Under-21s: Wanderers 1-2 Arsenal

Gregg Wylde's goal not enough for John Henry's youngsters at the County Ground

Bolton Wanderers’ development squad suffered a slim league defeat against Arsenal at the County Ground on Monday night.

A strike from Gregg Wylde wasn’t enough for the Wanderers despite a positive display as goals from Chuba Akpom and Thomas Eisfeld sealed all three points for the visitors.

The majority of the first half proved to be an entertaining encounter containing plenty of goalmouth action.

Arsenal piled on the pressure as soon as the match began and were immediately rewarded for their efforts when they opened the scoring after five minutes.

A ball swung in from the right flank was nodded to Eisfeld by Akpom, the midfielder chested the ball down before striking a low, powerful drive into the far corner of the net.

Following their early goal, Arsenal allowed complacency to creep in.

The Gunners gave away possession in defence before Sanmi Odelusi reacted quickly and hit a curling shot that Emiliano Martinez stretched across to tip around the post.

Despite Wanderers’ valiant efforts in pushing for an equaliser, Arsenal managed to double their tally against the run of play in the 17th minute.

Akpom raced into the 18-yard box before tumbling over the outstretched leg of Andy Kellett, leaving referee Jumpei Lida little choice but to award the visitors a penalty.

Akpom dusted himself off before sending goalkeeper Rob Lainton the wrong way from the spot as the striker accurately slotted his attempt into the bottom-right corner.

The Whites commendably continued to relentlessly push forward and they reduced Arsenal’s lead just three minutes later.

The influential Michael O’Halloran received possession in the centre of midfield before laying the ball in the path of the onrushing Wylde.

The rampant winger burst in behind the Gunners defence before drilling a fierce strike past Martinez to make it 2-1.

Bolton’s goal ensured that the game remained very open in terms of attacking play and Arsenal came close to finding the net for a third time in stunning circumstances just after the half-hour mark.

Full-back Jernade Meade hit a low cross from the left wing that was met at the near post by Jon Toral. The Spaniard improvised well and attempted an audacious flick that Lainton leapt across to stop.

The remainder of the half was a stark contrast to the pulsating beginning as no chances followed, both sides continued to press but with little success.

The second period started in a similar manner to the first as both teams came close to scoring.

Five minutes into the second half, Akpom saw an effort blocked off the line.

Fortunately for the visitors, the ball ricocheted into the path of the striker following an aerial challenge that left only Lainton in between him and the net.

Akpom took the ball around the goalkeeper before seeing his goal-bound shot heroically blocked by Alex McQuade after the defender rapidly recovered to rescue the Whites.

This appeared to boost Bolton further as they continued in search of a levelling goal.

Wanderers came agonisingly close to grabbing the equaliser they craved moments after Arsenal’s missed opportunity.

Ben Hampson’s cross was met by the towering Odelusi who directed a header narrowly wide of Martinez’ goal.

The ferocious tempo of the game didn’t halt there as the visitors missed a glorious chance an hour into the game.

A stinging 25-yard effort from Isaac Hayden could only be parried by Lainton into the path of Toral who was lurking eight yards from goal. Luckily for Bolton, the youngster swung his leg at the ball but failed to make any contact before the danger was cleared.

Chances then became more of a rarity as the match entered the final half an hour, Bolton enjoyed a good share of the possession but struggled to create clear opportunities while Arsenal constantly looked threatening on the break.

The Gunners came the closest to scoring towards the end of the match with two attempts that were narrowly off target.

With just over 20 minutes remaining Nico Yennaris hit a speculative 30-yard effort that just curled away from the post before the visitors came even closer in added time.

Akpom was yet again making a nuisance of himself in the area as he created space to hit a rasping left-footed shot that flew just over the crossbar, an attempt that was the last meaningful action of a game in which Bolton performed admirably.

Wanderers:Lainton, Hampson, Kellett, McQuade, Threlkeld, Blakeman, Lester, Wolstenholme, Odelusi, O'Halloran (Clough 77), Wylde (Unused subs: Fielding, Kelly, McKee, Maher)

Arsenal: Martinez, Bellerin, Meade, Angha, Hajrovic, Yennaris, Hayden, Olsson (Rees 56), Akpom, Toal (Bihmoutine 75), Eisfeld (Unused subs: Iliev, Monteiro, Fagan, Mugabo)

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