David Wheater, Liam Trotter and Rob Hall feature as youngsters secure hard fought victory at the Racecourse StadiumIN BRIEF
Bolton Wanderers XI ended their pre-season campaign on a winning note with a 1-0 victory over Wrexham at the Racecourse Stadium on Friday evening.
Following a half of end-to-end chances, Wanderers proceeded to open the scoring seven minutes before half time through Chris Lester whose shot took a harsh deflection off Joe Clarke to wrong-foot the Wrexham keeper.
The hosts did put the Whites under pressure in the second period in a bid to force an equaliser, but Bolton stood firm to run out winners in Wales
The game started with Wanderers in the ascendancy as Niall Maher’s volleyed effort flew narrowly past the upright with four minutes on the clock.
The hosts were soon on the attack themselves however just two minutes later, with Louis Moult forcing Ross Fitzsimons into an excellent reflex save from a matter of yards out to keep the scores level.
Visibly boosted, Elliott Durrell was next to try his luck as a loose ball in the Bolton box fell to his feet, but Wanderers’ blushes were spared as Fitzsimons got down low to prevent the ball from sneaking into the bottom corner of the net.
Following a period of pressure from the home side, Wanderers slowly found their feet and saw both Liam Trotter and Zach Clough enjoy promising runs goalwards, but neither could ultimately test the Wrexham keeper.
The latter was in the thick of the action in the 17th minute as he threaded the ball through the Wrexham defence into the feet of Georg Iliev, only for the frontman to see his effort trickle agonisingly wide of the far post.
Clough almost had his own name on the team sheet immediately after as he turned his man inside the area and unleashed a shot on goal, but the Wrexham shot-stopper was at full stretch to prevent the ball from finding the corner of the net.
Wanderers were undoubtedly the team in the ascendancy as the half wore on, with Iliev narrowly failing to connect with Lester’s tantalising ball across the face of goal with half an hour gone.
Not to be forgotten, Wrexham’s Joe Harris tested Fitzsimons from distance, but his stinging effort was calmly collected by the Bolton keeper.
Wanderers were soon back on the attack however with Rob Hall slipping free of the hosts’ defence, only to see his ferocious pile driver whistle wide of the far post.
With 38 minutes gone, the deadlock was finally broken as Lester powered into the area and saw his tame effort deflect off Joe Clarke to wrong-foot the Wrexham keeper and hand Wanderers the lead.
Their advantage was almost doubled a minute before the break as Iliev attempted to capitalise on confusion amongst the Wrexham defence, but the youngster was unable to pull the ball into a decent position and the half drew to its conclusion.
Wrexham began the second period with renewed vigour as Blaine Hudson’s header from a corner flew narrowly over the crossbar with five minutes gone.
Wanderers very nearly put daylight between themselves and the hosts a matter of minutes later however as Hall’s free-kick ricocheted off the crossbar, with the Wrexham shot-stopper being forced to tip the rebound away from danger.
With the advantage still so slender though, the Welsh outfit proceeded to put the Whites under pressure but Wanderers stood firm and soaked up the waves of attacks with relative ease.
Stubborn in defence, the Trotters were restricting the hosts to ambitious long range shots, with Mark Carrington’s pile driver from distance failing to trouble Fitzsimons while Wes York's similar effort flew well over the woodwork.
Neil Ashton almost had the hosts back on level terms in the most fortunate of fashions with 20 minutes remaining as his floated free-kick from just inside the Bolton half eluded everybody in the box, but the Whites' keeper was on his guard to recover and scoop the ball to safety.
Two more opportunities appeared in quick succession for Wrexham inside the final quarter of the game, but neither Durrell nor Ashton could finish their efforts from just inside the 18-yard box.
With the clock running down, Wrexham substitute Anthony Stephens almost made the perfect start to the game just moments after entering the fray as he unleashed a stinging volley from an acute angle, but Fitzsimons was equal to his effort.
The pressure from the hosts was still telling and with only minutes to go until the final whistle, Wanderers were having to deal with attack after attack from Kevin Wilkin's side as they went in search of an equalising goal.
Their efforts were to be in vain however as Bolton stood firm and held out to end their pre-season campaign on a winning note.
BWFC XI: Fitzsimons, White, Maher, Fontaine, Wheater (Obileye 77), Hughes, Lester, Trotter, Iliev, Clough (Youngs 64), Hall
Subs not used: Campbell, Walker, Woodland, Taylor, Bastos
Wrexham: Trialist (Coughlin 79), Carrington (White 82), Smith (Clowes 85), Hudson (Tomassen 85), Ashton (Stephens 82), Harris (Evans 82), Clarke (Royle 87), Durrell, Jennings (Rushton 85), Moult, York (Jones 85)
Subs not used: Gray, Ible, Weaver