steer only just palmed over the crossbar.
Wanderers nearly got the goal that they deserved on the half-hour mark. A deflected cross from defender Niall Maher was met by a rising Ngog. The frontman nodded towards goal but was prevented by the fingertips of Steer as he pushed the ball to safety.
The restart didn’t halt Bolton’s superiority.
A cross whipped in by Chris Lester found fellow winger McKee at the far post, who volleyed just wide to the relief of the visitors.
The Canaries missed their best opportunity of the game after Jacob Murphy hit the post. The rebound fell to Loza who side-footed the ball wide in front of an open net.
Norwich took the lead in fortuitous circumstances against the run of play.
A cross drilled through the six-yard box by Josh Murphy was inadvertently turned into Bolton’s net by the under pressure by Threlkeld to open the scoring in the 72nd minute.
This did not deter Wanderers as they admirably battled in search of an equaliser against a tough Canaries defence.
Despite Bolton’s inability to level the score late on, manager John Henry and his side can draw plenty of positives from their performance.
Bolton Wanderers: Lynch, Maher, Kellett, McQuade, Threlkeld, Blakeman, Lester, Kelly (Wolstenholme 75), Eaves (Odelusi 61), Ngog (Sampson 46), McKee
Norwich City: Steer, Barker, Durojaiye, Adeyemi, McNeil, Sheriff, Jacob Murphy, Clunan, Loza, Butterfield (King 55), Josh Murphy (Hall-Johnson 86)