Bolton Wanderers’ development squad registered their second draw in the league this season after they battled their way to a point against Reading at the County Ground on Monday night.
A strike from Gregg Wylde followed by an own goal by Reading defender Matthew Partridge saw a resilient Bolton side take a firm grip on the game as they dominated the majority of the first period.
The visitors fought back to level the scoring before both sides came agonisingly close to stealing all three points.
Bolton stamped their authority early into proceedings and nearly opened the scoring in the 13th minute through Joe McKee.
The energetic Wylde surged down the left wing before hitting a low ball across the area that found McKee. The Scot met the cross with a stinging effort that unfortunately flew straight at goalkeeper Jonathan Henly.
The Whites’ dominance paid dividends as they earned a deserved lead through a lively Wylde in the 19th minute.
A free-kick from deep was whipped towards the far post by the winger as Sanmi Odelusi dived in an attempt to glance the ball in. The striker failed to make contact and it worked in Bolton’s favour as the ball deceived Henly and found the corner of the net. Initially, the linesman flagged Odelusi offside for interfering with play but the referee overruled the decision and correctly gave the goal.
Despite taking the lead Bolton admirably maintained their frightening pace and pressure before extending their lead just four minutes later.
Reading defender Partridge attempted to clear a cross from Joe Riley but inadvertently deflected the ball beyond Henly and into the top corner of the net.
Against the run of play, Reading managed to pull back a goal through a set-piece.
Jake Taylor curled a free-kick through Bolton’s wall and into the bottom-right corner to inject some hope into the visitors.
Reading’s goal did not deflate a rampant Wanderers side as they reasserted themselves in the match.
McKee drilled a low strike from 25 yards that flew narrowly wide before Odelusi missed the opportunity to stretch Bolton’s lead on the stroke of half-time.
Wylde burst down the left wing before playing the ball across for the frontman who utilised his blistering pace to get in behind the Reading defence. Odelusi attempted to side-foot the ball towards goal but failed to make the desired contact as his effort slid wide.
The Whites fully deserved their half-time lead but were unlucky to start the second half only one goal ahead.
Wylde epitomised Bolton’s approach in the second half as the lively Wanderers nearly scored a third through the winger in the 56th minute.
Wanderers counter-attacked Reading and the midfielder went on a solo run nearly the length of the entire pitch before hitting a disappointingly tame effort with his weaker foot that Henly saved with ease.
The visitors then began to impose themselves in the match more and were rewarded with an equaliser with 20 minutes remaining.
Defender Niall Keown jabbed a loose ball into the top corner of the goal after the ball bounced off Odelusi’s arm from a corner. The Whites were furious with the referee for not awarding them a free-kick in the build-up to the goal after Alex McQuade was blatantly held back from blocking Keown’s shot.
Wanderers’ lack of luck was evident yet again in the first minute of added time when substitute Ben Hampson nearly found the net from the right flank.
Hampson whipped in a cross that soared over Henly before crashing against the far post and ricocheting off the goalkeeper over the crossbar.
This proved to be the last meaningful action of the match as Bolton were unfortunate not to walk away with a victory.
Wanderers:Lynch, Riley (Hampson 74), McQuade, Ream (Matthews 68), Threlkeld, Blakeman (Wolstenholme 28), Lester, McKee, Odelusi, O’Halloran, Wylde (Unused subs: Sievers, Iliev)
Reading: Henly, Arnold, Partridge, Tshibola, Keown, MacDonald, D’Ath, Gunnarsson, Samuel, Taylor, Losasso (Ikpeazu 66) (Unused subs: Webb, Lincoln, Tanner, Long)