Bolton Wanderers U21s secured a well-earned point following a 1-1 draw against an experienced Manchester City.
Bolton made two changes from their draw against Newcastle United four days ago. Slovakian U21 international Jan Gregus started in the heart of the Whites midfield alongside Josh Vela whilst the other change allowed Niall Maher to start at right back.
Meanwhile, Premier League champions Manchester City named a star studded line-up, blessed with international talent, which included England defender Micah Richards and Champions League winner Maicon.
Wanderers shot stopper Rob Lainton was handed an early test from the visitors but showed his credentials by quickly getting down to his right to beat away Marcos Lopes’ powerful effort from the edge of the penalty area.
Soon enough, Bolton marked their territory on the game, with strikers Clough and Jack Sampson looking to break City’s offside trap with the visitors playing a high line.
Ten minutes into play and Jamie Fullerton’s side had their first look in on Ian Lawlor’s goal. Sampson, who scored Bolton’s goal against Newcastle on Thursday, put his laces through the ball to send a fierce effort goal bound but the keeper was on hand to save.
City, donning their burgundy away strip, were seeing plenty of possession in the first half, but were struggling to break down a resilient Bolton backline which halted their every attack.
At the other end of the pitch, Wanderers again went close when tricky winger Chris Lester weaved his way through the City defence to direct a low cross for Andy Kellett at the back post but the left back blazed over.
Proving to be a nuisance for Dedryk Boyata, who was on loan at the Reebok last season, Wanderers’ number ten Clough put the Whites ahead with a well taken finish in the 34th minute.
Receiving the ball 35-yards from goal, Bolton’s academy graduate brought play forward and before City’s defence could respond to the threat, the youngster sweetly found the far corner.
Bolton grew in confidence after the goal with Clough again heavily involved in their next move. Cheekily megging Emyr Huws, the 18-year-old darted through the midfield and showed great awareness to pick out the run of Sampson but City’s number one was quick out to repel the danger.
With the half time whistle approaching, City put in a late three attacks in attempt to equalise before the break.
La Rosa and John Guidetti, who scored 20 goals for Dutch giants Feyenoord last season, both saw efforts smartly saved by Lainton.
However, the Manchester club made it third time lucky and found a route past Wanderers’ shot stopper when La Rosa put the finishing touches to a free flowing team move.
The second half began with both teams trying to find the edge and claim three points in an attempt to close the gap on league leaders Reading in the U21 Group Two league standings.
Just before the hour mark, Oscar Threlkeld made an important goal line clearance to prevent City taking the lead after a deflected shot from inside the box found its way through a crowd of shirts.
In the 63rd minute, Bolton midfielder Gregus was withdrawn by boss Fullerton after a solid performance as he continues his comeback from injury, Adam Blakeman the man to come on.
Looking dangerous on the counter, towering striker Sampson tried his luck from range midway through the second period but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
After a battling 15 minutes of play without any opportunities created, Brazilian international Maicon could have won the game for City late on, rattling the frame with a curling strike from the edge of the penalty box.
Fullerton will have been pleased with his side’s defensive organisation with Cian Bolger and Threlkeld commanding the Bolton penalty area with the game finishing 1-1.
Wanderers will now look forward to Thursday night’s game at the Reebok Stadium against Reading, kick-off 7pm.
Bolton: Lainton, Maher, Kellett, Threlkeld, Bolger, Vela, Lester, Gregus (Blakeman, 63), Sampson, Clough, Odelusi. Unused subs: Sievers, McKee, McQuade, Youngs.
Man City: Lowlor, Maicon, Leigh, Huws, Richards, Boyata, Rusnak, Suarez (Fofana, 80), Guidetti, Lopes (Bytyqi, 80), La Rosa. Unused subs: Plummer, Gunn, Ntcham.