First-team players Martin Petrov, Darren Pratley and Andy Lonergan were all fielded as eligible overage players, as Wanderers’ under-21s suffered a slim league defeat to West Brom at the Reebok Stadium on Monday night.
A solitary goal from Alex Jones was enough to separate the sides on an evening where both teams could have had several.
The attacking talent on display for Bolton, coupled with West Brom’s positive formation, guaranteed goalmouth action in the first half.
Petrov came close to demonstrating his class when he narrowly missed from 30 yards. The Bulgarian swung a free-kick that curled just wide of the post in the tenth minute as Bolton looked to stamp some authority on the game early on.
Wanderers couldn’t maintain the same dominance in the following ten minutes as West Brom were denied on multiple occasions by the impressive Lonergan.
The first opportunity for the visitors fell in the 12th minute after some clever work from Adil Nabi. The youngster showed great trickery to avoid a challenge from Joe McKee before curling a shot that was destined for the far corner. Lonergan anticipated the direction of the shot well as he leaped across to palm the ball away.
Lonergan was then called into action twice in two minutes as West Brom enjoyed a spell of superiority.
It took every ounce of the goalkeeper’s ability to prevent Nabi from scoring a 20-yard free-kick. The ball was whipped in towards the top corner of the net, Lonergan showed his quality as he flung himself across goal to tip the attempt over.
Moments later, a flurry of attempts in the 19t h minute saw the ball fall to Donervon Daniels inside the area. The defender quickly reacted as he lashed the ball towards goal before Lonergan rose to divert the ball over the crossbar.
As the half-hour mark approached, Wanderers began to impose themselves more in the game.
Petrov glided past Wesley Atkinson down the right wing before hitting an inventive shot with the outside of his boot from distance. The powerful effort flashed across the face of goal and flew just wide.
The Whites continued to press for the opener and after coming so close to being a goalscorer, Petrov was nearly the provider for Bolton in the 36th minute.
The Bulgarian swung in a typically accurate free-kick that Gregg Wylde could only head over under pressure.
Wanderers could consider themselves unfortunate not to have won a penalty in the 41st minute.
As Joe Riley went to meet a cross from Petrov the defender appeared to be brought down for what seemed a blatant penalty, though claims from the Bolton players were ignored by the referee.
The second period didn't quite begin in the manner that Bolton desired as West Brom created chances early after the restart.
A through ball from George Thorne found Jones in space, the striker ran at goal but Lonergan rescued Bolton with a save from close range as Jones preferred to hit his shot with power rather than precision.
Wanderers were fortunate not to fall behind in the 57th minute after some poor finishing from Nabi. The frontman received possession in space with a clear run at goal but he failed to even hit the target as he side-footed his attempt wide.
Despite bringing on Sanmi Odelusi for added potency in attack, it was West Brom who found the breakthrough in the 68th minute.
Thorne was brought down on the edge of the box and remained on the floor in pain before Jones retrieved possession. The striker played on and created some space before drilling a shot from 20 yards through the Bolton defence that crashed into the bottom corner of the net.
Credit is due for Bolton as the goal didn't halt their attacking play as they constantly battled for an equaliser as the final whistle loomed.
With just a few minutes remaining substitute Dylan Wolstenholme almost found the net in stunning fashion.
Pratley’s attempted pass to tee Wolstenholme up hit the midfielder in the chest but the substitute still controlled the ball well before rifling a half-volley that unfortunately flew straight at Lewis.
Wanderers valiantly fought for a goal against a panicking West Brom side in the dying moments of the game but sadly lacked the cutting edge.
Wanderers: Lonergan, Riley (Wolstenholme 66), Kellett, McQuade, Threlkeld, Blakeman, Petrov, McKee (Odelusi 64), O’Halloran, Pratley, Wydle (Sampson 86) (Unused substitutes: Lynch, Lester)
West Brom: Lewis, O’Neil, Atkinson, Thorne, Daniels, Gayle, Brown, Mantom, Jones, Nabi, O’Sullivan (Unused substitutes: Palmer, Pace, Smart, C Jones, Ambalu)