Youngsters begin their pre-season campaign with a draw away at Bamber Bridge
Bolton Wanderers XI kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 1-1 draw against Bamber Bridge at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Following a feisty first period, Wanderers proceeded to open the scoring three minutes before the break through Conor Wilkinson who fired home from six yards out.
Their lead was only brief however, with Stuart Vasey pulling the hosts level on the stroke of half time with a powerful drive from just inside the area.
Both sides pushed for an elusive winner inside the second period, but it was to no avail as the game ended all square.
Wanderers made a bright start to proceedings, with Wilkinson forcing Bamber Bridge goalkeeper Lee Dovey to parry the ball away awkwardly in the opening two minutes, but the shot-stopper’s blushes were spared as he kept out Zach Clough’s resulting half volley.
Not to be deterred, the home side hit back with Matt Mahoney’s low driven effort forcing Harry Campbell into a smart save from close range moments later.
The chance led to a flurry of Bamber attacks, but Wanderers remained a constant threat on the counter attack with Wilkinson proving himself a nuisance amongst the Brig defence.
After a breathless opening to the game, the tempo appeared to wane slightly following an injury to Alex Taylor, with Wilkinson’s powerful shot failing to test to Bamber keeper with 15 minutes on the clock.
Clough was again in the thick of the action minutes later as following a goalmouth melee, the striker attempting to acrobatically hook the ball into the back of the net, only to see his effort fail to trouble Dovey.
With chances for both sides, the home team looked set to break the deadlock in style as Curtis Thompson unleashed a looping shot from just outside the area, but the ball somehow eluded the goalmouth and flew inches over the crossbar.
Wilkinson found himself with two glorious chances on the half hour mark as he was first denied from close range by Dovey, with the Brig defence preventing him from turning home Chris Lester’s initial effort moments later.
Wanderers were visibly boosted, and Amir Berkane appeared to have fired the ball under the body of Dovey with a powerful pile driver with 34 minutes on the clock but the keeper somehow kept the ball out courtesy of the post.
Next to try his luck on the Bamber goal was Lester, with the winger firing his rebounded shot into the side netting after he was initially denied by the goalkeeper.
Having enjoyed numerous chances to open the scoring, Wanderers did so with three minutes of the half remaining as Clough found Wilkinson unmarked in the areas, with the striker given the simple task of powering the ball home.
Their lead lasted just three minutes however as the hosts drew level on the stroke of half time, Vasey slotted the ball home through a crowded Bolton area to ensure that the scores were all square at the break.
The second period brought five changes to Wanderers’ eleven, with Jimmy Ball, Christopher Cvetko, Tom Eaves, Aaron Knight and Tom Walker all entering the fray.
The introduction of the quintet almost reaped immediate dividends, with the hosts forced to defend deeply for the opening minutes of the half under pressure from the Whites.
The clash was yet again still as lively as it had started, with both teams trying their luck early on including an ambitious long range effort from Ryan Sellars which looped narrowly over Dovey's crossbar.
Despite the pressure being exuded by both Bamber and Bolton however, clear cut chances were few and far between inside the opening 20 minutes of the half with neither goalkeeper being tested.
With 73 minutes on the clock, Eaves attempted to surpass Dovey in the Bamber goal with a curling long range effort, but the striker's shot was comfortably dealt with by the shot-stopper.
The reintroduction of Hughes, Wilkinson and Lester in place of Maher, Clough and White with 16 minutes remaining appeared to reinvigorate Wanderers, but the home side still looked dangerous themselves on the break.
A goalmouth scramble ensued in the Bolton box with nine minutes to go with a number of Bamber Bridge players attempting to force the ball home, but Campbell came out to scoop the ball to safety and kill the attack.
As the clock ran down, an unmarked Knight skipped his way into the Brig penalty area before unleashing goalwards, only to be denied by some last ditch defending by the home side who cleared the ball away from danger.
Both sides tried their luck as the game drew to its conclusion, but the second half ended as the first did with the spoils being shared at the final whistle.
BWFC XI: Campbell, White, Holding, Maher, Sellars (Bastos, 83), Hughes (Ball, 46), Berkane (Cvetko, 46), Lester (Walker, 46), Clough, Bastos (Eaves, 46), Wilkinson (Knight, 46)
Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Garrett
Bamber Bridge: Dovey, Mahoney, Alexander, Lawlor, Atherton, Parish, Waddecar, Thompson, Vasey (Marlow, 56), Taylor (Bell, 14; Reynolds, 79), Clark (Jackson, 46)