Youngsters defeated by their Latics counterparts in last four cup clash
Aaron Knight's late strike wasn't enough for Wanderers as the club's development squad bowed out of the Lancashire FA Senior Cup at the semi-final stage with a 2-1 defeat against Wigan Athletic at the Robin Park Arena.
In a game of chances for both sides, the Latics broke the deadlock with 24 minutes on the clock from the penalty spot through Tim Chow and doubled their advantage in second half stoppage time with another spot-kick from Ryan Jennings, while Hayden White was also dismissed for a second bookable offence.
Bolton did pull themselves back into contention in the final minutes of the clash through Knight's powerful drive, but it was in vain as the hosts held out for the win to secure their place in the final against Bury.
The Latics started brightly, with Tim Chow’s volley through a crowded Wanderers penalty area crashing onto the post inside the opening minutes of the clash while Guillermo Andres almost capitalised in the six yard box moments later.
Despite finding themselves on the back foot early on, the Whites almost took the lead themselves with five minutes on the clock as Zach Clough forced Marko Marosi into a smart reflex save from close range.
The chance seemed to breed confidence amongst the visitors with Clough’s free-kick from just outside the area flying narrowly over the crossbar in the 11th minute.
No sooner had Wanderers enjoyed an opportunity however, Joey Johnson almost opened the scoring in what would have been fortuitous circumstances as his effort deflected off Ryan Sellars towards goal, but the Latics’ frontman saw the ball trickle agonisingly past Arran Lee-Barrett’s near post.
Johnson was testing the Bolton keeper against with 20 minutes gone as he unleashed from distance, while Walker went close for the Whites with a powerful drive through the Wigan penalty box.
With it seeming as though the opening goal of the match was imminent, the Latics did duly oblige in the 24th minute as Rob Holding upended Chow in the area, with St Helens born midfielder duly dispatching the resulting spot kick past Lee-Barrett.
Clough looked certain to bring Wanderers level however just three minutes later as he broke free of the Wigan defence, but Marosi was off his line quickly to avert the danger and preserve his side’s slender advantage.
The Latics almost doubled their advantage just short of the half hour mark as Johnson’s trickery allowed him to power to within inches of the Bolton goal, but the frontman somehow managed to blaze his effort over the bar.
As the clock ran down to half time, Wigan squandered a handful of opportunities including a free header by Luke Ainscough, while Chris Lester’s lofty ball into the area narrowly avoided Wanderers’ advancing attack.
Ainscough was in the thick of the action yet again shortly before the break as he found himself in on goal, but Lee-Barrett was to be the saviour as he smothered his effort while Andreas was unable to turn home the rebound.
A thorn in Wigan’s side during the first half, Walker almost made the perfect start to the second period as he attempted to connect with Lester’s ball into the box, but the under-18s frontman failed to make any meaningful contact.
Wanderers proceeded to pepper the Latics’ goal with efforts during the opening 10 minutes of the half, with the hosts virtually penned into their own penalty area.
The home side managed to break free from the Whites’ trap on the hour mark as Johnson broke away from the Bolton defence, but yet again Lee-Barrett was on hand to deny him at the death.
Aaron Knight appeared set to bring Wanderers level shortly after as he powered downfield, but his effort was cleared away for a corner, with Clough’s resulting header being deflected by Chow into the arms of Marosi.
With Wanderers eager to pull themselves back into contention, Walker attempted an acrobatic volley in the 70th minute which was cleared off the line by Mike Wilson, while Knight’s follow up attempt was blocked by the same man.
Niall Maher almost inadvertedly put the ball into his own net moments later as he flicked the ball on for a corner, but luckily for the youngster it flew wide of the upright.
Despite finding themselves under pressure, the Latics still enjoyed chances on the counter attack but were almost undone by Clough's mazy run from his own half with the young striker only denied my Marosi when in on goal.
With time running out, substitute Mekhi Leacock-McLeod almost drew the Whites level with a powerful drive from an acute angle, with the Wigan keeper having to be on his guard to prevent Wanderers from pulling level.
The introduction of Conor Wilkinson seven minutes before the end of the clash set out Bolton's intent, with the striker's four goals in the first round of the competition against Blackpool setting Wanderers on their way to their semi-final berth.
Ryan Meadows almost put the result to bed with 60 seconds remaining with a powerful shot from 20 yards, but his effort crashed back off the post with a goal seeming certain.
As the game entered added time however, Wigan were given the opportunity to extend their lead from the penalty spot after Hayden White had fouled Jennings, with the Bolton man receiving his second yellow card for the offence.
Jennings himself stepped up to take the spot-kick which Lee-Barrett initially saved, but the Wigan man managed to bundle home the rebound.
Not to be completely denied however, the Whites snatched a goal back straight from the restart through Knight whose left footed shot from the edge of the box nestled into the bottom corner of the net.
Despite their best efforts though, it wasn't enough as the Latics held out for the victory to book their place in the final of the competition against Bury.
Wanderers: Lee-Barrett, White, Sellers, Maher, Holding, Threlkeld, Lester, Woodland, Knight, Clough (Wilkinson, 83), Walker (Leacock-McLeod, 78)
Subs not used: Campbell, Ball, Bastos
Wigan Athletic: Marosi, Leigh, Garcia, Balogun, Wilson, Meadows, Jennings, Ainscough (Antelmi, 74), Andres (Flores, 74), Chow, Johnson
Subs not used: Phillips, Hamilton, Lambert