A valiant display from Bolton Wanderers’ youngster ever line-up saw lose out 4-3 on penalties after drawing the tie 1-1 against their more experienced Bradford City counterparts.
Wanderers picked up a point in this leasing.com trophy opener while their opponents saw them take homE two after their victorious spot kick shootout.
But the story of the night was the stunning display shown by Jimmy Phillips charges who took the lead through Dennis Politic’s second of the season.
Phillips presided over Wanderers youngest ever starting line-up for the last time prior to new managerial duo Keith Hill and David Flitcroft taking the reigns.
Over 9,000 fans took to their seats for this leasing.com trophy clash against Bradford City and the vast majority of them were soon out of their seats celebrating Dennis Politic’s first senior goal at the University of Bolton Stadium.
After a bright start by the hosts, the young Romanian put Wanderers a goal to the goal when his ferocious drive from distance wasn’t dealt with sufficiently by Bradford keeper Sam Hornby.
The goal certainly raised the roof and the young Wanderers were good value for their lead.
Wanderers wanted more and the impressive Ronan Darcy sent in a superb cross, intended for the head of Eddie Brown, but Hornby got a fist in the way to clear the danger.
Former Wanderers striker Clayton Donaldson got into a dangerous position on the edge of the box but his shot hit the side netting to give Wanderers a reprieve.
Jordan Boon came to the rescue for the hosts when he headed off the line after Tyler French got on the end of a Harry Pritchard corner.
Jermaine Anderson was the next Bantams player to try his luck but his shot from distance ballooned over the cross bar.
Jordan Gibson then hit the foot of the post after being lined up by Donaldson.
Some smart attacking play from Wanderers culminated in Darcy’s clever cross taking a defection for a corner kick.
Wanderers passing and positivity were exciting the crowd and they were nearly off their seats for a second time when a wonderful move was nearly finished off by a Politic left-footer which went agonisingly wide.
Just after the restart and Bradford were presented with an opportune chance to score from a set-piece but the Wanderers wall held firm to keep out Pritchard’s powerful free kick.
The equaliser came from the resulting corner when Paudie O’Connor headed past Alexander in the Wanderers goal.
Moments later Hornby made a fine save to keep out a Politic thunderbolt after the midfielder created space for himself to shoot.
Alexander made a good save to keep out Harry Pritchard as the visitors were looking to get their noses in front.
Despite some valiant defending from Zouma, Pritchard was denied by the post once again as the visitors were starting to get on top.
Gibson tried his luck from range but Alexander kept out the midfielder’s drive with a strong save.
At the other end, Alexander made a wonderful save to keep out a left footed effort from Zeli Ismail.
The Wanderers keeper was having a fine night in between the posts for the home side and kept out another close range effort with a fantastic reaction save.
Some amazing play and skill from Politic saw him weave into the box but his shot was ultimately blocked before it could trouble the Bradford keeper.
Right at the death of normal time, Ben Richards-Everton missed a golden chance to head home a winner as he leapt to meet a corner kick.
Fitzmartin saw a firmly struck effort well saved on the stroke of full time and the tie then went straight into a penalty shootout, which Bradford won 4-3 after Hornby saved from Adam Senior.