U21s: Liverpool 2-3 Bolton

Youngsters secure all three points with a battling performance on Merseyside

Rob Holding’s late header ensured that Wanderers’ Under 21 side recorded an impressive 3-2 victory away at Liverpool on Monday afternoon.

The Whites had taken an early two goal lead thanks to Jan Gregus’ penalty and Zach Clough’s strike, but they were to be pegged back before half time as Jordan Rossiter and Jordon Ibe’s spot kick levelled the scores.

Not to be denied however, Wanderers bounced back and withstood a tirade of Liverpool pressure to snatch all three points to secure their second consecutive league victory on their travels.

The hosts started strongly, with Ibe’s powerful shot being deflected just wide inside the opening minute of the clash.

Having found themselves under pressure early on however, Wanderers almost stunned the Reds with a long range effort from Tom Youngs with ten minutes on the clock, but Dan Ward in the Liverpool goal was equal to his effort and was able to push the ball over the bar.

The chance appeared to breathe life into the Bolton frontline, but their hard work was almost undone as against Samed Yesil slipped his marker and found himself with only the keeper to beat, but Jonny Sutherland denied him from a tight angle.

No sooner had the home side enjoyed a glorious opportunity to take the lead however, Wanderers were to hit them with a sucker punch as Gregus was fouled in the area, with the Slovakian converting the resulting spot kick himself to put the Whites in front with 15 minutes gone.

With confidence undeniably high amongst the Bolton team, it came as no surprise to anyone when Wanderers doubled their advantage just eight minutes later following great work from Gregus down the right flank.

The midfielder had powered down the wing before playing the ball into the feet of Conor Wilkinson whose shot ricocheted off the post, but Clough was on hand to tap in the rebound past a helpless Ward.

After a barren spell in front of goal, Liverpool almost snatched themselves a route back into the clash as Cameron Brannagan attempted to curl an effort into the top corner of the net, but the striker saw his effort clip the post and go wide with Sutherland beaten.

With Wilkinson being withdrawn, Wanderers suddenly found themselves on the back foot and were undone with 37 minutes gone as Rossiter found himself unmarked in the box and proceeded to place a looping header over a despairing Sutherland in the Bolton goal.

The goal seemed to be just what the Reds needed, with a tirade of pressure eventually leading to Ibe being fouled in the area, leaving the referee with no option but to award a spot kick which the midfielder duly converted to level the scores.

Ibe almost handed Liverpool the lead on the stroke of half time, but his effort was cleared off the line at the death by Hayden White to ensure that the half ended all square.

After ending the first half under the cosh, Wanderers sent out a message of intent just a matter of minutes into the second period as Gregus curled a free-kick towards the top corner of the net, but the Liverpool keeper was on hand to prevent the visitors from retaking the lead.

Substitute Chris Lester looked certain to score after connecting with Youngs’ cross-field pass, but the winger’s effort was deflected behind by Lloyd Jones for a corner, while the latter struck a shot against the woodwork shortly after.

As the half wore on chances became few and far between for both sides, with each defence standing up solidly against any attacks.

Both teams made a number of changes in a bid to snatch all three points with Liverpool introducing Stephen Sama and Michael Ngoo into the fold while Wanderers threw Luke Woodland on in place of Mark Davies.

With strength in numbers up front, Liverpool found themselves powering forward inside the final ten minutes with Rossiter and Brad Smith smashing shots goal bound, but their efforts were cleared away by a resolute Bolton defence.

Despite their dominance in the closing stages however, it was to be Wanderers who retook the lead with just five minutes on the clock as Holding headed home from a corner.

The home side threw men forward in their droves as the clock ran down in a bid to rescue a point from the game with Sama’s header clipping the crossbar the stroke of full time, but their efforts were to prove fruitless as the Whites held out for the win.

Bolton: Sutherland, White, Holding, Threlkeld, Bolger, Vela (Kelly, 77), Clough, Gregus, Wilkinson (Lester 30), Davies (Woodland, 70), Youngs.
Subs not used: Torres, Hinchcliffe

Liverpool: Ward, Kelly (Smith, 45), Cissokho, Ilori, Jones, Rossiter, Ibe, Lussey, Yesil (Ngoo, 72, Brannagan, Teixeira (Sama, 69)
Subs not used: Crump, Dunn
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