Georg Iliev scores a hat-trick and Ross Fitzsimons saves two spot-kicks as young Whites progress in U21 PL Cup
Ross Fitzsimons and Georg Iliev were the heroes as Bolton Wanderers beat Wigan Athletic 4-1 on penalties to progress to the U21 Premier League Cup round of 16, following a 4-4 draw.
Iliev scored a hat-trick inside 90 minutes to force extra-time, while Fitzsimons saved two spot-kicks in the shootout, allowing Niall Maher to step up and secure the Whites’ place in the next round.
Ryan Jennings had fired Wigan into an early lead, before a quick-fire brace from Iliev put Bolton ahead.
Sanmi Odelusi made it 3-1 just before the break before Matthew Hamilton halved the deficit on the stroke of half-time.
Jennings and Hamilton were both on the scoresheet again shortly after the interval to turn the game on its head, however, Iliev was in the right place at the right time to slot home an equaliser in the 85th minute to force extra-time.
Sanmi Odelusi made his first start of the season for Wanderers as he stepped up his return from injury, while there was also a place in the starting XI for Georg Iliev following the end of his loan stay with Carlisle United last month.
Elsewhere, Ross Fitzsimons returned in goal as Iain Brunskill made seven changes to the side that faced Middlesbrough in the Whites’ last outing.
Wanderers started slowly at a sodden County Ground as Ryan Jennings fired Wigan into an early lead.
Bringing down a long ball forward, the midfielder cut in from the right before hammering the ball into the bottom corner from range.
The Whites fought back with Sanmi Odelusi in particular looking threatening, first flicking a corner into Quade Taylor’s path at the far post only for the defender to come agonisingly close to converting.
Odelusi continued to be heavily involved as he twice tried his luck from range in quick succession, only to be denied by Wigan goalkeeper on Lee Nicholls on both occasions.
However, Bolton did soon find themselves level midway through the first half of courtesy of Georg Iliev, the forward turning well on the edge of the Wigan box before rifling the ball into the roof of Nicholls net.
The Trotters found themselves ahead moments later as Iliev notched his second of the night following a corner.
Tom Walker was unlucky to see his flick rebound back off the crossbar, but Iliev was in the right place at the right time to volley convert the rebound as Wanderers began to control proceedings.
Odelusi made it 3-1 to the Whites moments before the break, volleying home from the edge of the box following a poor Wigan clearance to seemingly put Bolton in control heading into the interval.
However, there was still time for Wigan to half the deficit moments before the break as Matthew Hamilton exchanged passes with Sam Cosgrove before coolly slotting the ball past Ross Fitzsimons, ensuring there was still everything to play for heading into the second half.
Wigan were quick out the blocks following the interval, wasting no time in levelling the scores as they once again scored with their very first attack of the half.
Thomas Rogne leapt highest to knock the ball down into Hamilton’s path, and the midfielder made no mistake when given space inside the area, drilling the ball into the bottom corner.
Goalscorer turned provider ten minutes later as Hamilton picked out Jennings with a clever through-ball, allowing the midfield to race into the area before rolling the ball past Fitzsimons for his second of the night.
Despite now finding themselves behind, Bolton struggled to break down a stubborn Wigan defence as they looked to find an equaliser.
As the half wore on Wigan looked the more likely of scoring. However, five minutes from the end the Trotters managed to level the scores yet again as Iliev notched his hat-trick.
After a low cross squirmed underneath Odelusi’s foot inside the Wigan box, the ball fell kindly to Iliev at the far post as he squeezed it into the bottom corner beyond the grasp of Nicholls for for his third of the night.
Despite five minutes being added on at the end of the 90 minutes, neither side were able to find a late winner as the tie headed into extra-time.
EXTRA-TIME FIRST HALF
Wanderers created the first opportunity as Odelusi broke away. Finding himself one-on-one, the forward chipped the ball over the out-rushing Nicholls only to see his strike clip the post before bouncing clear.
However, with both teams tiring, it was to be the only chance of note of the half as both sides remained frustrated in their efforts to take the lead.
EXTRA-TIME SECOND HALF
Wigan looked the more likely of snatching a late winner, as Luke Burke had the best opportunity of the half.
The defender unleashed a dipping 35-yard volley, but, with Fitzsimons beaten, was unlucky to see his strike cannon back off the top of the crossbar.
And as the two sides continued to cancel each other in extra-time, the game went to penalties.
Georg Iliev scores. 1-0
Ross Fitzsimons saves from Matthew Hamilton. 1-0
Oscar Threlkeld scores. 2-0
Ross Fitzsimons saves from Sam Cosgrove. 2-0
Tom Walker scores. 3-0
Louis Robles scores. 3-1
Niall Maher scores. 4-1
Bolton win 4-1 on penalties
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Maher, Sellers, Threlkeld, Taylor, Woodland (Finney 88), Lester (Matthews 80), Walker, Woolery (Holding 68), Iliev, Odelusi.
Unused subs: Campbell, Ball.
Wigan: Nicholls, Burke, Balogun, Poole, Rogne, Wilson, Jennings, Chow (Purzycki 113), Cosgrove, Hamilton, Flores (Robles 100).
Unused subs: Keane, Langford.