Stuart Holden plays 23 minutes in narrow defeat against Everton at the Reebok
Stuart Holden completed 23 minutes of action for the under-21s before being forced off against Everton on Monday evening at the Reebok.
The returning American international went down in some discomfort when chasing a loose ball, but was able to pick himself up before running from the field of play and down the tunnel.
The game ended 3-2 in favour of the visitors, with Conor McAleny’s spectacular second-half strike from distance eventually deciding the contest.
Both sides were showing vigour from the outset, with Rob Hall skipping inside the Everton penalty area inside the opening two minutes of the clash before being denied at the death.
The Toffees were soon showcasing their mettle however, with Arran Lee Barrett doing well to deny Hallam Hope from close range after the visitors broke away on the counter attack.
Hall was in the thick of the action yet again with ten minutes on the clock as he collected Hayden White’s threaded pass into the area before turning his man, but the winger saw the ball collected by Everton keeper Mason Springthorpe just as he was set to pull the trigger.
Gracing the Reebok turf for the first time this season, Holden almost made the perfect return as he slid the ball into the path of Zach Clough, but the young striker was only able to slam his effort into the side netting.
Straight from the resulting goal-kick though, Matthew Kennedy looked set to break the deadlock after sprinting away from the Bolton defence but the youngster dragged his shot agonisingly wide of the upright.
In the 23rd minute however, Wanderers were dealt a killer blow as Holden, clearly in discomfort, dropped to the floor with the midfielder being replaced by Luke Woodland.
No sooner had the American been substituted though, the visitors were handed the opportunity to break the deadlock as Rob Holding hauled down Tyrone Duffus in the area with the referee awarding a penalty which Luke Garbutt calmly placed past Lee-Barrett.
A cruel scoreline on the Whites given their early efforts, Clough almost levelled the scores just short of the half hour mark but saw his volley ricochet off the post with Springthorpe beaten.
Not to be deterred, Wanderers did grab a deserved equalising goal with 39 minutes gone albeit in fortuitous circumstances as Ibou Touray misjudged the positioning of his goalkeeper and headed the ball past Springthorpe into the path of Iliev who placed the ball into an empty net.
Both sides enjoyed chances to snatch the lead as the half drew to a close, but the first period ended all square.
Having deservedly drawn level shortly before the break, Bolton almost added to their tally just after the restart as Oscar Threlkeld headed the ball back across a crowded Everton penalty area, but Iliev was unable to connect with the goal at his mercy.
They didn’t have to wait long to taste success in front of goal once again however as with 52 minutes on the clock the supporters inside the Reebok were celebrating as Iliev doubled his tally by firing home Hall’s initial shot after it had been parried by Springthorpe.
The half appeared to spring into life following the goal, with the visitors stunning Wanderers just two minutes later as Matthew Kennedy bundled Hope’s ball home from close range to level the scores.
A game of end to end action, the hosts were handed the opportunity to retake the lead just a minute later as Matthew Pennington upended Hall in the area, but Josh Vela’s resulting spot-kick was well saved by the Everton keeper.
Clearly boosted by their let-off, the Toffees proceeded to test the Bolton defence and were rewarded with 64 minutes gone as McAleny handed the visitors the lead with a thunderbolt from just outside the area which gave Lee-Barrett no chance.
Andy Kellett almost levelled the scores in emphatic fashion shortly after following a mazy run from midfield, but his effort flew narrowly wide of Springthorpe’s upright, while Hall’s similar effort failed to test the Toffees’ keeper.
With chances at a premium, Wanderers did introduce under-18 strikers Aaron Knight and Tom Walker into the mix for added firepower as they chased an equalising goal inside the final ten minutes of the clash with the latter unable to keep his effort from close range down in the 85th minute.
Hall looked to have salvaged a point for the Whites with a minute remaining as he collected a well played pass from Walker, but the underside of the crossbar denied him a deserved goal.
Despite a late rally from the home side which saw Kellett's header skim inches past the post, their efforts were in vain as Everton held out for the victory.
Bolton: Lee-Barrett, Threlkeld, Kellett, White, Holding, Vela, Lester (Walker, 85), Holden (Woodland, 23), Clough (Knight, 82), Iliev, Hall
Subs not used: Campbell, Maher
Everton: Springthorpe, Touray, Garbutt, Ledson, Pennington, Browning, Kennedy, Williams, Hope, McAleny (Jones, 90), C Duffus (Charsley, 78)
Subs not used: Griffiths, T Duffus, Dyson