David Lee and Tony Kelly's youngsters denied victory in Essex
Wanderers’ under-18s were cruelly denied all three points in their penultimate game of the season in a 2-2 draw against West Ham United on Saturday.
Having fallen behind to an early Jordan Brown strike, Carl Kennedy drew Wanderers level half way through the first period before William Abbotts completed the turnaround 14 minutes from time.
The hosts were soon back on levels terms however through Brown yet again, and despite a flurry of attacks from both sides in the closing stages the game ultimately ended all square.
Prior to kick-off, West Ham’s Kieran Bywater laid a wreath on the centre circle with a minute’s silence held in memory of Hammers youngster Dylan Tombides who sadly passed away last week.
Once proceedings were underway in Essex, the home side almost made the perfect start as Brown burst past Bolton’s defence, but his set up across the face of goal was blocked and cleared.
Not to be deterred however, Abbotts was proving himself a nuisance with his towering presence and nearly broke the deadlock with five minutes gone, but his neat half volley failed the trouble the West Ham goalkeeper.
With the game heading into double figures on the clock, Elliot Newby took a corner which found the returning Kieran Nolan for an unmarked header but his powerful effort bounced down and over the crossbar.
West Ham broke into the penalty area just five minutes later, but Bolton keeper Harry Campbell sought Brown's cross before Jerry Amoo could connect.
Not to be deterred however, the hosts made no mistake moments later as a diagonal through ball went over the heads of the Bolton defence with Brown firing at Campbell who initially saved his effort, but the youngster was unable to keep out the rebound.
Despite falling behind, Wanderers were clearly a team on a mission and Hammers’ goalkeeper Sam Howes made a superb quick reflexed one handed save to deny Abbotts from the edge of his box soon after.
The Whites got their just desserts in the 23rd minute however when after a sustained period of pressure and high tempo, captain Kennedy finished beautifully to level the scores.
West Ham were struggling to contain Wanderers by this point and Saul Hamer was almost presented a goal after quickly chasing down Howes' poor clearance, but the shot stopper somehow cleared his lines.
There was an opportunity for Brown to bag a brace against the run of play shortly before the break, but Campbell’s outstretched fingertips pushed his curling effort around the post while Moses Makasi narrowly failed to connect with a dangerous ball into the box as the referee brought the half to an end.
The second period started with less vigour than the first, but it was to be the home side who enjoyed the first chance of the half as West Ham countered in numbers following a Bolton attack, but Djair Parfitt-Williams’ tame shot was held by Campbell.
Following this, as the wind held Bywater's cross in the air, Djair reacted first to head at goal and over the watching Campbell, but Jordan Hendrie cleared with a swivelled hook to keep the scores level.
Having looked a threat all afternoon however, Wanderers finally took the lead in the 76th minute as some pedestrian West Ham passing led to a loose ball which Hamer gleefully collected before unleashing a pass across the face of goal for Abbotts to clinically fire home.
Their lead wasn’t to last though as moments later, Djair played the ball into the path of Brown who levelled the scores once more with a wicked right footed drive.
It was clear to see that neither team were ready to settle for a point as the game entered its final ten minutes, with Bywater wasting a golden opportunity with a mistimed header at the back post, while Christoopher Cvetko sprinted sprinted forward on a mazy run in injury time, but saw his eventual effort dragged wide.
Both sides pushed for a winning goal in the closing stages of the clash, but their efforts were in vain as the game ended all square.
The club’s youngsters will be hoping to end the campaign on a high in their final game of the season next Friday morning against Liverpool, kick off 11am.
Bolton: Campbell, Hendrie (Spooner), Garratt, Perry, Honeyball, Kennedy (c), Newby, Nolan (Liam Grittiths), Abbotts, Hamir, Cvetko
West Ham: Howes, Pike, Harney, Knoyle, Mavila, Makasi, Nasha (Onariase), Bywater (c), Amoo, Parfitt-Williams, Brown