Jamie Thomas' second half strike secures David Lee's side's passage to the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup
Jamie Thomas scored the only goal as Bolton Wanderers beat Portsmouth to reach the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup.
Having missed a good chance to fire the Whites ahead early on, Thomas made amends by flicking the ball past his marker before slotting the ball through the keeper’s legs.
Portsmouth had two chances cleared off the line as they pressed for an equaliser, while goalkeeper Jake Turner had to be alert to deny the hosts on a number of occasions, as Bolton held on to secure the win.
Having seen injuries ravage his squad for the young Whites’ last match against Middlesbrough, David Lee made five changes to his side for the FA Youth Cup clash with Portsmouth.
Under-16s goalkeeper Jake Turner started between the sticks, while there were also places in the starting XI for Alex Honeyball, Kieran Nolan, Tyrell Palmer and Tyler Garratt.
In a half of few chances Wanderers started brightly and could have taken the lead inside the opening five minutes after Jamie Thomas was gifted the ball following a Portsmouth defensive error.
Trying his luck from the edge of the box, the forward looked to beat goalkeeper with a curling strike, arrowed for the top corner. However, Thomas was unfortunate to see his strike float narrowly off-target, grazing the crossbar on its way over.
At the other end, Brandon Joseph-Buadi looked threatening for Portsmouth down the right-hand side. The winger created Pompey’s best opportunity of the half after evading a challenge from Alex Honeyball before sprinting to the touchline.
However, Alex Perry was alert to clear the danger from the resulting cutback, stealing the ball off the waiting Conor Chaplin’s toes.
Following a unstoppable solo-run from Thomas, the forward teed up Tyler Garratt out on the left-hand side. The winger picked out Carl Kennedy in the centre, but the midfielder was unable to get enough power in his head to beat goalkeeper Alex Bass.
The Whites twice forced into action again moments later as tried their luck from range, the keeper first spilling Kieran Nolan’s tame effort before diving full-stretch to keep out a thunderous Christopher Cvetko effort that seemed destined for the top corner.
Bass looked less than confident from the resulting corner, once again spilling the ball when under no pressure. However, Portsmouth were able to clear as the two sides went in at the break with the scores goalless.
David Lee’s side started slowly after the break as Portsmouth won a succession of corners. However, it was from one of these set-pieces that Bolton actually took the lead, following a swift counter-attack.
Following a clearance to Thomas, the forward flicked the ball over his marker’s head before sprinting into the box and nutmegging keeper Bass to give his side the lead.
Portsmouth fought back and were convinced they were level moments later following a corner as Jake Turner was left stranded.
But with the header seemingly destined for the back of the net, the Trotters got a man back to hack the ball off the line at the very last moment.
A great double save from Jake Turner denied Portsmouth an equaliser with 15 minutes left on the clock.
The keeper was quick off his line to deny Conor Chaplin, pouncing at the forward’s feet after he received the ball inside the six-yard box from a low cross, before he managed to block Chaplin’s powerful rebound when on the ground from point-blank range.
He was called into action again moments later, getting down well to tip a powerful Portsmouth strike from distance just wide.
Will Abbotts was introduced to the action late on as Wanderers looked to seal the win, and the forward almost delivered just that with his very first touches.
Beating two men as he dribbled into the area, the substitute was unfortunate to see his goalbound strike deflected just over the bar.
The Whites’ next chance fell to Thomas as he found himself in space outside the area. However, the forward’s shot on goal as wild as it flew harmlessly off-target.
There was still time for one last chance for Portsmouth from a corner, with even keeper Bass going forwards, but Bolton managed to head it off the line before Turner gathered as the Trotters held on to clinch their passage to the fourth round.
Bolton: Turner, Spooner, Honeyball (Abotts 75), Perry, Phillips, Nolan, Palmer, Kennedy, Cvetko, Thomas, Garratt.
Unused subs: Lonsdale, Allen, Abdo.
Portsmouth: Bass, Haunstrup, Granger, Field, Nilsen, Rwakarmbwe, May, Gill, Chaplin, Joseph-Buadi (Sayers 85), Davies (Haitham 85).
Unused subs: George, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Widdrington.