Liam Trotter makes comeback in U21s draw with Stoke
Liam Trotter completed 45 minutes on his return from injury as Bolton Wanderers conceded a two-goal lead to draw against Stoke City at Macron Stadium.
After missing an early penalty, Chris Lester slotted the Whites ahead on the stroke of half-time before Conor Wilkinson doubled their lead in the second half with a close-range header.
However, the visitors fought back courtesy of a Robert Parry penalty before George Waring levelled the scores, forcing Bolton to settle for a share of the points.
Liam Trotter started for the U21s as he made his long-awaited return from injury, having not featured for the Wanderers first team since the Whites’ Capital One Cup victory over Crewe Alexandra back in August.
Conor Wilkinson started upfront following his return to Macron Stadium after the conclusion of his recent loan move to Oldham Athletic, while Ross Fitzsimons returned in goal.
Wanderers started brightly and were unfortunate not to take an early lead after being awarded an early penalty.
After Conor Wilkinson was scythed down in the penalty area when clean through on goal, Chris Lester stepped up to take the resulting spot-kick but was unable to beat Stoke keeper Dale Eve, who dived correctly to his left to keep the strike out.
The winger almost made amends soon after following a quick Whites counter-attack. After Wilkinson teed up Zach Clough modway inside the Potters half, the forward played in Lester who held off his man to race into the area, only to drag his shot narrowly wide.
Lester continued to be a constant thorn in the Stoke back-line as he was at the centre of action yet again, this time turning creator. Linking up with Wilkinson, the wideman looked to pick out Clough inside the area only for the forward to slip at the vital moment.
Bolton controlled possession as the half wore on, but struggled to make it count in the final third with a wild Wilkinson effort from range summing up their luck in front of goal.
However, the Trotters did eventually make the breakthrough with it being a case of third time lucky for Lester on the stroke of half-time.
Controlling a long ball forward inside the Stoke area, he kept his composure to coolly slot underneath Eve as the Potters keeper raced out of goal, to fire Wanderers into a deserved lead at the break.
Having initially found themselves under-pressure early in the second half, the Whites did not take long to double their lead, scoring their second of the night from their first major opportunity after the break.
After Ryan Sellers received the ball out on the left, the defender whipped in a pin-point cross to the far post, allowing Wilkinson to leap highest before beating Eve with a simple header.
The forward could have netted his second of the night moments later after cutting in from the left, however he could only fire straight at Eve in the Potters goal.
Despite having rarely threatened Ross Fitzsimons, Stoke soon halved the deficit as Robert Parry narrowly beat the Bolton keeper from the penalty spot.
Oscar Threlkeld was in the right place at the right time to deny Stoke an equaliser soon after, however the Potters were not to be denied as they did level the scores with 15 minutes left on the clock as George Waring tapped home from close-range.
Tom Eaves was introduced to the action late on as the Trotters searched for a winner, but there was to be no late breakthrough at Macron Stadium as Wanderers were forced to settle for a point.
Bolton: Fitzsimons, Maher, Sellers, Threlkeld, Taylor, Perry, Lester, Trotter (Campbell-Young 46), Wilkinson (Eaves 83), Clough, Walker (Woolery 69).
Unused subs: Campbell, Holding.
Stoke: Eve, Wheeler, Strong, Lecycne, Coulson, Watkins-Clark, Parry, Ward, Waring, Shenton, Taylor (Adeloye 64).
Unused subs: Monlouis, Gyollia, Cook, Edwards.